Early teal season means different things to different folks. For some, it is truly about the act of the hunt. It’s a chance at the early migrants that one may not get a shot at by the time the “regular” season comes around. It’s a full-on, hit the marsh and stack’em up affair. To others, however, it serves as one of several milestones marking the annual path that leads, ultimately, to the opening weekend of our regular season, where tradition, camaraderie, and the like play the larger role in kicking off a season of hope and harvest.
I must admit, when I was bit younger, I took early teal season a bit more seriously – a vigorous and hungry lad, I spent what time I had chasing the early birds around, especially in college, never missing an opportunity.
Nowadays, however, it serves more as an alarm clock – reminding me that I am a few weeks closer to the Big Dance. Reminding me that I need to spend some time in the garage, start the digging through decoy bags, taking inventory of shells and other necessary goods and gear, and of course, tidying up, repairing, and brushing blinds.
This latter task often includes a morning of an obligatory tossing out of a handful of teal decoys, and on odd years, we may actually shoot one or two… but this is the exception, and not to be expected. No, this is really just about reminiscing, planning, maybe seeing a few dove, and generally enjoying a fall morning’s cup of coffee in a duck blind that has yet to be, but is soon to be brushed.
So imagine our surprise when – in all of our lackadaisical-ness, we rendezvous at the pond for coffee and our sunrise is complimented by a squadron of Blue Wing Teal shortly after the clock says “go”…
That would have been pretty cool, and 3 teal would have been the best early teal season I’d seen in some time. But then they came. And came. We were limited out in the first 45 minutes, and observed 6-7 groups of birds – 4 of those groups being between 20-30 birds!
Obviously pleasantly surprised, we planned to hit it again, and did so during the week with little success, shooting the one that came in (hey, no skunk, right?) We did get quite a show from what I believe was an egret, who spent a good deal of time admiring our decoys and chasing shad…
As the weekend rolled around, we decided to make another run at it, and had another day more like the opener; several very nice groups, and another 8 birds, with my son making some great shots to add to the excitement.
We finished the early teal segment with yet another hunt – this one considerably slower, with 4 of us managing 3 more to finish the early bird session with 20 teal total. Pretty good by my standards.
You know, September just never feels “ducky” enough for me to get too wound up for waterfowling; seems odd for someone as “hardcore” as I think myself to be to not be all over the early opportunity to hunt. Some might speculate that it’s my disdain for crowded public marshes that keeps me from seeking out early action in favor of other pursuits, and that if my ponds drew a steady stream of the early migrants, I’d probably change my tune.
I gotta say, if this year was any indication, they just might be right.