Through hordes of hungry mosquitos, venomous snakes, and alligators, the September exodus offers hunters their first opportunities to chase ducks, more specifically teal. You cannot wait to sit in your blind, dripping sweat, hoping to spot the season’s first birds. The sweltering heat and relentless need for industrial strength insect repellent make you question your sanity. Then an energetic group of blue angels, flying at warp speed, appears out of nowhere, and you immediately remember why you are subjecting yourself to such torture.
The first migration of ducks sets the stage for a long-anticipated game of chasing and outwitting very fitting adversaries. These fast flying, aerial acrobats offer the perfect training opportunities for new and old duck hunters alike. Depending on your location, this short, early teal season is open for 9 to 16 days. The majority of southern states have a September teal season, and more and more northern states are offering one as well.
I have hunted September teal in some strange places, and I have rarely been able to use the same approach more than once. The important thing to remember is do not overthink these birds. September teal season is usually a right place at the right time game. If you can locate a prime area, the location will literally suck the teal from the sky. In some of my hunting locations, I have spent mornings watching groups of teal tornado out of the sky into a spot a hundred yards away. Then change locations the next morning and watch them tornado into the spot I hunted the previous morning.
Hunting September teal is a fast-paced, adrenaline pumping event. These birds decoy well and respond quickly to calling. A large decoy spread sis not needed. Teal decoy well to only a dozen or two strategically placed blocks. When it comes to calling, the fast, raspy sound of the hen teal is unmistakable. Combine this with the sharp peep of the drake, and you have a deadly and convincing combination.
When it comes time to hunt early season teal, you better have put in plenty of time shooting skeet. I have watched these feathered-covered footballs can make the best shooters hang their heads in shame. The small size of teal make them appear to fly much faster than they really fly. Add this fact to their erratic and unpredictable flight paths, and you have one challenging target. The nimble flying skills of teal allow them to bank vertically after the first volley of gunfire. So you must be prepared to quickly transition from the horizontal shot and swing your shotgun vertically towards the rising birds without ever pulling your cheek away from your gunstock. Once you transition to the rising group, you will follow the classic swing through lead. Once your barrel covers the duck, pull the trigger. You can also gain another advantage by dropping down to No. 6 steel shot. The smaller shot will give you a better pattern for these smaller birds.
Part II coming soon…..