Changing Times for Texas Gulf Coast Snow Goose Hunting

It was 20 years ago that I made a weekend trip to snow goose hunt the fabled rice prairie near Katy, Texas.  I was young, skinny, still had hair, and was a year-plus from marriage,  I still shot a Remington.  It was a friend of a friend that knew somebody's buddy that guided kind of deal; more than enough to compell me.  It was my first-ever waterfowl hunting trip away from Mississippi.  It ignited the flame that still burns to pursue waterfowl everywhere that they're huntable.

I watched snow geese fly over Mississippi's delta during their migration to the Gulf Coastal prairies while in grade school.  While I should have been pouring over math homework in high school study hall, I instead read and dreamed about one day hunting snow geese on the Texas rice prairies.

We layed on our backs in bare mud.  Comfortable ground blinds had yet to be invented. Our decoys were white plastic trash bag-looking decoys numbering in the thousands.  We hid among tight clumps of them. There was the perfect combination of wind, low clouds, rain, and skillful calling.  The snow geese decoyed perfectly, and I later grinned ear to ear while holding first snows, blues and white-fronts.  Three of those firsts were destined to adorn game room walls for eternity.  I was young enough to naively thought that, like the immortalized trophies, snow goose hunting in Coastal Texas would last forever.  But nothing lasts forever.

Urban sprawl has since flourished.  Combine a little dirt work and vision with the demands of civilization and proper zoning ordinances, and the table-flat agricultural fields along the Texas Gulf Coast are perfect for shopping centers, schools and residential areas.  Much of the historic wintering grounds have been paved pursuant to increased expansion of the Greater-Houston Metro area.

Last week I was disheartened to read that the Lower Colorado River Authorities relegated water for rice farming and duck ponds to the status of least-importance.  Meaning that permits to pump water for such useages are no guarantee.  Less food, in the instance of rice production, and less roosting area, in the form of irrigated duck ponds, necessarily equates to fewer snow geese along the Texas coast.  Texas outdoor writer Steve Knight opined that, "City growth and the demands of humans and industry now are at the top of the heap."

Certainly, the needs of humanity come first.  Changing land usages and public policy are inevitable consequences of time.  As another historical waterfowling area succumbs to time and to civilization, I review old photos from yesteryears while wondering what changes the next 20 years will bring to bear.  And I'm determined to enjoy the waterfowling opportunities that remain.