Gear Up for Teal

I love September teal season. It’s an easy-going style of hunting, and I can usually bank on shooting a few birds. A plate of crispy-fried teal breasts and cold beer after the hunt is tough to beat. Required gear is pretty minimal for teal hunting, but aside from my shotgun and waders, there are some small items I consider necessities.

For years, one of my favorite tools for cleaning teal, doves, squirrels, quail and other small game has been a good pair of game shears. I’ve always been partial to these Gerber shears myself, but admittedly, I’ve had no need to try any others. I’m sure good shears are made by a variety of cutlery companies.

Shears make short work of snipping off a teal’s wings, legs and head. From there, the bird can be easily gutted and skinned or plucked. If you’re looking to reduce the mess at home or at camp, it’s an easy matter to snip away everything but a wing for identification purposes and clean the rest of the bird in the field. Often, I take care of this at the truck immediately after hunting and get my birds on ice before heading home, an important step in September heat. Game shears work for larger ducks as well, although a sharp, stout knife is a better choice for mallard-sized and larger birds, since their wing bones can be on the heavy side.

Another useful item for hunting in September is the ThermaCell. A buddy introduced me to that magical little device during a Fourth of July party several summers ago. Mine gets a continuous workout throughout the year while turkey hunting, fishing and bowhunting, but I’m most proud to have it in the teal marsh. Teal hunting takes place on shallow mud flats with abundant vegetation in my neck of the woods, and mosquitoes can be unbearable in these places. Bug spray helps, but a ThermaCell turned on and placed nearby works wonders. The aggravating critters not only avoid biting you, they avoid buzzing around you.

To learn more about teal hunting, check out the feature article, “Tips for Early Teal,” in the September/October issue of Ducks Unlimited magazine. In the meantime, I know there are a bunch of teal hunters out there, and you probably have a few little overlooked items you consider essential. What are they?

–Will

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    schantz red said,

    what do you think this teal season will be like im from arkansas and it looks to me to be shaping up plenty of water and a stable weather pattern. Any hints or ideas please fill free to letme know

  2. 2

    There’s been plenty of rain over that way, no doubt. And, it’s been unseasonably cool. Teal are definitely a here-today-gone-tomorrow proposition, so predicting what the hunting will be like in a few weeks is difficult, especially with the weather we’re seeing this year. However, I’ve talked some some Arkansas hunters here at DU NHQ, and they’re pretty optimistic. Chances are good there will be abundant slash water available opening week, in addition to a lot of rice still in fields because of the wet conditions. Farmers in east Arkansas are already seeing a few birds, but say they’ve yet to appear in big numbers. Stay tuned.

    -Will

  3. 3

    Zach Robinson said,

    I live in Missouri and went teal hunting this past weekend and never even saw one!! With the cool weather that we have had do you think that the duck will get here a bit faster than normal?

  4. 4

    Zach,

    It’s always tough to predict the movements of teal, but it’s been especially tough this year given the weather patterns we’ve seen. You’re not alone in your Missouri observation. I know a few of my buddies in Kentucky were seeing several teal a few weeks ago, but when I went scouting Monday morning, the birds were gone. Bluewings are finicky critters, no doubt. I have my fingers crossed, hoping another wave will push through.

    –Will

  5. 5

    Mikal said,

    Were Should i go to hunt teal in the very back of bays or out around points or my slough which only holds wood ducks

  6. 6

    Will Brantley said,

    Mikal,

    The backs of bays are probably the best bet for teal, particularly if there are shallow mud flats in them.

    It’s always a toss-up for me as well between teal and wood ducks during the early seasons in Kentucky and Tennessee. Both are fun to hunt, but the strategy tends to be quite a bit different!

    -Will

  7. 7

    B.M. Barrelcooker said,

    Will, What do you think the prospects are on a late season waterfowl migration? It has been very sporadic here in West-Ky and we really don’t know if we should keep on slugging it out or just bag everything up in hopes of a better season next year. B.M. Aintry,ky


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