I Miss Texas Waterfowl Hunting

Wow – I really miss Texas waterfowl hunting – especially duck hunting. The ducks were late getting off this year – I continued seeing them on local ponds until late April. We had a magnificent year with a huge duck hatch in the prairie pothole region and then a scarcity of water in Texas to really concentrate them. I changed my hunting tactics a little this year by un-joining my duck hunting club in favor of purchasing a john boat and hunting the river right behind my house. This also gave me more opportunities to take my kids duck hunting with me. Rather than a long trip and over night stay to hunt ducks, I could sleep in until 6AM and still be on the river and setup by shooting time. Now, all I’m left with are some great memories and pictures to while my time until Texas waterfowl season starts again and it’s time for some duck hunting in Texas.

The Majesty of Texas Waterfowl Hunting Weather

Early Morning Texas Waterfowl Hunting on the River
Fog Sets In On Early Morning Texas Waterfowl Hunting

One of the advantages of Texas waterfowl hunting in Central Texas is the wide variety of weather conditions – there is just never a dull moment. I particularly favor the cold, foggy mornings when it’s hard to see but easy to hear. It’s like magic when the ducks just appear out of nowhere into your spread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Easy Portable Duck Hunting Blinds

Yellow Grass Portable Texas Waterfowl Blind on a Sandbank in a River
Grass & Conduit Portable Texas Waterfowl Blind

I really enjoy hunting the river and the amazing array of choices for where to hunt for Texas waterfowl. I know a lot of duck hunters like to get there very early and get “their” spot and I don’t mind. I like variety and portability. I made up a quick and dirty portable duck blind that I can easily carry and setup almost anywhere. I made it out of 6 conduit pipes and a couple of grass mats. The only drawback is that my dog has trouble seeing out of it.

 

 

 

 

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Take Your Kids Duck Hunting in Texas

White and Red Dog with Blond Girl Texas Waterfowl Hunting
Take Your Dogs and Kids Texas Waterfowl Hunting

I absolutely love hunting with my daughters – but one at a time. They don’t shoot yet but are always ready and willing to join me on an outing. This precious one on one time is too valuable to pass up. Sometimes we don’t even have much to say to each other – just the experience of being together and sharing an adventure hunting Texas waterfowl is enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Happy Dog and a Full Strap of Texas Waterfowl

Red and White Brittany Texas Waterfowl Retriever with Grey Ducks
Unusual Texas Waterfowl Retriever

Another advantage to hunting on the river is the availability of natural brush to create your own blind. There always seems to be plenty of downfall laying around to quickly build a blind. Now, it won’t be the most concealed blind that you’ve ever seen but come on – they’re ducks! I think a good spread and sitting still until they commit is good enough – my dog and the full strap of Texas waterfowl seem to indicate that I might be on to something.

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Bird from Goose Hunting in Texas

Rust Head Blue Goose from Goose Hunting in Texas
Rust Head Blue Trophy Goose from Goose Hunting in Texas

I also really enjoy a goose hunting – especially snow goose hunting. Snow geese are so very wary that it makes hunting them a real challenge. I especially enjoy picking out the blue geese among the flocks of white snow geese – that’s an even rarer treat. I shot this one in a late Texas waterfowl season conservation order hunt and was drawn to it’s curious red/orange head. A little research pointed out that these birds get that color on their head from eating corn that has a lot of rust in it. It was the first one like this that I’d ever seen.

 

 

 

 

Summary of Texas Waterfowl Hunting

I miss hunting Texas waterfowl – especially the ducks. I love the wide variety of weather conditions we have for duck hunting in Texas. I’m enjoying my change from a hunting club to a wilder public hunt location on a local river. I’ve developed an easily portable duck blind that allows me to setup almost anywhere I find ducks to hunt. While I do know that a duck blind is important, I also think that’s it’s easy to over do it and not give enough priority to the spread, sitting still and waiting until they commit. I also enjoy goose hunting in Texas – particularly for the unique birds among the large flocks. I miss hunting Texas waterfowl and can’t wait until it starts up again in September.

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Water and Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Water is important when you are raising Texas quail for hunting.  Quail use three types of water – ground water, dew and metabolic water.  Of the three, ground water is both the least and most important type of water.  In Texas, we’ve experienced one of history’s worst recorded droughts during 2010 and 2011.  In the Fall of 2011, it seems to be breaking a little with some slow soaking rains every week or so.  With the huge importance of water and the need to actively manage habitat to sustain and grow wild quail populations, we’ve done quite a bit of work to find and retain what little water we’ve had.  This has put extraordinary pressure on our efforts in raising Texas quail for hunting.

Large Water Ponds

Standing Water Tank in White Texas Clay for Texas Quail
Water Tank for Texas Quail

It is possible in the Texas Hill Country to find soil locations that hold runoff water in the form of tanks or ponds.  These locations require significant amounts of clay soil and the potential evaporation is great.  Stored water in a pond provides moist areas where bugs can breed and become food for baby wild bobwhite quail.  Careful brood management is very important for raising Texas quail for hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainwater Runoff Collection and Retention

Standing Water in Grey Clay Puddle for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Standing Water for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Identification of and harnessing low lying areas with runoff can also be very worthwhile in improving your raising Texas quail for hunting.  Low lying areas that retain water can either be exploited by additional excavation or simply managed with additional water retention methods such as rock dams.  Additionally, these types of water retention areas are more favorable and available to wild bobwhite quail as well as being tremendous feeds to store underground water in local aquifers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identification of Wet Spots

Green Sedges Above White Limestone Clay for Water Seepage Location for Texas Quail
Water Seepage Location for Texas Quail

Locating soil strata for run off and collection only requires some simple observation.  In this area, the presence of muhlie grasses and clay soil are very good indicators of both water holding capabilities as well as potential water run off and collection opportunities.  It is these areas that also provide runoff collection opportunities and they are frequently found near the wild quail brooding areas.  Identification of these areas also provides great opportunities for game cameras so that you can conduct a census while raising Texas quail for hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determining the Viability of Clay Soils

Good Red Clay Soil for Holding Water for Texas Quail
Good Clay Soil for Holding Water for Texas Quail

Testing the water holding capacity of clay soils can be very simple.  Take the soil in your hand, add a very small amount of water and then start kneading and pinching it to see how long you can make it.  Approximately 3 inches or more is needed for any long term water holding capability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing Water Holding Capacity

Hole Dug in Ground with White Clay Soil for Experimenting with Water Holding Location for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Experimenting with Water Holding Location for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Seep Muhlie plants and a clay soil are good indicators or water holding capacity or underground water.  A small excavator or front end loader can be used to scrape test sites to determine the depth and thickness of any clay soil strata as well as the potential for underground water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harnessing Natural Springs

Beautiful Texas Water Spring with Green Grass and White Limestone Rocks
Beautiful Texas Spring

Naturally flowing springs are becoming rare in Texas due to declining rainfall and the huge demand that growing population centers are putting on the aquifers.  This is an example of a natural flowing spring that has been harnessed and directed into a small pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhancing Water Runoff Retention

Water Retention with Rows of White Limestone Rocks on a Green Texas Hill for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Water Retention for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

One water retention device that has been in use for thousands of years are rock or dirt berms.  The purpose of the berms is simply to slow the water as it runs downhill and provide it with the opportunity to sink into the ground rather than runoff into streams and rivers.  This also serves to recharge the local aquifers and regenerate any natural springs that exist in the nearby area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dowsing

Man in Blue Shirt and Green Hat Water Witching with White Clothes Hanger Wires to Support Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Water Witching to Support Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Dowsing is an ancient art that can be done by almost anyone.  In this example, my Dad is using 2 bent clothes hangers to locate water and/or moisture underground.  If you don’t believe it, give it a try by searching for the water pipes in your yard – I promise you’ll be surprised!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvesting Rainwater for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Silver and Green Rainwater Collector with Blue Barrels for Raising Quail
Rainwater Collector for Raising Quail

Rainwater collectors are incredibly handy devices when there is rain.  They are inexpensive, easy to build/assemble and provide an ideal opportunity to take a regular census of the wildlife in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dew Collectors

Small Beads of Morning Dew on the Silver Roof of a Rainwater Collector
Morning Dew on the Rainwater Collector

Another potential modification to a rain water collector is a dew collector.  These are typically used in much more arid regions and have to be quite large to produce any usable water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Water and Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Water collection and management is critical for raising Texas quail for hunting.  Large water storage tanks and ponds are good but are susceptible to evaporation.  Identification and exploitation of natural water holding and retention areas provides a much better opportunity to hold water and recharge local aquifers.  Rainwater collectors are also very good and are inexpensive to build and operate.  Dowsing can provide clues to where to look for water.  In summary, habitat, and especially water management is critical in being successful raising Texas quail for hunting.

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