Hunters feast on teal, doves

Hunters feast on teal, doves

Last weekend’s teal opener was every bit as good as it was projected to be, and with the South Zone dove opener set for Friday, Sept. 21, this is shaping up to be one heck of a weekend to be outdoors with a shotgun.

Bobby and Alice Vaughan, who live just outside the Beaumont city limits, hunted a crawfish pond near China on Saturday’s teal opener and had quick limits for the entire family.

“It was as many teal as I have ever seen,” said Kenny Vaughan. “You know the drill — where you can’t pick up birds because by the time you reload the next flight of teal are in range. We were in the blind about 20 minutes before shooting time. At about five minutes ’til shooting time we heard the sound of hundreds of birds that must have seen the pond and were dropping from high altitude — wings just slicing through the air. There was about 20 seconds between the first few flights, but then nonstop after that.”

Without a doubt the best teal hunts were west of Beaumont and around the Winnie area on flooded rice and crawfish ponds. Hunts were also good along the coastal marsh. Mike Cooper, who lives on Sabine Lake, took easy limits in the marsh on opening day.“We’ve got lots of water in the marsh and plenty of birds,” said Cooper. “I think just about everybody in our hunting club got four-bird limits within the first 15 to 30 minutes of legal shooting time.”

It’s estimated that around 350,000 folks will hunt doves in Texas this season. The Central and North Zone hunts, which opened Sept. 1, have been nothing short of fantastic. This past weekend I hunted with Beaumont’s Dr. Curtis Thorpe on a sunflower field. For two days it was nonstop shooting at both white wings and mourning doves.

The Coastal Conservation Association recently announced $400,000 in habitat project funding. In cooperation with Ducks Unlimited, CCA Texas will fund $200,000 of marsh shoreline revitalization along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near Sargent. Additionally, in cooperation with the Galveston Bay Foundation, CCA Texas will provide an additional $200,000 of funding for shoreline protection and marsh restoration efforts along the Oyster Lake shoreline of West Galveston Bay.

“Sometime back, we announced that coastal marine habitat protection was the next important step in CCA Texas’ conservation focus, and we are dedicated to that vision,” said Mark Ray, CCA Texas chairman. “Since the inception of our habitat initiative, we have pledged and funded more than $2 million in marsh restoration and reefing projects.”

This latest CCA and DU partnership will help protect up to three miles of marsh shoreline along the GIWW near Sargent, Texas. Local erosion has caused severe loss of emergent and submerged vegetation, threatening critically important local marsh habitat.“A partnership between CCA and DU to enhance habitat along the Texas Gulf Coast is a win-win for fisheries, waterfowl and the people who enjoy them both,” said Sean Stone, Ducks Unlimited director of development. “It’s only natural that we combine our efforts, leverage our resources and together make a bigger difference along the Texas Coast.”

In partnership with Galveston Bay Foundation, CCA Texas’ funding will help protect marsh habitat from wave-caused erosion that currently threatens to breach into Oyster Lake off of Galveston’s popular West Bay. This shoreline helps support a prolific fishing area and serves as critical habitat for local bird populations.

“Galveston Bay Foundation truly values its partnership with CCA,” said Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation president. “The dollars contributed by CCA are incredibly important in allowing us to bring state and federal grant funding to the project, which often requires matching dollars. CCA’s contribution is critical seed funding, and its impact will likely be doubled through this process.”