CHESTER MOORE ON OUTDOORS: Early teal season is here
The early teal season is open and runs through Sept. 25.
This weekend marks the beginning and reports show the birds are scattered throughout the region due to the vast amount of water standing in marshes, on the prairie and pretty much everywhere else.
The September season follows their early southward movement, which can be intense. At the first hint of a cold front, bluewings quickly exit our borders and head toward the tropics.
Back in 1998, the Texas coast experienced a brutal summer-long drought. Two days before teal season opened, Tropical Storm Frances hit, dumping water everywhere on the coast. Instead of shooting in marshes, hunters were shooting teal out of flooded cattle pastures where the birds had it easier feeding on floating seed.
We don’t have that much water but we have plenty so how should a hunter prepare to hit the field?
The key is scouting.
Teal are dabbling ducks and tend to prefer shallow mud flats and grass beds in marshes where they eat milfoil, seeds of pond weeds and tiny mollusks. High water can cover areas that would normally be productive, but knowing the topography of the land and locating higher ground that might hold only a few inches of water can yield results.
This means scouting the evening (or morning) before a hunt and know exactly where birds are. When they have plenty of options this is especially important because teal move quickly from spot to spot.
For years, hunters brought dozens of decoys for the early season, but that is becoming outdated. A dozen decoys of any kind of duck set out in the marsh will give these sociable birds an inviting place to land and you a place to shoot.
I usually bring only half a dozen teal decoys, a few shoveler imitations and a “robo duck,” and have no problem scoring limits of teal.
Part of a successful hunt on public land if that is where you choose to hunt is using the mistakes of other hunters to your advantage. It seems there is always someone who calls too much, shoots when the birds are too high or arrives in the field late and pushes birds to you. This may be frustrating, but if you keep your cool, you should get a shot at some of “their” birds.
When you do get a shot, make sure not to use a heavy load, which can destroy the meat in their tiny breasts. Also note that improved cylinder or modified chokes work great for teal, especially in close quarters.
Chicken-fried bluewing breast meat is my favorite of all waterfowl dining options. I am hoping to get out there and collect some and enjoy this brief but exciting time in the field.
To contact Chester Moore, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “MooreOutdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.