Feb
18

Duck Hunt (Inland) Rotation – Self-guided

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The following is a rotation list for self-guided inland duck hunts on central Texas lakes or a pond, within 110 miles of Austin.

As I, Randy Rowley, have a full-time job, am not a guide, hunt on Saturdays (usually), and hunt on highly pressured lakes in an area of Texas that is not known for great duck hunting do not always expect limits on these hunts.  Our results have usually been far from it.  Here is our scorecard to date:

Season Number of Ducks Bagged Number of Hunts Number of Hunters Average Number of Ducks Per Hunt Average Number of Ducks Per Hunter
2019/2020 50 (44 on a pond) 11 39 4.55 1.28
2018/2019 5 (5 on a pond) 6 24 0.83 0.21
2017/2018 8 6 18 1.33 0.44
2016/2017 0 4 24 0.00 0.00
2015/2016 9 5 15 1.80 0.60
2014/2015 10 (6 on a pond) 7 28 1.43 0.36
2013/2014 11 (2 on a pond) 6 18 1.83 0.61
2012/2013 16 6 18 2.67 0.89
2011/2012 16 5 17 3.20 0.94
Total 125 (68 on lakes and 57 on ponds) 59 205 2.12 0.61

We will hunt either Lakes Granger, Stillhouse Hollow, Belton, Somerville, or Waco in their Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).  If none of the above lakes are producing ducks we might hunt two local ponds or lakes further away.

I can take up to three adult hunters (four counting me) on my 2019 20′ 3″ camo Excel Bay Pro 203 with a 115 HP Yahama motor, which has a camo blind (see below).

All five lakes are administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CoE).  We will hunt until 8:30 – 10:30 AM, depending on how the ducks are flying and the weather conditions (ducks often fly longer when it is overcast).

Granger does not require a CoE lake hunting permit.  However, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) leases Granger’s WMA’s; consequently, a TPWD Public Hunting Permit is required.  The cost is $48/year.  If we decide to hunt Granger we will hunt in the San Gabriel, Willis Creek, or Sore Finger WMAs.  Granger is 41 miles from my house.

Stillhouse, Belton, and Waco do not require a TPWD Public Hunting Permit nor a CoE lake hunting permit (see http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/stillhouse/Recreation/Hunting.asp). If we decide to hunt Stillhouse we will hunt in the Union Grove WMA on the island (the side depends on the direction of the wind).  Stillhouse is 11 miles further from my house than Granger, so we’ll have to leave 15 minutes earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.  If we decide to hunt Belton, we will hunt either the Owl Creek or the Iron Bridge WMAs.  Belton is 36 miles further than Granger, so we’ll have to leave 30 minutes earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.  If we decide to hunt Waco we will hunt either in the Flat Rock hunting area or in the Hog Creek or Middle Bosque hunting areas.  Depending on where we hunt, Waco is 58 – 65 miles further than Granger, so we’ll have to leave an hour earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.  Note that all hunters who hunt on Lake Waco must sign a Disclaimer and Waiver of Liability and have it in their possession while hunting.  Also, duck hunters on Lake Waco must wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material (144 square inches on both chest and back) and some type of orange headwear when leaving their hunting destinations.  In addition, no hunting is permitted around Waco Wetlands.

Somerville does not require a CoE lake hunting permit.  You’ll need a TPWD Public Hunting Permit if we hunt in the TPWD day hunt area.  If we hunt in the undeveloped area (the area designated by the yellow line on the below map) we must hunt from my boat, be far enough from the shoreline that our shot will not fall on dry land, and must not set up so that we’re shooting in the direction of the shoreline.  If we hunt in the “developed” area of Nails Creek Park (the area designated by the orange line on the below map) we must hunt from my boat at least 200 yards from shore.  We cannot hunt in the area designated by the red line on the below map.  The CoE Day Hunt Area does not require a TPWD Public Hunting Permit, although we can only hunt from the shore in that area (we can’t hunt from my boat).  Somerville is 54 miles further than Granger, so we’ll have to leave an hour earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.

We also might hunt a pond just east of Austin.  If so, there is a $20/hunter charge and we won’t be using my boat.  We’ll walk a short distance and hunt behind a blind or camo netting or use natural cover.  If we hunt the pond we can take up to five hunters, counting Chris Campbell, the host.

The pond

NOTE: Do not attempt to arrange a hunt with Chris on your own.  To be fair to everyone the pond hunts need to go through me.  If I decide that it won’t over-pressure the ponds, I will first contact Chris.  If he is agreeable to it I’ll let everyone on the rotation know so the other people on the rotation will have an opportunity to go.  If guys are trying to arrange their own hunts it is bypassing the other guys on the rotation.  That’s not fair to them.  It would also contribute to over-pressuring the pond.  If we over-pressure it then it will ultimately result in poor future hunts, as ducks will start to shun the pond.  That’s why good guides have a half dozen or more ponds that they rotate their hunters among.  I have asked Chris to refer any requests from guys on the FCS Duck Hunt Rotationto to hunt the pond to me.

In addition, Chris is concerned about guys letting their friends know about the pond and then them starting to contact his grandfather directly.  If you have friends who might want to hunt have them contact me and I’ll add them to the rotation.  If we have people start knocking on his grandfather’s door asking to hunt it will shut the door on this pond and ruin it for everyone.

Costs:

  • We’ll split the vehicle and boat gas (the amount depends on the distance traveled and the number of people sharing the gas).
  • There is also often a per person park entrance fee (usually $5 each) or a boat launch fee that we will split (no more than $5 each).
  • If we take a toll road, because we’re running late, we’ll split that fee.
  • If we hunt the pond east of Austin, there is a $20/hunter charge.
  • We’ll stop at Whataburger on the way to the lake/pond and will probably stop for second breakfast or brunch on the way home.

What to Bring:

  • Hunting license, state migratory bird stamp, federal duck stamp, and possibly the annual public hunting permit (if we’re hunting Granger or the TPWD section of Somerville).  If you bought a super combo license it includes your hunting license and migratory bird endorsement but does not include a federal duck stamp or the annual public hunting permit, so you’ll have to also buy them.
  • Shotgun (a 12 gauge piston operated semi-automatic with a 3″ chamber is recommended).
  • Camo or dull shotgun case (a floating case is recommended as cloth cases will get wet and muddy; if you have a bright cloth case you can leave it in your vehicle).
  • Shotgun shells (Winchester Xpert shells or equivalent) in 2 shot (the 1550 FPS variant) chambered for 3 inch (if your gun is also chambered for 3 inch) are recommended.  I do not recommend anything smaller than 4 shot.  10 gauges and 3 1/2 inch shells in 3 1/2 inch chambered 12 gauges are overkill for ducks, in my opinion.  Steel shot (if of adequate size) will kill ducks – there is no need for Hevi-shot, Tungsten, Bismuth, etc.  You’ll pay a lot more for those shells and they aren’t needed.  You’ll not need more than two boxes and will probably shoot a lot less than a box.
  • Camo or dull shotgun shells bag, vest, or bandoleer (a floating blind bag is recommended if we’re going on my boat).
  • Headlamp or cap light.
  • Camo outer hunting clothes (including a face mask or face paint – absolutely essential).  If rain is predicted bring rain gear.  If we’re hunting a pond bring boots that you don’t mind getting muddy.
  • Waders (absolutely essential except on the pond hunts).  Breathable waders are recommended for warmer hunts.  Neoprene waders are recommended for colder hunts (if you wear 5mm thick neoprene waders on a November hunt you’ll probably cook yourself).
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).  There are storage compartments in my boat to put your drinks and snacks in.
  • A small ice chest to take your ducks home in (if you get any).

If we hunt from my boat you’ll not need a bucket, stool, or chair, as my boat has fishing chairs and benches.  However, if we have to hunt from shore (because the cover is too far from shore and my boat will stick out like a sore thumb) we’ll use my boat to ferry us to where we’ll hunt, park it 100 or so yards away, and sit in the cover.  In which case you’ll need a bucket, stool, or chair.  If we hunt the pond to the east of Austin you’ll need a bucket, stool, or chair.

Here is what sitting in the cover looks like:

I have some extra items, such as waders, floating gun cases, headlamps, cap lights, a bucket, a stool, etc.  If you need to borrow an item(s) let me know before we leave.

I usually start out with a modified choke.  If the ducks are coming into the dekes, I’ll switch to an improved cylinder.

I have 94 decoys (23 redheads, 17 pintails (four of which are on a jerk rig that I use when it’s not windy), 14 gadwalls, 14 mallards (counting two quiver ducks, a pulsator duck, a motorized duck, and a wind duck – I only use the wind duck when it’s windy enough to spin the wings and when it’s too windy to use the motorized duck), 13 teal, six canvasbacks, six buffleheads, and a widgeon.  In addition, FCS has 33 decoys (25 teal and 8 wood ducks) in its inventory.  Combining my decoys and the FCS decoys I have 127 decoys.  However, I’ll only bring decoys for the types of ducks found on the lake that we’re going to.  For example, I’ve never seen canvasbacks or buffleheads on Somerville or Granger, so those will stay in my garage when we go there.  I usually bring five dozen decoys on the big lakes.

Being on this rotation is a privilege and is not a FCS membership benefit.  This rotation is a service to FCS members and guests, but I will not tolerate the below actions.  I can and will remove a person from the rotation for any of the following reasons (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Not hunting in a safe manner, including deliberately not following my instructions and the FCS Safety and Shooting rules, Hunting and Fishing Rules, and Game Law Clarifications during a hunt.
  • Not paying for your share of the gas or fixing items (that are not yours) that you broke (including decoys that you shot and sank).
  • Not helping during a hunt (including not helping get my boat back on the trailer).
  • Not talking quietly, especially when ducks are coming to the decoys (ducks can hear you and will veer away).
  • Not controlling your dog during a hunt (a dog that wants to go play with the decoys or charge the ducks as they are coming in will ruin the hunt).
  • Indicating that you will attend a hunt and then not showing up.
  • A pattern of being more than a few minutes late.
  • A pattern of canceling at the last minute.
  • Not returning my phone calls and/or emails.
  • Contacting Chris Campbell directly and attempting to arrange your own hunts, which is effectively bypassing others on the rotation.
  • Letting your friends know about Chris’ family pond and then them contacting Chris or his grandfather asking permission to hunt.

The following people are on the permanent Duck Hunt Rotation:

  1. Ryan Rowley
  2. Ragan Brock
  3. Mike Walsh
  4. Blake Brosig
  5. Seth Parkey
  6. Binh Chu
  7. Brad Holbrook
  8. Wayne Weilnau
  9. Ian Daniels
  10. Zack Tumlinson
  11. Ken Miller
  12. Wiley Beale
  13. Steve Ritter
  14. Steve Fusco
  15. Chris Rowley
  16. Jonathan Fleming
  17. Edwin Zamora
  18. Earl Prochnick
  19. Chris Campbell
  20. Jeremy Franks
  21. Burl Fulenwider
  22. Kevin McConnell
  23. Roy Brigman
  24. Tim Price
  25. Kevin Wall
  26. Bill Bebee
  27. Jerry Stafford
  28. Thomas Palmer
  29. Jim Gault
  30. Robby Wilson
  31. Will Peterson
  32. Justin Painter
  33. Ron and Nathan Petru
  34. Ron Palmer
  35. Bruce Crockett
  36. Bill Smith
  37. Ron Denison
  38. Jeff Cates
  39. Kyle Wickham
  40. Brian Suter
  41. Steve Bird
  42. David Lesser and son
  43. Mike Thibodeaux and sons
  44. Jonathan Sherwin
  45. Kelvin Cheung
  46. Robert Butts
  47. Sam Martin
  48. Chrispy Harden
  49. Garrett Eklund
  50. Colin Jackson
  51. Jake Dumaine
  52. Steve Ritter
  53. Clayton Carrier
  54. David Pruitt
  55. Warren Moorman
  56. Jim McGee
  57. Raul Pena
  58. Jeff Morris

Let me know at randywrowley@gmail.com (my preference) or 512-922-2484 if you would like to be added to this rotation.  Also let me know if you have any questions.

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Bible verse of the day

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.net/