HUNTING TIPS & TACTICS
The Blue-winged Teal is a member of the puddle duck family. They have two close relatives also found in North America, in the Green-winged teal and the Cinnamon Teal. In early season, the Blue-winged Teal can be often be found in small lakes and marshes in the prairie pothole regions, which is their main breeding grounds.
The mature, full plumaged drake can be easily identified by the stark white half-moon crescent shape on the cheek patch. Small groups and flocks of these little birds can often be found along the edges of the shallow marshes and ponds where the feed and also provides easy concealment from areal predators.
The Blue-winged Teal is a very early migrator each fall, which has opened up what many states consider an “Early Teal Season” prior to the standard fall waterfowl hunting season. This is also a great time of year to get the kids introduced and involved in the sport as it can be an action packed and exciting experience having multiple flocks of the little birds zipping in an out of the decoy spread with little to no hunting pressure prior to the start of the season.
Several tips on hunting these little ducks are- most importantly scouting, scouting, scouting. This is the number one rule of thumb in most all waterfowl hunting trips, let along the early Teal season. Making sure there are a good number of Teal in the area prior to the hunt is very important. The fact that the season starts so early, there is little chance that the birds will migrate out of the area prior to the “Teal Opener” which gives the hunter that much more time to scout throughout the late summer months and locate a decent number of the birds to hunt.
Decoy placement with the Blue-winged Teal is not as important as with other species of ducks. In fact using a spread of Mallard or other puddle duck decoys will work just fine. Although there are many very good looking Blue-winged Teal decoys on the market today at a reasonable price.
Take the early Teal season as a great opportunity to get the young kids and young dogs for that matter out before the colder fall temps set in and have a blast shooting the little buggers. They taste great and make for a fun and enjoyable waterfowl hunting experience.