completing my first walk-in teal or any duck hunt in the Texas coastal marshes has me left proud enough to make my first post on this board. I wouldn't call it a honey hole, but it was a great first experience.
Before yesterday I had been on many dove hunts and several quail hunts, but only ever one guided duck hunt (also in the Texas gulf, but for that we were spoiled by 4 wheelers, local knowledge and retrievers at a Duck hunting club). This time we earned it, with none of the above. We earned every bit. We probably got all of what we earned being first timers, but we got it nonetheless. For those that don't know, Big Boggy NWR is a public hunting area in matagorda county with about 5k acres of marshland available for use by waterfowlers during Texas seasons. I've heard/read people (on here even), say that this place requires a death march no matter where you hunt. They are right in the big picture, because most of the pot holes are quite aways in from where you can park, and you can't really make use of kayaks or canoes from a "walk-in" standpoint, and 4-wheelers are off limits here. So, you're walking.
I tried to scout the place during daylight hours (about 10am) a couple days before my buddy (also a long time hunter but newbie duck hunter) and I showed up in the dark the day of our hunt. I didn't get down there early enough to scout the ducks, but that was fine. My main intention was to ease some fear. I was more concerned with navigating the terrain which I know is loaded with alligators and rattlesnakes, and just the unknown of a new place with absolutely no local knowledge. With the temps in the 80's rattle snakes was our most dangerous threat, gators 2nd, and mosquitoes a 3rd place on the danger scale but at the top of the list in terms of things out there to make us miserable. Going down there in the daylight made it worse for me mentally. I couldn't see any water. No water from the hunter's parking area, and no water from the road that borders the main public area. The only water I could see was through the binoculars about a mile away and even that was just the very sliver of a lake on the horizon, too far for us to walk through in the dark on our first trip. To boot, on my scout trip, I saw no birds, but got chewed by mosquitoes each time I got out of the car, saw a large gator crossing a road in an area I knew there was no water nearby, and looked at every possible crossing point I could find thinking "that grass is way too tall to walk through without getting chomped on by a rattlesnake". So, I was working GPS satellite on my iphone hard, dropping pins and trying to pick the best path to water really not knowing what the marsh would hold in any given area. It looked pretty rough. Needless to say, pretty nervous leaving there.
I called my buddy to tell him about my trip down, and what I thought we should do. Plans still on! So we decide to meet at 3:15 and make the 2 hour drive from Houston with all our gear and just go for it. We did. Loaded the truck the night before, slept three hours, woke up 30 minutes late and busted out of there. One stop in Bay city, TX and we hit the 8mi dirt road into the refuge and both of us had adrenaline pumping pretty quick. We pulled up to the spot we thought would work best at 5:30 sharp, loaded out, sprayed down with deet, and just started walking. Mosquitoes looked super heavy coming into the refuge and the front of my truck is just powdered with them, but somehow we managed to do just fine. They didn't bother us. During our walk we stopped twice to catch breath and check the satellite for the pot holes. We finally picked one, set up our spread and blind, and took a seat. We were in about 2 ft feet of smelly muck water over a pothole about 2 acres big and just watched the sky change for a few minutes with the sun rising and rain storms blowing through. Withing a few minutes of shooting time we had Teal action. We couldn't believe it! Talk about a success!!
Our first bird came in solo, started to slow, and then quickly blew out...Then, two birds came in, lit up and bang bang..Hunt's over. We were stoked! For the rest of the morning, there was a fair amount of activity in the area, but not all that much teal. A couple of high flying groups and two pretty good sized groups that circled our pot on response of the calls for a half turn but moved on. We didn't take another shot all morning, even though some were in range of shot during flight. We were waiting for the interaction of the call with the Teal to actually come in. Didn't happen this time, didn't matter. Watched a lot of birds, learned about the marsh we hunted in for next time, caught a new addiction and had a great time with a good friend. Hoofing it through marsh and making it all happen is something I will not easily forget.
Forgive me for the long post, too much excitement.