When the subject is duck hunting, we automatically think of home and Arkansas. Granted, War Eagle is based in LA (that’s Lower Arkansas, of course).
Situated near the bottom of the Mississippi Flyway, Arkansas’ Grand Prairie has become known as a duck hunter’s paradise. So, it’s with begrudging respect that we tip our hat to neighboring Texas and its burgeoning duck hunting experience.
Waterfowl habitats are increasing in the Lone Star State’s interior, and more ducks are wintering there because of them.
Waterfowl program leader Kevin Kraai of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said mid-winter estimates last year showed the number of ducks wintering in Texas at roughly 6 million. That number is expected to increase.
“That’s up from about 4.7 million total ducks in 2016 and well above the average of the last two decades which was nearly 3.8 million,” he said.
Rapidly expanding waterfowl habitat has been a major factor in the increase, and most important of these are small cattle tanks and stock ponds, according to TWA.
“There is not a fool-proof recipe for creating the ultimate duck hole, but it seems that tanks sporting some emergent vegetation receive the most traffic,” said TWA’s Nate Skinner.
Here’s more from TWA’s report on wintering ducks:
“Limited cattle disturbance is also an important factor, and it’s something landowners can manage,” explained Kraai. “Tanks that receive a controlled amount of livestock activity are used frequently by ducks. Both too much and too little cattle disturbance produce a pond void of waterfowl.”
Perhaps the biggest reason why small, manmade water bodies within Texas are wintering so many ducks each year is because they provide shelter.
“Not only is there plenty of habitat in this area of the state in terms of food and water, there is also very little pressure on the birds,” Kraai said.
He said the concentrations of waterfowl hunters in the central portion of the state are lower than in other locations.
“Most of the waterfowl hunting in this area takes places on larger bodies of water,” he explained, “leaving the smaller tanks and ponds as undisturbed habitat for ducks to rest.”
Kraai also said that each small tank and stock pond is holding only a small number of ducks at a time.
“It’s the sheer numbers of these features across the terrain that make them so valuable to waterfowl,” he said. “Each pond may only winter a small number of birds, but across thousands of miles, these numbers add up quickly. The lack of intense hunting pressure in the region combined with the immense habitat available is quickly making interior Texas the largest winter home for waterfowl in North America.”
The Texas interior has become so important to wintering sucks that state game officials have brought in researchers at Texas Tech to analyze the habitat and determine the carrying capacity of individual bodies of water.
Mar 28, 2018 -
It may not be hunting the glorious flooded, green timber of the Grand Prairie and Arkansas Delta, but waterfowl conservation and the expansion of duck hunting is something from which everyone can benefit.