By Jeff Berti
It seems that when one hunting season begins, others soon follow. Such is the case during the month of September. As I mentioned last week, mourning dove season began Sept. 1. However, hunters have had little time to sharpen their shooting skills if they plan on hunting the speedy blue and green winged teal beginning Sept. 7. That’s right, waterfowl season is almost here! For those of us that had to endure the spring and summer months, waiting for our favorite hunting season, our wait is almost over.
Once again, ducks have had excellent nesting in the prairie pot-hole region of the United States and Canada this year. Just like last year, forecasts are favorable for the waterfowl hunter in the Mississippi flyway. However, just like last year, weather will play an important role in how successful the season will be. Last year, if you remember, teal season was not very good in north Missouri because of the dry weather. Hunting was good, if you could find water to hunt. However, the only places that had water were the public waterfowl management areas. If you had an opportunity to hunt the management areas, then you know how many teal we had migrate through Missouri. Otherwise, you probably thought the season was a bust.
This year will be very similar to last year with the weather situation. Although we had a fairly wet spring, most of the moisture has “dried up” leaving north Missouri in a severe drought. Also, the recent heat has caused the wetland vegetation to dry up. If we don’t get a sizable rain before the season ends, I’m afraid that we may have a repeat of last year.
Teal season will begin on Sept. 7 and run until Sept. 22. Limits remain the same as last year, four daily and eight in possession. The only legal ducks will be blue wing, green wing, and cinnamon teal. Most teal seen during the early season will be blue wing teal. Because it is hard to identify ducks in poor light, shooting times will again be sunrise to sunset. If you’re a waterfowl hunter, please note that the beginning time is sunrise, not one-half hour before sunrise, like it is during the regular duck season. Also remember, when you transport your teal from the field to home, you will need to leave a fully feathered head or wing attached to each bird. If you would happen to get checked during your trip, this is the only way for the conservation agent to identify your ducks. As with all waterfowl seasons, non-toxic shot is required while hunting teal. Lead shot may not be possessed during the act of waterfowl hunting. Shotguns will need to be plugged and capable of holding no more than three rounds. Anyone over the age of 16 will need to have a small game hunting license, a migratory bird permit and a federal waterfowl stamp in order to hunt waterfowl.
Be careful. Shooting can be fast during the early morning and late evening hours. Be sure you know what you are shooting at. You wouldn’t want to shoot another species of duck, or your hunting companion! Have fun, and good luck.
By Jeff Berti