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Examiner
  • Kenneth Kieser: Teal season in September

  • Cool air in the early morning made lightweight camouflage jackets comfortable alongside the small pool, located in a never-ending stretch of prairie in Northwest Missouri. The day was perfect except for an absence of teal – a fast flying little duck that passes through the Midwest ahead of bigger ducks that will follow in November.

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  • Cool air in the early morning made lightweight camouflage jackets comfortable alongside the small pool, located in a never-ending stretch of prairie in Northwest Missouri. The day was perfect except for an absence of teal – a fast flying little duck that passes through the Midwest ahead of bigger ducks that will follow in November.
    We watched a pair skim over the marsh at first light, but then the sky became clear except for a flight or two of blackbirds and a water turkey.
    Danny Guyer owner of Iron Duck Hunting looked at the sky and shrugged his shoulders.
    “I guess the teal are feeding somewhere else,” he said. “They were thick in this pool yesterday.”
    We started talking about old friends and current events when a “whooshing” sound passed over our blind. I glanced up to watch the sunlight bounce off the blue wing patches of six teal that quickly skirted the pool and made another pass behind our position.
    Guyer said, “Stay down, they are coming back.”
    I allowed myself a peek and saw them banking to the north, then head straight toward us. The delicate ducks set their wings and dropped straight into our decoy set.
    The teal quickly took off, bewildered that they had been duped by a bunch of old duck hunters.  They swung up in an ill-advised formation and headed back north. Guyer quickly rose and swung on a teal that was pumping his wings for the safety of altitude. A load of Winchester sixes dropped the tiny duck back in our pool. I followed through on the lowest teal and squeezed my trigger.
    Mam-J, Guyer’s faithful black Labrador retriever sprang to life on his command. She splashed through the small pothole and picked up the closest duck, brought it in and then returned for the second. Both ducks were soon gently handed to waiting hands and the hunt continued – or at least the conversation continued. Again, the sky was totally empty except for flocks of pesky blackbirds.
    But this is teal hunting. This unpredictable duck could be anywhere including a nearby farm pond. The fast ducks love to sit in calm spots with plenty of food and stay. But chances are good they will eventually take a short hop somewhere, maybe for a change of scenery.
    Teal, like most waterfowl, sometimes have trouble making up their minds on where to go. A key to teal hunting is scouting a spot where they are, and set up there the following morning or evening. They might not be there soon, but they may eventually show up.
    “I like to use smaller sets of one or two dozen teal decoys,” Guyer said. “But six will sometimes work as well. Teal love to find smaller pools close to whatever they are feeding on. This may include row crops or some type of millet planted in the pool. But a small number of decoys will pull in birds.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Teal whistles are effective. Experts use whistles to get a passing flock’s attention. A whistle can be assurance to wary ducks that have been shot at. Limited whistling is more effective; sometimes a couple of toots is enough.
    The main key to early season teal hunting is bringing a jacket, mosquito repellent and ice to cool your drinks and sandwiches. In other words, be prepared for weather changes. Chances are most of your hunts will be in short sleeves. Shoot light loads, most prefer 6 shot in the steel, and use modified or improved choke barrels. Teal are small ducks. A well-placed pellet will easily bring one down.
    Later small groups of teal decided that bad weather was moving in and they needed a place to set. I picked out a pair and squeezed my trigger, dropping both. Guyer was doing quite a job of dropping ducks on his side of the blind. He had three floating not far from my two.
    The limit was six each, but we decided to stop at three each. Teal breasts wrapped with bacon are filling and darned good. We each had enough for one meal and that was enough.
    Teal season is an exciting challenge. Try it and whet your appetite for the main November migration.

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