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Destinations

Texas Marsh Hunt

by Dale Spartas   |  November 3rd, 2010 0

A water Hunt Down Houston Way


Photos by Dale Spartas.

It was minus five when I departed Montana and an overcast 40 degrees when I arrived in Houston, Texas. Bill Reed met me at the airport and we were soon scouting birds. We found three or four locations with good concentrations of ducks or snow geese.


At 4 a.m. we met in the kitchen, poured a coffee and grabbed a donut. We piled into the Suburban, and we were soon on the way to the blind. With us were two Labradors; one young and relatively inexperienced; the other, Winnie, a seasoned veteran. Both labs were steady and great markers. Winnie handled like a dream and took lines and one whistle casts perfectly.


We made our way to the blind in pitch-black darkness. As dawn slowly surfaced on the eastern horizon, wings whistled above the blind in the cold darkness. It was calm and we could hear the yelps and murmurs of stirring geese in the refuge. “Ok, boys, load up and don’t forget that there is a one bird limit on pintails and it better be a drake,” Will Beaty announced.


Moments later, six teal decoyed and three stayed. Daylight revealed a bluebird morning, but there were ducks and geese moving, and we shot decoying singles, pairs and small flocks of scaup, Ggreen-winged teal, and gadwall, not hot and heavy shooting, but enough action to keep things interesting. The highlight of the hunt came just as we were about to be picked up. A flock of about 30 passing pintails 100 yards high turned to our calls.


It was minus five when I departed Montana and an overcast 40 degrees when I arrived in Houston, Texas. Bill Reed met me at the airport and we were soon scouting birds. We found three or four locations with good concentrations of ducks or snow geese.


At 4 a.m. we met in the kitchen, poured a coffee and grabbed a donut. We piled into the Suburban, and we were soon on the way to the blind. With us were two Labradors; one young and relatively inexperienced; the other, Winnie, a seasoned veteran. Both labs were steady and great markers. Winnie handled like a dream and took lines and one whistle casts perfectly.


We made our way to the blind in pitch-black darkness. As dawn slowly surfaced on the eastern horizon, wings whistled above the blind in the cold darkness. It was calm and we could hear the yelps and murmurs of stirring geese in the refuge. “Ok, boys, load up and don’t forget that there is a one bird limit on pintails and it better be a drake,” Will Beaty announced.


Moments later, six teal decoyed and three stayed. Daylight revealed a bluebird morning, but there were ducks and geese moving, and we shot decoying singles, pairs and small flocks of scaup, Ggreen-winged teal, and gadwall, not hot and heavy shooting, but enough action to keep things interesting. The highlight of the hunt came just as we were about to be picked up. A flock of about 30 passing pintails 100 yards high turned to our calls.


They made two passes, dropping 30 yards with each swing. On the third pass, the birds (mostly drakes) were setting into the decoys. Will shouted, “Take ’em!” A lead drake folded and the flock skyrocketed up and away like brown and white fighter jets. I picked a drake, but it folded to another’s shot, same thing happened again, but the third drake focused on was sandwiched between two hens and the shot was true and he folded neatly. That kind of flock is something I will never forget.


That afternoon we hunted Wilson’s snipe in a pasture along the edge of a marsh. The hunting was superb and we flushed several dozen. We each shot a box of shells with Kevin killing his limit while I only scratched three or four of the little buggers. Snipe are fast erratic flyers and, in my opinion, the toughest shooting of North American upland birds. They are tough, demanding and worthy targets.

The next morning we hunted a flooded rice field for geese, killing a dozen, mostly snows, as well as mottled ducks, widgeon and gadwall. Best of all, by midmorning it was warm enough to take off our duck coats.

Editor’s note: Contact Central Flyway Outfitters (CFO); www.hunttexas.com; (281) 255-4868.

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