Blue-wings migrate on the leading edge of cold fronts that sweep across the country. Quite literally, one day a marsh or lake may have none of these little birds; the next day, after a front passes, it’s covered up.
Good habitat is critical to attracting teal in September. These birds like to feed in very shallow water, and often loaf on mud flats bordering these shallows. Find these areas before opening day, and be there when the season and the little ducks’ arrival coincide. Watch the weather forecast for any northern cold front activity – however slight. When the wind turns out of the north, go hunting the next morning.
Use plenty of decoys to be noticeable to passing birds. Teal decoys are effective on close-flying birds, but mallard decoys will work as well or better, since they are larger and more noticeable from a long distance. One good set would be two dozen mallard decoys (mostly hens) set close to the bank, with another two dozen blue-wing decoys scattered beyond the mallards. Leave an open landing hole 20-30 yards out.
Blue-wings are susceptible to calling when there’s not too much shooting. Hens make a sound similar to a five-note call of a mallard hen, except it’s higher pitched, faster and softer in volume. Call makers sell teal calls that closely imitate these birds’ calls, and they’re good for grabbing passing birds’ attention.