Larry Reynolds is normally a “glass half-full” kind of guy, but he’s admittedly not expecting great things for the final days of the 2016 teal season, which mercifully comes to a close this Sunday.
“Unfortunately, I don’t see anything spectacular for the last weekend,” the state’s waterfowl study leader said with a chuckle. “I guess you could say I’m uncharacteristically not optimistic.”
And with good reason.
Things got off to a shaky start in the first week of September when he flew the annual aerial survey and counted only 97,000 birds — the second-lowest number on record. Hunter reports over the last couple of weeks have for the most part confirmed there just aren’t that many teal in the state.
“I’d say it’s well below average. Most reports I’m receiving are generally poor, especially from the marsh,” Reynolds said. “The reports from the ag (fields) are spotty, but they got a lot better after the opening weekend.”
An influx of birds did arrive during the first week of the season, resulting in better results for many hunters on the second weekend. Reynolds, however, fared better on opening weekend on his lease in the Cameron/Creole marsh.
“The birds weren’t using the marsh. They were just kind of flying by, and we talked them into coming and looking at the decoys,” he said. “But the second weekend was a ghost town. I hunted that Saturday, and my hunting partner and I fired one shot.
“There just weren’t many birds, and the marsh is 4 feet deep and it’s not good teal habitat at all.”
Just like any season, some hunters in some locations had days with limits, while others struggled. A variety of reasons played into the apparent fewer number of birds here this year, Reynolds said.
“There was better habitat north of us this year than there was last year, and the weather was warmer this year than it was last year,” he said. “Last year, we had an incomplete survey and I counted 247,000 blue-wings. This year I had a complete survey and we only had 97,000 blue-wings, the second-lowest on record.
“So on opening weekend, unfortunately the poor aerial survey was validated by hunter observation.”