How to Hunt
Hunting teal is relatively simple. Finding them is often more of a challenge than setting up for them. Early-season teal are not particularly autious. Teal hunters may hide in brush or reeds at the water’s edge and must simply keep still as a flight approaches. Teal usually fly on the deck, so blinds don’t have to be as sophisticated as they do for warier ducks later in the season.
Blue-winged teal decoys are sold commercially, but the drakes are usually painted in breeding plumage with the distinctive white crescent in front of their eyes. When they are migrating in September, bluewing drakes are still in their nonbreeding plumage—predominantly brown. For this reason, I use hen mallard decoys to hunt early-season teal. Besides being a better plumage match, these decoys are larger than teal decoys and show up better on the water. A dozen decoys will suffice on small ponds, while a spread of three or four dozen decoys is all that’s needed on larger waters.
Calling also works in attracting the attention of passing teal. Standard mallard calling is effective, but a blue-winged teal call is even better. This call mimics the bluewing hen’s raspy, high-pitched hail call. One of the best on the market is the BT-85 bluewing call from Haydel’s Game Calls.
This year, be sure to check with the wildlife agency in your state to see if a September teal season is offered. If it is, give teal hunting a try. The cool mornings of September are a harbinger of fall, and bluewings on the marsh or lake offer enjoyable gunning and a great kickoff to another season of waterfowling.