The Stage Is Set For A Great Duck Season by: Luke Clayton
Seven Points, Texas- Sometime Mother Nature prepares a ‘natural’ smorgasbord for migrating waterfowl in the form of wild plants, nut bearing trees and water just deep enough for puddle ducks to feed. Other times, man intervenes with bull dozers, plows and seeds and manipulates the landscape to make it attractive to waterfowl heading to winter along the Gulf Coast and farther south into Mexico and Central America.
I just returned from a tour of Rice Rod and Gun Club where Cory Vinson has teamed with landowner Donny Rice to develop what is sure to become one of the premier duck and goose hunting destinations in North Texas. The wetland consists of several thousand acres situated a short distance from the Trinity River and I’m quite sure that left untouched by man, the marshes and lowlands would be a duck haven but, the far thinking team of Vinson/Rice wanted the club land to be the best it could be. Thus, they have kept dozers, plows and planters working overtime during the summer months creating levies, grading new marshes and installing drainage pipes with valves to manipulate the water.
The land has a couple of big ‘roost ponds’, consisting of over 400 acres. These are great spots for ducks and geese to spend the night away from predators, but the big open water ponds which were once gravel pits, are much too deep for puddle ducks to feed. Feeding ducks need water no deeper than 18 inches and they prefer it even shallower. Several hundred acres of interconnected shallow marshes have been developed and with the next heavy rain, will become ‘duck heaven’ for mallards, gadwall, pintail, teal and widgeon heading south. Rice says several hundred geese usually winter on the lower fields that are planted in winter oats and wheat for grazing.
As Vinson and I drove around a perimeter road on the wetlands, we used binoculars and spotted large numbers of native wood ducks and several flocks of migrant teal. Granted, the teal are ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ and their migration will be finished by the opener of the general duck season but with all the available food and water, it’s a good bet many of them will end their migration here. The Wood Duck numbers are already strong and will surely become stronger with the influx of ‘new birds’ sometime in October with the passage of the first strong cold front of the season.
“When Donny and I first began making plans in the early spring”, says Vinson, “it was obvious that we had two choices: leave the land ‘as is’ and depend on rainfall flooding marshes for short periods, then deal with the receding water during duck season or, create a series of levies with pipes/valves to hold the run off water for extended periods. We decided upon creating the ‘ideal’ duck habitat with both plenty of shallow water and food attracting plants to attract and keep the birds.”
Wild hogs are plentiful in the area and sign was everywhere we took the time to look. The hogs had moved into some of the newly excavated marshes and were feeding on roots and grubs in the soft earth. Vinson says he still has a few openings for season leases where hunters have the option of setting up their own RV at the campground or making plans to stay in the comfortable lodge on the place. Several options are available that allow duck, goose and hog hunting or fishing on the well stocked lakes.
Duck blinds are in place, marshes are awaiting the next heavy rain and food crops planted for the ducks are lush, everyone at Rice Rod and Gun Club is eagerly awaiting cooler weather and, of course, the main attraction: DUCKS. I’m predicting a banner season and look forward to a hunt or two here myself!
For more information on season lease or guided hunts, contact Cory Vinson at 469-867-4299.
Article By: Luke Clayton
Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton radio at www.catfishradio.com