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Smith: 'Tis the season for birds

Dec. 26, 2013 at 4:44 p.m.

The Christmas holiday usually finds families enjoying each other and visiting loved ones. The families that enjoy outdoor activities will normally add some hunting activities with visiting loved ones. Old friends or relatives getting together to share a duck blind, deer hunt or dove shoot are common in East Texas during the holidays. This year should be no different except possibly much better as far a wing shooting.

The annual "Christmas Dove season" opened last week and a normal scouting run in East Texas has revealed many, fat winter birds in the area. Power lines in fields with dried goat weeds below them are a popular spot with winter doves. Plowed ground is also a great place to look for growing numbers of the wintering flocks. It is common for the doves to form large flocks during the winter. These groups will grow in numbers throughout the winter, feeding and roosting together. Some of the birds will even stay over and nest, raising their young, all here in East Texas. Most however stick with the migratory program and pair up elsewhere on their migration route. The main thing is they are here for the holidays and shooting big, fat, winter dove is a great way to spend a winter afternoon.

If doves aren't to your taste, how about early winter greenheads? The recent rains have put water in sloughs that have been dry for several years. We have an actual surplus of rain for 2013 which is the first in several years. The adequate water coupled with timely cold fronts to push ducks our way has put the second split of the duck season our best bet in years. I have heard reports in the Sabine River bottom of flooded timber being full of Mallards. These winter residents are always welcome and no better after Christmas can be had than shooting a limit of greenheads with friends or family. Scouting is always a good idea when planning a hunt. These new ducks will be taking advantage of all the water in our area. Flooded fields that border tree lines are classic puddle duck magnets. The birds can find multiple types of seeds and of course acorns are always high on their menu. Check the local farm ponds and chances are a group of newly arriving ducks will be using one in your area.

Dove season runs from December 20th to January 5th with a 15 bird limit. From December 21st until January 26th duck season will afford plenty of time to get out and put a few birds in the sack while enjoying family and friends.




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