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Published:December 11th, 2007 06:44 EST

Texas Duck Tour Day 2: East Texas Wetlands Project visited

By Chester Moore (Editor)

          The Pineywoods of East Texas are an extremely important area for waterfowl.
          Housing the state’s most extensive hardwood bottomlands and largest rivers and lakes, the region is popular with waterfowlers from Dallas to Houston.
          Day 2 of the Texas Duck Tour saw me and Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) Tim Soderquist hunting at Pintail Ridge Lodge, located along the Trinity River floodplain in Houston County.
          It’s the site of an East Texas Wetlands project which has helped to create some moist soil areas that give productive wintering habitat to mallards, gadwall, teal, pintail, wood ducks and a host of other species.
          “Texas is 97 percent privately owned and you have to go where the ducks are. Without working on private land we would have very little effect on habitat here so we partner with conservation-minded landowners like DU volunteer Lee Holsey of Pintail Ridge,” said DU’s Soderquist.
          Our take that day while hunting with Pintail Ridge member included mallards, pintail and gadwall which fell into the flooded field we hunted in textbook fashion.
          I couldn’t help but marvel at this high quality hunting which took place in the shadow of a gravel pit operation owned by Holsey.
          “They are very conservation minded and while they are taking from the environment they give back and being waterfowl hunters they have chosen to help create these wetlands which benefit not only ducks but also shorebirds, reptiles, amphibians and many other organisms. It’s a wonderful example of how industry can work in conjunction with nature,” Soderquist said.
          A big part of this tour is gathering information for a major piece on Texas waterfowl conservation needs to be published in Texas Fish & Game magazine. Hunting this area helped to drive home the importance of cooperating with private landowners and also how crucial hardwood bottomlands and their floodplains are to waterfowl in the region.
          I couldn’t help but think about the plans to create numerous reservoirs in East Texas which would flood many of these prime areas forever. And I also couldn’t help but think if I weren’t a hunter I probably wouldn’t care.
          My upbringing as an active participant in the great outdoors has helped instill a love and appreciation for habitat. And that is why DU has conserved closed to 12 million acres in North America since they were founded 70 years ago. That organization is driven by hunters and without us, waterfowl and other wildlife would be without its biggest ally in this country and beyond.
          Next up, waterfowl hunting in the Texas Hill Country?
          Yes, it’s true and you just might not believe how good it can be.
          (The Texas Duck Tour is a join conservation awareness project of Texas Fish & Game magazine and Ducks Unlimited. The idea is to raise awareness to conservation issues facing waterfowl in different regions of Texas by profiling hunting opportunities and the problems that stand in their way. Chester Moore is Executive Editor of Texas Fish & Game and author of the newly released Texas Waterfowl, available by ordering direct at 281-227-3001, at Academy Sports and Outdoors stores and on Amazon.com online. Twenty percent of the author’s proceeds will go to DU projects in Texas and the nesting grounds.)