Iowa’s Teal Season Opens September 1st - Iowa Wildlife Federation

Iowa’s Teal Season Opens September 1st

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. 

A flock of migrating blue-wings buzz an Iowa wetland. Offered as a 16-day bonus to Iowa’s regular duck seasons, the special September teal seasons are designed to provide waterfowlers with an opportunity to harvest early migrating blue-wings. Although blue-winged teal occur as an abundant nesting species across the Dakotas and prairie Canada, the bulk of the fall migration typically passes through Iowa by mid-September – well in advance of traditional duck openers. Blasting down the flyways at warp speed, teal that have nested in prairie Canada will begin arriving in coastal Louisiana by Labor Day weekend.

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.

Shallow Water Rest Stop — Locating preferred food sources is key to finding early season waterfowl. Shallow wetlands provide a rich teal-preferred, smorgasbord of vital nutrients. The list of favorite entrees includes duckweed, pondweeds, aquatic invertebrates, rice cutgrass and flooded smartweed.

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.

Banded Teal — Much of what wildlife managers know about teal biology has come from banded birds that were bagged and reported by hunters in the U.S., Mexico, and beyond. Teal banded at Winnebago County’s, Rice Lake, for example, have been recovered within the month by hunters from as far away as the West Indies, Central America, and South America. Some blue-wings will even venture below the equator to winter in Brazil and Peru — an incredible distance of 4,000 miles from their summer breeding grounds.
Scroll to Top