2014 Duck Hunting Review – Dogs, Boats and Blinds

2014 was a great year in Texas for duck hunting. We never get a ton of ducks in Texas but I still enjoy hunting them and all of the adventures and learnings that I accumulate during the short season.  I always find time to innovate my hunting approaches a little bit each year. It’s also fun to look back and appreciate just how rich and satisfying it is to hunt ducks in Texas.

Federal Duck Hunting Reports

Duck Hunting Report of Yellow and Green Mail Folder
Duck Hunting Report
I don’t remember doing this but I must have.  The Federal Fish & Wildlife Service sent me a large packet of envelopes and asked me to report each duck that I harvested in 2014.  I probably signed up for it but don’t remember.  I did it – not because I had to but because I wanted to.  It wasn’t hard at all – the instructions were clear and easy.  Makes me wonder who get’s to open all those duck and goose envelopes!

Boat Duck Hunting Blind

Green and Silver Duck Hunting Boat and White and Brown Grass Blind
Duck Hunting Boat and Blind
I mainly hunt the river and ducks seem to congregate in the shallow pools or deep water.  I suspect they prefer the shallow pools but go to the deep water when they are gun shy.  It’s hard to hunt deep water on the river because the banks are usually steep. I built this rig so I could anchor right on the shore and still stay hidden but close to the deep water.  It worked fine after I put a small ladder on the front so the dog could get in and out.  It is made from simple PVC pipe and Avery grass mats.  The frame folds down for traveling and the grass mats just hang on little hooks on the front of the frame.  It’s not sexy but it does get the job done!
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Trust Your Dove Hunting Dog

Trust the Orange and White Dove Hunting Dog
Trust the Dove Hunting Dog
Trust the dog!  Every time I tell her that she’s just pointing at nonsense, she proves me wrong – don’t even know why I doubt her anymore.  This was a tough find for her and she WOULD NOT leave until I gave her the bird to “retrieve.” Trust Your Dog!

Texas Dove Hunting Rainbows

Dove Hunting Rainbow over a brown and grey cut cotton field
Dove Hunting Rainbow
I love a Texas Dove Hunt!  We are very blessed to have an enormous, year-round population of white wing and mourning doves.  We also have plenty of ECDs as well.  Our dove season begins in September just as Summer is cooling off and Fall is arriving with rain storms.  Rains during a Texas dove hunt are common and usually a source of complaint as guns and hunters get wet and grouchy.  Occasionally, it takes a rainbow to remind me that the rain is a good thing and that it might be better to just enjoy it as it passes.  I hope you have some rainbows on your dove hunts as well.

Appreciating the Bird Hunting Harvest

Upland Bird Hunting Trip Souvenirs of Grey, Black, Brown, Red and Blue Feathers
Upland Bird Hunting Trip Souvenirs
I make an annual “Big Trip” to hunt birds in other states.  This year was Oregon and Idaho.  Since I’m traveling for a few weeks at a time, it is just not possible to keep the birds I harvest until I return home.  I always find a good home for my harvests but discovered a new approach this year that brought (and continues to bring) many smiles to my face.  For each species I harvest, I save a few small tail feathers to remind me of the hunt.  This year’s trip included Ruff Grouse, Blue Grouse, Huns and Sharptail Grouse.  I had many smiles this year.

Accidents Happen when Bird Hunting in Texas

Orange and White Quail Hunting Dog Accident with Pink Skin and Purple Stitches
Quail Hunting Dog Accident
Jill, my Brittany hunting dog is 6 years old and knows about fences and bard wire – as long as she can see them.  This year, we hunted pheasants in North Texas in the pivot corners.  One place was just full of birds but also had a lot of old farm trash – including barb wire.  Jill caught her leg on one pretty bad on opening day.  It’s hard to find a vet late Saturday in Po-Dunk Tx so I took her to Lubbock.  The very nice vet stitched her up good as new and she was back in the field in 10 days.  Yeah, we missed the Sunday of opening weekend but I wouldn’t want to hunt without her – would you?

Those Damn Airboats!

Duck Hunting crew of 4 hunters on a Silver Airboat with Orange and White Dog
Duck Hunting on an Airboat
There are only 2 good parts to an airboat ride – getting to where you’re going and getting off at the end.  Everything in between is just ugly.  But, if you’re going to hunt ducks on the TX Gulf Coast, you’re going to need a guide with an airboat to get to the good spots.  Otherwise, you’re probably going to be limited to pintails and redheads.  Get a guide with an airboat but bundle up and get some goggles and ear protection.  The ride is worth it and the complaining afterward always good for a laugh or two.

The Best Duck Hunting Guide in Rockport

Duck Hunting Guide in camoflage asleep on brown grass
Duck Hunting Guide
This is actually the ONLY TIME I’ve ever seen Capt Brent Hopkins take a nap – and he was just fooling for the picture.  Brent is the best duck hunting guide in Rockport Texas – Ace In The Hole Guide Service.  He’s the hardest working and most successful duck hunting guide I’ve ever met – and I’ve met and hunted with a LOT of them.

Mixed Bag from Texas Duck Hunting

KWP-020515-12 This was a late season treat for me hunting ducks on the river. We don’t see mallards on the river very much – mostly gadwalls – so it was a treat to put one in the bag along with the Gadwalls, wigeon and Teal.  It’s days like this that have me already excited to hunt ducks on 2015!

Summary of 2014 Duck Hunting Review – Dogs, Boats and Blinds

Help the Federal Fish & Wildlife Service when you can – they determine when and how we can hunt and real data helps make better decisions.  Try hunting a new way – build a new blind or try a different spot – you might be surprised and you’ll get to experiment and possibly discover something new!  Trust your dog – it’s always a better than even bet.  Take a minute to enjoy the rainbows when you hunt – they soon pass.  Watch out for your duck hunting buddy getting into an accident – and take care of them quickly.  Keep souvenirs from your hunts – they will make you smile during the long hot Summer!  Get a guide with an airboat but be prepared for a heck of a ride. Contact Brent Hopkins if you want to hunt ducks in Rockport Texas – he’s the best.  Lastly, enjoy your harvest bag but more important, enjoy your hunts – you only get to do them once!