“It’s just one of the things that ducks really like… water. If you don’t have it then the ducks keep going,” said East Texas duck hunter Chad Robbins. “Then your up a creek without a paddle, only you don’t need a paddle because it’s bone dry.” And it’s true. Blue-winged teal, like other ducks, need surface water to make a living. And although stock tanks can hold birds, many teal will look for large expanses of water to rest on their trip south.
There is only so much shallow water management impoundments can do. If you have your water control boards in and it doesn’t rain, then your duck hunting habitat is a no show, just like the ducks. Though many teal will make a bee-line for the coast, East Texas can hold a few birds, too.
In East Texas, teal are showing up on area reservoirs, but don’t appear to be holding long.
“We’re obviously dry all across eastern and north Texas,” said Jared Laing, TPWD waterfowl biologist for East Texas. “I have been seeing handfuls of birds here and there, but have not seen any big numbers yet. Maybe this weak front will push some birds in.”
Laing noted most wildlife management areas in East Texas remain dry and provide little in the way of duck habitat except Richland Creek WMA, which has several new waterfowl units coming online this year.
Up in the Panhandle region, conditions aren’t much better, according to Kraai. “We are holding a few birds up here in the playas at the moment on the few basins that caught water back in July,” he noted. “Conditions on average remain below normal, but still much improved over the last few years.”