Teal arrive out of nowhere and often buzz the decoys before you have time to raise your shotgun. These fast flying small ducks are often the waterfowler’s first opportunity of the season, and many of us have a hard time shaking off the rust and limiting out. No matter. Just being in the marsh again, hunting ducks, is enough to stir the soul of any dedicated waterfowl hunter.
In Missouri, teal season runs September 12 – 27. You may hunt blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and cinnamon teal. The daily bag limit is six and the possession limit is 18.
A limit can be comprised of any combination of the above-mentioned teal species. To legally hunt teal, you must possess a small game hunting permit, migratory bird hunting permit and a federal duck stamp. You may use shotguns, 10 gauge or smaller. Shotguns that hold more than 3 shells must be plugged. And you must use nontoxic shot only. You cannot hunt waterfowl with lead shot.
Teal hunting isn’t the large-scale affair waterfowling often becomes later in the season. A dozen decoys will do fine in a small puddle of water. Ideal teal habitat is shallow sloughs, marshes and drying out flooded fields. Teal like slow moving or still water. They don’t mind mud. You rarely need a boat for teal hunting. A good retriever is always nice, but again not necessary.
During the later stages of duck season, you are often forced to wear so many layers of clothes to stay warm you end up looking like the marshmallow man. During teal season, you often end the hunt in a short sleeves. When I plan for teal season, I wear a light pair of pants under breathable camouflage waders, with a t-shirt under a light long-sleeve fleece. Once the sun comes up the fleece usually comes off.
There are many places to teal hunt around Missouri on public land. Backwater sloughs off big rivers and large agricultural ditches are a few of my favorite places to find early season teal. There are a number of conservation areas that have excellent teal hunting all around the state, and most of them do not hold drawings for teal season.
MDC has a page on their website titled, “Teal Season Wetland Conditions.” This page is filled with information about teal hunting on conservation areas across Missouri. Take Eagle Bluffs, located just outside of Columbia on the Missouri River, for example. This is one of the most popular waterfowl hunting properties in the state and is part of the Quick Draw system during regular duck season. But according to this document, during teal season, there is no draw and there is no limit on hunting parties. Meaning if you show up, you’ll be able to hunt. The same goes for other popular properties, like Fountain Grove, Bob Brown and Four Rivers.
Since it is usually warm outside, you don’t need nearly as much equipment and hunting spots are often easily accessible, teal hunting is a great for introducing youth or new hunters to duck hunting. For those of us with a few years under our belts, teal hunting is the perfect way to begin another long season.
See you down the trail…
In the St. Louis area? Read our recent blog post about a conservation area setting the bar. The August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area has numerous hunting & fishing opportunities for Missourians to enjoy.