Fowl and Game

Larry Peterson with limits of ducks taken last Saturday from the Brazos River Bottom in Brazoria County.

COURTESY

Whitetail deer season ended in the northern zone last Sunday and it was a good one in most counties. The season coming to an end was not that disappointing to most hunters, as the harvests took their typical late season decline.

This occurs almost every year following the Christmas holidays. It seems that deer have become more cautious as the season goes on and tend to concentrate in protected areas toward the end.

The South Texas season continues and will run through Jan. 21. Reports from two areas, one around Kingsville and the other George West, indicate that the deer are in the same mode as north zones hunter started seeing around year-end.

Charlie Sparks, who hunts a ranch between George West and Freer, reported a noticeable decrease in sightings, with only a few antlerless deer showing up around feeders. Sparks was told by a long-time trophy hunter in the area that if he was interested in a big buck he needed to get into a ravine away from the noise of cars and machinery and hunker down.

On the bright side, Sparks said that this year has been one of the best in the eight years he has hunted the area.

Sparks’ note reminds me of a reader’s call several weeks ago complaining about his lessor prohibiting his lessees (hunters) from taking anything but whitetail deer from the ranch. The reader who identified himself only as Alex said that it was obvious that the hogs knew they were safe, as they would walk up to feeders in herds and run the deer off.

Speaking of South Texas hunting, Ted Vandenover sent a note asking hunters to make an aggressive effort to eliminate feral hogs. Vandenover hunts his family’s ranch near Victoria and said that the wild hogs are doing a lot of damage to all of the farms and ranches nearby.

This is all being added as part of this week’s column, as the feral hog population in Texas continues to grow and the damage to land increases along with it.

Now, for the remainder of this year’s hunting season reports, we will focus more on bird hunting, especially waterfowl, as we are in the prime time for that activity.

We have mentioned several times that this has been a banner year for duck and goose hunting. That trend continued last week and our first report comes from my duck hunt with Larry Peterson.

While last Saturday was cold, it affected the hunters more than the game. The good part for the hunters was that the wind was light and that is most often a negative when coming to waterfowl hunting.

It did not seem to affect the movement of the ducks, as teal and bluebills were swarming at shooting time and continued to provide action all morning. Our hunt ended at 7:30 a.m., less than an hour after shooting time. Our limits included teal, ring necks and bluebills.

Most hunters around us eventually limited out; however, we were the early birds (no pun intended) back to the dock.

Limits of pintails are being taken all along the middle coast and from the coastal prairies. Teal, bluebills and gadwall seem to be the most common ducks on straps in those areas.

Fred Richards reported easy and quick limits of pintail and redheads from the wetlands between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas. Other ducks are not showing up in that area, which is known for its redheads this time of year.

John Stewart downed two sandhill cranes while goose hunting near Altair. Six light geese and a lone gadwall rounded out his harvest last Sunday.

No reports from quail hunters this week! Overall the reports indicate that this has been a disappointing season so far.

We have another week of deer season in South Texas and two more weeks to take advantage of the great season so far on waterfowl. If you make it out, send in a picture of your harvest.

Joe Kent is a columnist for The Daily News. Report your game harvest to waterfowl.report@galvnews.com or call 409-683-5341.

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