With the possibility of a good September early teal season looming for many parts of Texas and Oklahoma, how can an aspiring wingshooter be successful this month as flocks of blue-winged and green-winged teal buzz on by?
First, by scouting the shallow water marshes, reservoir mud flats, river sand bars, and stock tanks that attract these diminutive puddle ducks.
Why? Because the here today, gone tomorrow nature of migrating teal requires you to spend some serious time scouting these constantly moving birds. In fact, your most important piece of teal hunting equipment might be a good pair of binoculars.
When you find where the teal are — the proverbial “X” spot that waterfowlers are always trying to discover — that’s where your decoys need to be bobbing the following dawn.
Second, use the right decoys. While specialized blue-winged teal decoys by the likes of Avery’s Greenhead Gear or Avian-X are nice to have in the decoy bag, all you really need are a few drab-colored mallard hen blocks.
Why is that? Because all the teal you will see at this time of year are wearing drab plumage, not the brilliant breeding colors they’ll sport later on in the late fall and winter months.
Third, shoot the right shotgun choke and non-toxic shotshell load combination when you chase teal. And remember, these are not the heavily plumaged mallards or Canada geese of the late fall and winter months.
A good place to start is with an improved cylinder and non-toxic loads with pellet sizes in the #3 to #4 range for steel shot and the #4 to #6 range for loads filled with Hevi-Shot or something like the Kent Cartridges’ Bismuth loads.
Fourth, go easy on the calling. Teal — especially early in the fall — don’t need raucous mallard highballs and comeback calls very often. Instead, one or two soft, short mallard greeting calls, a few contented hen quacks, and a feed chuckle or two is usually all that is necessary to bring a squadron of teal over the decoys.
If you must have a call that is more tailor made for teal, consider getting either a Sure-Shot Game Calls 7-in-1 Rascal or a Bluewing/Greenwing Call that can produce the staccato quacks of teal and/or the whistle-style peeps that they use.
Finally, while early teal hunting may be a warm-up act for waterfowl hunting’s main course in a few weeks, don’t make the mistake of not taking September’s early teal season seriously enough.
Wearing camouflage to match your surroundings, wearing a face mask and gloves, picking up spent shotgun shell hulls, not moving until you’re ready to shoot, hiding in natural-looking blinds and carrying plenty of ammo are all good tricks to keep in the blind bag this month.
Because with a little luck, it should be a September season filled with the blues. Blue-winged teal, that is, coming to a duck blind near you!