Prospects for early teal season are looking very good, especially compared to the last few years, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Waterfowl Program Leader Kevin Kraai. “First, blue-winged teal populations are near record high and production reports are excellent. Additionally, unlike last year’s very late spring, nesting efforts were more on time this year and thus should result in a timely migration that will overlap better with our teal season dates.”
Texas hunters can take up to six teal daily during the 16-day season. The possession limit is three times the daily limit, which cannot be applied before the third day of the season.
Biologists say habitat conditions across most of Texas are much improved from previous years. The coastal marshes and prairies were rapidly drying out late this summer before some very welcomed rainfall the end of August put more shallow fresh water on the landscape and freshened up salty marshes.
The ponds, lakes, and reservoirs of central and eastern Texas could use some additional water, biologists suggest, but hunters that seek out the shallow waters of many of the water bodies that remain will likely encounter many of the migrating teal leaving the breeding grounds moving though the area daily.
Playa wetlands of the High Plains also received good rainfall early in the summer and some are still holding water that will attract early migrating ducks. These wetlands are very dynamic and many are rapidly drying with recent warm windy days and could use some additional rainfall to assure their presence on the landscape into the fall.
For many Texas duck hunters, TPWD’s Annual Public Hunting Permit (APH) Program allows economical access to quality hunting on the state’s wildlife management areas (WMA). With a $48 APH, available for purchase wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, hunters have regular access during the season to some of the state’s prime managed wetland habitat. The hunting is typically good, but as TPWD biologists are quick to point out, there are no guarantees when it comes to migrating ducks. Information about these areas and TPWD’s public hunting program are available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us .
Duck hunters are urged to share observations in the field opening weekend via Twitter at #txteal and by following @tpwdhunt.