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    Woods, Wings, Water: Waterfoul season closes



    James Russell, of El Campo, claims the prize of the timber - a greenhead mallard.

    James Russell, of El Campo, claims the prize of the timber - a greenhead mallard.

    Army Corps of Engineers wants input on Colorado River lock changes

    GALVESTON - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District will host a public meeting Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Bay City Service Center located at 2105 Ave. M, Bay City.

    The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed adjustment to the operations at the Brazos River Floodgates and Colorado River Locks and gain public feedback.

    Beginning April 1, the district proposes to continue to support 24-hour lock operations however, gate swings will be limited from opening on demand to opening every hour on the hour for recreational vessels only. Commercial vessels, emergency and law enforcement will not be affected by these operational changes.

    "We encourage the public to participate in this meeting to voice their concerns and learn more about the proposed changes," said Col. Christopher W. Sallese, USACE Galveston District commander.

    The proposed change in operations is expected to affect more than 32,000 recreational boaters who use the two facilities each year.

    To provide feedback regarding this proposed policy change, log on to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CC68YVV to participate in an anonymous survey. Responses will be forwarded to the Operations Division staff and district commander for review.

    There was the 1994 season when fog blanketed the Anahuac marsh and 12 shooters took their full legal limit of snow geese.

    There was the 1997 season, when for one year, it was legal to take three pintails per man, per day. In a three-day span, one blind accounted for eight banded pintails.

    There was the 2002 season when a bumper crop of juvenile snow geese provided some of the best decoying action I can remember.

    Another waterfowl season is in the books, and with it, memories that define that particular year. Here is what I will remember from the 2012-13 campaign.

    The morning Ray Sexton and I braved a 25-knot north wind and took quick limits of gadwalls, wigeons and pintails just after sunrise. Then, while picking up decoys, a pair of snow geese, laboring against the cold winds, drifted over our pond at 15 yards. We stayed a little while longer and shot 25 more.

    Flights of 25 wood ducks breaking limbs to plop into an Arkansas timber hole was a sight to behold. Northern mallards of the greenhead variety provided an even better spectacle 30 minutes later.

    Another morning with Sexton amid a spread of white gave way to limits of pintails before the first goose lifted off the roost. Bull sprigs put on a show in the moist Jackson County field and brought along a pair of greenheads and mottled ducks to complement our light goose bag.

    This season will also be remembered as the first year water restrictions to rice farmers resulted in a loss of 50,000 acres of prime waterfowl habitat. With the loss of rice, patterns and movements changed.

    Specklebellies (white-front geese), normally gullible to November goose spreads, never really got in the mood of feet-down, locked-up decoying action that so many hunters are accustomed to seeing. Hopefully, this year was an anomaly, and we can get back to hunting vast rice acreage and fooling specks like so many waterfowlers remember.

    Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).



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