As blue-winged teal — and a few greenwings — make their way down south in September, here are seven early teal season hunting hotspots that you should consider.
Call it a waterfowl hunting hors d'oeuvre if you will, the early September teal season that visits a number of states across the country.
While a few green-winged teal will occasionally visit a hunter's decoy spread, the blue-winged teal is the bread-and-butter duck of the September early hunts since bluewings migrate earlier than just about any other North American waterfowl species.
While bluewings can be here today, gone tomorrow flighty — if the wind even thinks about shifting to the north, they may pick up and head towards Central America — these early autumn ducks offer challenging wingshooting and excellent table fare.
With a dozen or two drab decoys, a teal whistle and/or a mallard call, a fast pointing shotgun choked with either an Improved or Modified cylinder, some #4 to #6 non-toxic shot, and a can of mosquito repellent, September early teal shooting serves as a great warm-up act for waterfowlers chomping at the bit in a number of places around the country:
- Mississippi River, Wisconsin - The Mississippi River's backwater country along Wisconsin's western flank is some of the country's best duck hunting each year. As such, it's also a good spot — think north and south of La Crosse — to toss the decoys out in early September as Wisconsin once again enjoys an experimental early teal season scheduled for Sept. 1-7, 2017. Catch a big push of bluewings heading for Louisiana and the early autumn shooting here in Badger Country can be fast and furious.
- Delmarva Peninsula Marshes, Virginia/Maryland/Delaware - As one of the most famous waterfowl hotspots on the planet, the tidal waters of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware can offer some good early teal hunting options for someone going guided or who is self-sufficient enough to tackle the big water of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean regions. Search out Wildlife Management Areas, know local and state regulations, and expect good shooting this fall during the 2017 early teal seasons in all three states (Sept. 8-26 for Delaware; Sept. 16-30 in Virginia's eastern zone east of I-95; and Sept. 16-30 for Maryland.)
- Louisiana Delta - While the shrinking marshes surrounding the Mississippi Delta country have plenty of challenges, finding good early teal hunting is usually not one of them. While the country is vast, there are plenty of shallow flats and coastal marshes that lure in swarms of September teal to such places as the Biloxi and Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Areas. Hit the migration just right during the Sept. 15-30, 2017 season and you'll experience fast paced wingshooting you won't forget.
- Oklahoma Reservoirs - When people think of the Sooner State, arid prairie lands and rolling reddish hills are what most often comes to mind. But the truth of the matter is that Oklahoma is blessed with plenty of water, particularly when it comes to several big U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs like Lake Texoma, Lake Eufaula, and Grand Lake to name a few. Find a productive shallow water spot or mud flat on the upper ends of such reservoirs during the Sept. 9-24, 2017 season and some red-hot early teal shooting can result. That's particularly true around the September full moon cycle and/or early autumn cool fronts that pass through.
- Texas Gulf Coast - Put simply, when the early teal hunting is at its best on the Texas Gulf Coast, there probably aren't many better spots to pursue September bluewings as they buzz through in good sized flocks. Coastal marshes and flats can often be good around such places as Port Mansfield, Baffin Bay, Port Aransas, Rockport, Port O'Connor, Galveston, and High Island. Inland just a bit, the rice prairies around Eagle Lake and El Campo can also be good. Do keep in mind that as of this writing, flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Harvey will undoubtedly impact teal hunting locations and success during the Sept. 9-24, 2017 season.
- Kentucky Lake - Kentucky Lake is one of the most famous bass fishing lakes in the country. But believe it or not, the waterfowl hunting on this huge Tennessee River impoundment can be pretty good too. Like most big reservoir across the country, waterfowl hunting success will vary from year to year and typically revolve around putting the boat in the water and scouting to find good concentrations of birds using shallow water areas. But for those who put the work in, a limit of bluewings is a distinct possibility during the Sept. 16-24, 2017 early teal hunt.
- Kansas Farm Ponds and Rivers - When most people think of Kansas waterfowl hunting, they usually think of the world renowned Cheyenne Bottoms. And while The Bottoms certainly offer up great waterfowling potential, so do the countless farm ponds and prairie rivers that also dot the Sunflower State. This kind of early teal hunting revolves around scouting for concentrations of teal - and gaining landowner access - but the freelance early teal hunting options are good for someone with a shotgun, some decoys, a tank full of gasoline and a pair of binoculars. Put in some windshield time and you should be primed for success during the Sept. 9-24 Low Plains Zone season and the Sept. 16-24 High Plains Zone season.
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