Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
This year’s multi-segmented duck hunting seasons kick off with a special, 16-day teal-only hunt beginning September 1. Providing outdoor enthusiasts with more than two weeks of bonus, back-to-back, sunrise to sunset recreational opportunities, Iowa’s special teal seasons haven proven to be the best single change in waterfowl regulations in the past fifty years.
There is a lot to like about the Iowa teal season. From now until the bitter chill of winter freeze up, no duck hunting segment offers a greater amount of high quality recreation to a larger cross section of Iowa waterfowlers than our statewide teal hunts. The reasons are obvious. The weather is mild. The birds are abundant. Always in search of an easy meal, migrating teal are dispersed across a wide variety of wetland habitats ranging from our largest cattail marshlands to the tiniest Back-Forty pothole. Blend these factors together and the result is lots of ducks, and lots of people, in lots of places. There is plenty of action and plenty of room for hunters to spread out. Best of all, the teal season is a “free gift” of sorts, providing bonus hunting days that do not subtract from days allotted for regular duck seasons. For Iowa outdoor enthusiasts, teal seasons are clearly a win win.
When compared to other brands of waterfowling, teal hunts are a low budget proposition. You don’t need a big boat, expensive motor, or a truckload of equipment to enjoy a successful outing. A pair of waterproof boots and a light bag of decoys will do the job. When given a choice, migrating blue-wings prefer to feed and rest on shallow duckweed laden potholes, making local public walk-in areas prime locations for tossing out a few decoys. Since blue-winged teal lack the wariness exhibited by most web-foots, hunter success – regardless of a person’s age or level of expertise — generally runs high. But the fact that teal are easily lured to decoys doesn’t mean the feathered speedsters are easy to bag. When pursuing blue-wings, it is always a good idea to bring extra ammo. Although hunters can anticipate plenty of misses, those teal that are brought to bag offer superb table fare. Only the famed canvasback duck offers superior flavor.