I really enjoy hunting ducks in the Texas Coastal marshes. Each year, I make an annual pilgrimage to hunt ducks with my good friend and hunting/fishing guide Brent Hopkins in Rockport, Texas. Brent owns and runs Ace In The Hole Guide Service and is probably the best hunting and fishing guide in the area – not to mention a great friend and compadre.
I took my friend, JD, with me for his first “Texas Coast Duck Hunt” and had promised him a great time. We hunted an afternoon and evening and had two amazing hunts. On the air boat ride out to the duck blind, we jumped a number of large rafts of resting ducks just waiting to be hunted.
After scouting for about an hour, Brent took us in his air boat to one of his custom duck hunting blinds near Mud Island. The secret to these blinds is how they are constructed and what they are missing. Brent builds a top-notch blind with plenty of room and great seats. The duck blind is enclosed on three sides by hog panels and has no camouflage. Since the blinds are built on public property, they are available to anyone and it can be a huge disappointment to arrive at your custom duck blind to hunt ducks only to find that someone else has already arrived! So, a duck blind without any camouflage tends to discourage other duck hunters. Brent’s secret is to bring enough camouflage with him so that the duck blind is useful for duck hunting. I think that’s brilliant!
It takes a significant number of duck decoys for duck hunting in the Texas coastal marsh. The ducks congregate in large rafts in this area and only seem to notice larger spreads – especially this late in the season. In this photo, you can also see the additional camouflage that Brent brought with him.
It wasn’t long and the glorious Pintail Ducks were working the spread. The limit on pintails was increased this past year and you can really tell that the overall population has grown. Pintails are, by far, some of the prettiest ducks that you can hunt. I chose to take this opportunity to take a picture instead of shooting, but it wasn’t easy to pass them up!
As you might expect hunting ducks in the Texas coastal marshes, there are going to be plenty of Redheads – and there were. Redheads are interesting in that they don’t seem to be the smartest of ducks and are usually the first ducks to fill your bag. Hunting ducks to a limit in the Texas coastal marsh requires some sharp eyes and a lot patience. The limit on redheads is two and if you’re going to fill your duck hunting limit in Texas, you’re going to need to work a little harder than just shooting redhead ducks.
One of the beauties of hunting ducks in the Texas coastal marshes is the huge clouds of ducks that work the area. Additionally, with miles of visibility, you can watch the ducks in Texas work from several hundred yards out. At this point, your decoying and calling skills are going to come into play to lure them close enough for some fast action duck hunting.
If your duck decoys are set properly around your duck blind and your duck calling skills are up to par, then you’ll be rewarded as the flocks of ducks begin working your duck blind.
Another on of the interesting species of ducks available in the Texas coastal marshes are bluebills. Bluebills tend to favor deeper water and often pair up as in this picture.
Brent Hopkins doesn’t have a duck retrieving dog. Brent retrieves the ducks. Brent is probably the hardest working duck hunting guide in South Texas.
When you are hunting ducks in the Texas coastal marshes, you can expect to be checked by a Texas Game Warden. It pays to make sure you are properly licensed and stamped to hunt ducks in Texas. The Texas Game Wardens are a brave and hard working team of men and women that help us protect our natural resources. They also have one of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement as almost every person they approach is openly carrying a loaded weapon. When you have the fortune to meet a Texas Game Warden, please be polite, help them do their job and then thank them for their service.
The afternoon duck hunt and the following morning duck hunt yielded plenty of ducks and a wide variety of species. We had an great adventure hunting ducks in Rockport, Texas with Capt. Brent and I promised to return much more often when the season returns to hunt ducks in Texas in 2011.
If you’re read this far then I have a special treat for you. Brent uses a customized air boat to take his clients to the duck blind for duck hunting. The air boat ride and scouting for ducks prior to the duck hunt and the return air boat ride after hunting for ducks is an adventure in and or itself. This is a video I shot while riding in Brent’s air boat – thankfully, it does have seat belts!