Heading in to the second year of Iowa’s three year special September teal season hunters can expect to find most wetlands in good condition and near record levels of these small fast-flying ducks.
“The teal are there, most of our wetlands are holding water, now we hope that the migration happens during the season and the ducks stop over here,” said Orrin Jones, waterfowl biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“Teal prefer larger shallow-water marshes with healthy vegetation that supply a steady diet of bugs and seeds to dine on and cover in which to hide. Hunters can improve their chances for success if they set up with the sun at their back or side. That will help with duck identification and provide hunter cover,” Jones said. “It’s extremely difficult to accurately ID a duck while looking into the sun.”
Jones advised hunters to be patient. He said the highest activity period for waterfowl is the half hourbefore sunrise but shooting hours for the special September teal season begin at sunrise.
“Bluewing teal will fly around during the morning hours and decoy well if given the chance,” he said. “They are fast-flying ducks that fly low over the marsh so you won’t need to take long shots. It’s a species and season that is friendly to novice hunters.”
The special September teal season is open only for taking teal. In Iowa, that means primarily bluewing teal with some greenwing teal mixed in. Teal are small ducks; bluewings have a blue patch on their shoulder that is slightly larger and brighter on the males; greenwings are smaller than bluewings and have a green speculum on the wing.
“It’s a very sporting bird proving lots of action and at the end of the day you get to enjoy a delicious meal,” Jones said.
Hunters may harvest up to six teal per day with a possession limit of 18 teal. Shooting hours for the special September teal season differ from the regular duck seasons – shooting hours are sunrise to sunset. The season is in all three duck zones.
Iowa waterfowlers harvested an estimated 45,000 teal during last year’s special September teal only season which was second highest in the Mississippi flyway behind only Louisiana.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing Iowa and other production states the opportunity to participate in an early teal season. This is a three year experiment that hinges on hunter ability to identify the erratic, fast moving waterfowl.
During the special season, observation points will be active. Wildlife officials will assess shots taken at non target species; if too many non-teal are targeted, the federal agency will eliminate the season.