Bow hunters after more than just whitetail deer

Exit teal season, enter archery deer season and you have what’s happening for hunters in Texas. The icing on the dessert is that squirrel season, archery for Rio Grande turkey season, and javelina season mean there is no shortage of outdoor opportunities available.

As of this article, the early teal season has ended hereabouts. A number of folks have inquired as to the success of the hunters this year. With record numbers of the teal, both blue-wing and green-wing, predicted to come down, the hunting should have been super. Well, it was for most teal hunters. All that seemed to be necessary was water in areas normally frequented by the birds. What has also been noted has been the unusual numbers of pintails, gadwalls and shovelers that have shown up early. Both the naturally early migrating teal and the other species will continue to head further to the south long before they would be legal game hereabouts.

Archery has become one of the most rapidly growing shooting sports. What’s really great about the bow and arrow enthusiasm is that there are many types of arrow or bolt projectors. Longbows, recurved bows, compound bows and crossbows are in the mix now for both hunting and target shooting. There is are some super offerings for the younger shooters. Archery deer and Rio Grande turkey hunting seasons begin on Oct. l. Add to that the javelina season that is opening for the archers

The teal season hereabouts was deemed great by many of the outfitters. Since the central zone dove season was also open, energetic hunters could hunt teal in the mornings and doves in the afternoon. The opening weekend of the teal season was great and then the bird hunts seemed to slow down. Soon after that, the light cool front blew in and the teal seemed to come with it. Although the primary targets are blue-wing teal since they are the early migrators, there are some greenwings here now. Shane Chesson with The Drake Plantation told me that on sme of their hunts, some of the limits were green-wings. That’s certainly not the normal scheme of things. Chesson can be reached at (409) 284-8616.

There are good numbers of big ducks also migrating early and also good flights of the native mottled ducks around. Chesson reported that the pintails, gadwalls, and shovelers are here in ever increasing numbers. His big surprise has been the mega numbers of mottled ducks.

At one time not very long ago, the mottled ducks that we call black mallards became scarce. These native birds once one of the very often seen game on a water fowler’s stringer. I am not sure whether the numbers dwindled because of the hunting pressure or the large number of predators, including alligators, that were in their nesting areas. The one thing that I know is that we are seeing good numbers of these native ducks this year. Be sure to learn the hunting restrictions on mottled ducks. In Texas, the mottled ducks are under the category of dusky ducks.

The Rio Grande turkey is found both south and west of our area. These birds are not as protected as are the Eastern wild turkeys that are in East Texas. In many of the Hill Country and south Texas counties, Rio Grandes can be seen in large numbers and their numbers seem to be fairly stable. The drought did hurt the nesting, but there are plenty birds remaining from the past season.

The Rios are by nature spooky birds, but they seem to be perpetually hungry birds. It is legal in Texas to bait Rio Grande turkeys. They will come to corn, peas or any other grain that domestic birds eat. Hunting over bait is not as challenging as is calling from concealment and getting a gobbler into shotgun range. Some counties will allow Rio Grande hens to be taken during the fall season due to large turkey populations. Be doubly sure to check the county regulations in the Texas Parks and Wildlife annual. You may also contact either your local TPWD office at (409) 892-8666 or call TPWD in Austin at (800) 792-1112.

The javelina is a grouchy little animal that looks like small swine with a bad personality. They are able to detect odors easily, but their sight is suspect. These animals are found in the more dessert types of terrain of South and West Texas. Should you decide to take a javelina, before picking it up beware of fleas. Sometimes they harbor many.

I cannot end this article without mentioning the great numbers of bull redfish that are present at the Sabine Jetty. There are speckled trout there also, but the redfish are as numerous as I’ve ever seen.

Tune in to KSET 1300 at 6 p.m. on Thursdays for Billy Halfin Outdoors and listen to the updates daily at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.