The two most important factors that make for a great waterfowl season on Lake Livingston are water and water. First, water on the Canadian Prairie and Northern US. Spring breeding grounds. In late May, heavy rains fell on much of the Canadian Prairie and Northern US providing much needed habitat for breeding pairs of ducks. U S Fish and Wildlife Service estimate 41.8 million breeding pairs of ducks. Just 4 percent below last years record of 43.4 million. Mallards had an estimated 9.5 million breeding population. 27 percent above the long term average. Blue and Green winged Teal numbers surged to new record highs. Pintail and Scaup however suffered declines. The U S Fish and Wildlife Service Fall flight index suggest 90 million ducks, roughly 13 percent down from last years record 105 million birds, will be headed down the Central Flyway. This includes 11.3 million mallards, down from last years 13.6 million. While down slightly from last years record highs, this years Fall flight is expected to be the third highest recorded since 1970. Today's water fowler have enjoyed the longest period of high duck populations since the 1950s.
The second most important factor for a great season on Lake Livingston is the water level of the lake. Lake Livingston is in great shape now to attract and hold ducks as they filter down the Central Flyway to wintering grounds here. The lake has only dropped a few feet below normal pool this Summer and should quickly fill back to or above pool with normal rains this coming Fall. The exposed lake bed is now blossoming with vegetation and as WATER covers the vegetation this Fall it will create the habitat that ducks love. Lake Livingston duck hunters are in for another great year with timely rains providing habitat for breeding pairs up North and a lake primed to attract and hold ducks.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has set the hunting season date and bag limits for the 2000 - 2001 season with very little change from last years liberal regulations. The commission gives waterfowl hunters the maximum allowable hunting season under this years federal frameworks. The agency added a day to the youth hunt this year , creating and entire youth only weekend. Action was also taken to establish the special goose conservation order at this time rather than delay this process until later in the year.www.palmettoguideservice.com
2000 - 2001 Season Dates/Bag Limits
Duck hunting seasons for 2000 - 2001 in the North Zone are Oct 28-29 and Nov 11 - Jan 21, with a youth-only weekend on Oct 21-22. In the South Zone, the dates are Oct 28 - Nov 26 and Dec 9 - Jan 21, with a youth-only weekend set for Oct 21-22. The merganser and coot seasons run concurrently with the duck seasons with a bag limit of five mergansers (only one may be a hooded merganser) and 15 coots. Duck hunting seasons in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit are Oct 21-23 and Oct 28 - Jan 21 (89 days), with a youth-only weekend season on Oct 14-15.
The duck bag limit statewide remains unchanged from last year at six ducks in the aggregate, which may include no more than five Mallards (only two may be hens), three Scaup, two Wood Ducks, two Redheads, one Mottled Duck, one Pintail and one Canvasback.
This year, goose hunting season opens statewide Oct 28. The light and dark geese seasons will also run concurrently statewide this year, closing on Jan 21 in the Eastern Zone and Feb 11 in the Western Zone. Bag limits remain the same as last year at 20 light geese per day and no possession limit. For dark geese, the bag limit in the Western Zone remains five daily with no more than one Speckle belly, and in the Eastern Zone a daily limit of one Canada and two Speckle bellies.
The commission also established a special conservation season for light geese to be tacked on at the close of the regular goose hunting seasons. In the Eastern Zone, the special season starts on Jan 22, with a Feb 12 opener in the Western Zone. The season closes statewide April 1. During this special season, hunters may use electronic game calls, unplugged shotguns and extended hunting hours. There will be no daily bag limit or possession limit on light geese during this special season.
Lake Livingston is one of the few remaining public waterfowl hunting areas in the state of Texas. Waterfowl hunting is allowed by the Trinity River Authority in accordance with state laws in areas more than 200 yards water ward from the Authority's fee line at 131 foot mean sea level elevation and two hundred (200) yards from another blind. Hunters should remember when building permanent blinds on Lake Livingston that they become public property and does not guarantee a person exclusive hunting rights to an area.
In order to assure continued public hunting on Lake Livingston for future generations, duck hunters should respect other hunters and the property. Take time to teach hunting ethics and safety to a youngster. Make a phone call to The Trinity River Authority and thank them for providing public waterfowl hunting on Lake Livingston.
Dave Cox of Palmetto Guide Service is a regular contributor to the Lake Livingston edition of the Texas Sportsguide. This article has previously appeared in that publication.
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