The opening of teal season on some of North Carolina’s public waterfowl impoundments was nothing to write home about, because some of them are still dry.
David Baxley of Headhunter Guide Service headed to the Commission’s White Oak River impoundment on Tuesday, Sept. 10, three days after the Sept. 7-25 season opened. After paddling his canoe one-half mile from the pay landing in Stella and dragging it over the dike, he walked it into the grass to set out two dozen decoys and waited for dawn to bring flights of blue-winged and green-winged teal.
"It was a waste of time," he said. "There were no teal, and I hardly saw a mosquito. Another party was in the impoundment, and all I saw them shooting at were a few passing doves."
He then headed to the Commission’s Catfish Lake impoundment, where he found wildlife technicians Michael Douchette and Keith Andrews unlocking the gate. The tank in the bed of their pickup was filled with diesel fuel for their tractor, which was in the process of mowing paths around the dikes. The tractor had also been used to disk blocks of the impoundment to enhance its moist-soils habitat. The raw lumps of soil were still visible below the waving stands of panic grass and other seed-bearing waterfowl food plants and bodes some mushy footing for hunters entering the canoe slide access this season.
"We've seen a couple of teal at Catfish Lake Impoundment, but we haven't started filling it," Douchette said. "They had a good hunt for teal on opening day at Pamlico Point. Two out of the four impoundments had water in them."
Douchette said pump problems had prevented the Commission from filling all of the impoundments at Pamlico Point on Gull Rock Game Land. Technicians had been using a tractor-PTO powered pump for filling impoundments No. 1 and No. 3 due to problems with the onsite pump house.
However, efforts to fill all of the coastal waterfowl impoundments are in progress, with pumping at White Oak River impoundment recently underway.
“The White Oak River impoundment seemed like it was nearly full," said Baxley (910-329-0818) said. "It looked like it only needed a few more inches of water to fill it to the proper level, and there was lots of foxtail and other grasses that teal like to eat.
"I think the problem was that the birds just hadn't arrived at that particular place, yet. I'm going to keep checking it, hoping that they will show up before the early teal season ends."