Duck and Goose hunting in Austin Texas is part art, part science and part luck. My best success finding a great place to hunt geese in Texas has been by looking through hunter comments on Texas goose hunting forums. Finding a great hunting location is largely art. There seem to be more successful goose hunts in North Texas. Texas conservation season goose hunts require a degree of specialization that can be very difficult to find. Successfully decoying and bagging geese is largely science and getting a mixed bag of species – and some sand hill cranes is largely luck. Goose hunting is not as hot and heavy in Texas as it is in other states so you have to dig beyond the obvious. Since the best locations vary from day to day and week to week, it is best to find a reliable outfitter who has access to large areas and permission to hunt.
Finding Goose Hunt Locations from a Texas Goose Hunting Forum
The Kay Prairie, just outside Houston, Texas is an ideal place to start looking for a great duck hunt or goose hunt. I found this place and a great guide service from a Texas Goose hunting forum. If you’d like to know more, drop me a line. The abundance of water, harvested rice and winter wheat, along with it’s proximity to the Texas Gulf Coast, make it an idea wintering area for all species of ducks, geese and cranes.
Texas Conservation Season Goose Hunts
Scouting a goose hunt is challenging – it takes a lot of time, patience, driving and a great pair of binoculars. In most cases, what you’re looking for is a location where geese are feeding during the day and then resting at night. Ducks, geese and cranes spend the night on water, travel out in the morning to feed, return to water mid day, travel back out again to feed in the afternoon and then finally return to water at night. It is very very difficult to get into where they are wanting to feed so your next best option is to get underneath where they are traveling to and from.
The irrigation ditches used for transporting water for the rice fields in the Katy Prairie are ideal hidden spots that allow a hunter extensive freedom of movement. I prefer this type of hunt-and-move hunting to the lay-in-a-blind type of hunting. The shots available to you will be different as well – you will have primarily passing shots outside of 30 yards where with blind hunting, you are going to have decoyed shots inside 30 yards. Take some time to practice your passing shots at the sporting clays course.
A mature blue goose, also called an eagle head because of their white head and dark body, is a rare trophy. Blue geese are a color phase variation of snow geese and are pretty easy to spot in a flock if you look closely. For some reason, they seem to be rarer during Texas conservation season goose hunts than during the normal season.
Duck Goose Hunting in Austin Texas
Late season, or even Texas conservation season goose hunts, are delightful. While speckle belly geese don’t normally mingle with snow geese, late season scarcity of food tends to concentrate them so you can bring home a nice mixed bag of snows and speckle bellies.
The Katy Prairie is about as far South as you can hunt Sand Hill cranes in Texas. Much further South and you start running into the restrictions around the Aransas Wildlife Refuge where the Whooping Cranes winter. Late season goose hunts are also an ideal time to find yourself suddenly transformed into a crane hunt. Hunting sand hill cranes is very challenging. Their eyesight is excellent, their necks are long and they have been shot at for many thousands of miles since they left their Arctic homes for the summer.
Sand hill cranes are also quite difficult to kill. There are two methods typically used to hunt sand hill cranes. One is to decoy them heavily in grain fields. This approach is typically used in North Texas and results in consistently high bag limits. The disadvantage to this approach is that you need a large and well concealed blind which limits your ability to move to where the birds are. The other method, pass shooting over decoys in a sand field, is much more challenging and requires passing shots outside 40 yards. I prefer this approach as, again, it allows me to move extensively to where the birds are. In most cases, if you can find where the cranes are coming from, as indicated by the first few flights in the morning, and then position yourself underneath them as they are traveling from their water roost to open fields to feed, you’ll have abundant opportunities for great shooting. That said, keep in mind that sand hill cranes are larger than you think and flying faster than they appear to be. Keep pulling the trigger and increasing your lead. It is not uncommon to bring down a sand hill crane without killing it so you’ll need to be prepared to quickly kill and retrieve your downed sand hill crane. They are very very hardy and will disappear in a heartbeat!
The daily limit for sandhill cranes in Texas is 2 per hunter. Sandhill cranes are also called “ribeye in the sky” and are delicious. The breast meat is the best part as the rest of the bird is largely long, tough tendons. Also, take caution when approaching a downed sandhill crane. Their beaks are long and sharp and they use them for defense as well as feeding. Most sandhill crane hunter hunt without dogs due to the danger possible with the dog getting an eye poked out by that long, sharp beak.
Conservation Season Goose Hunts
The Texas conservation season goose hunts are not as great as they used to be. End of season duck hunts, with big volumes of concentrated birds, seem to be the end of the duck and goose hunting season around here. Texas is almost at the very Southern most range of snow geese and the numbers are just not concentrated enough to present the very large flocks and juvenile birds that make conservation season hunting so excited and fun. I prefer to find a great conservation season hunting guide in Arkansas or Missouri who have the expertise, land access and large volume of decoys needed to successfully hunt conservation season geese. My favorite guide, and I go every year, is Habitat Flats. Those guys are absolutely the experts at Missouri waterfowl hunting as you can see from the video from my 2011 conservation season goose hunt.
Duck and goose hunting in Austin Texas and sand hill crane hunting is magnificent on the Katy Prairie. You’ll find outstanding guides with plenty of well-scouted and huntable land by using Texas goose hunting forums. You will find more goose hunts in North Texas so you’ll have to dig a bit though, as goose and crane hunting are not the top waterfowl sports in Texas. Texas conservation season goose hunts are rare in Texas but can be found. That said, I recommend Habitat Flats for their expertise and top notch quality.