Early teal seasons are regularly characterized by late-summer heat waves, but this has not been the case this year. While teal can be here one day and gone the next, cool weather and northerly winds have pushed impressive numbers of blue-winged teal into the Great Lakes states daily, and hunters across the region are enjoying some topnotch hunting opportunities.
“The feedback I have been getting this year is that teal hunting has been above average across much of the state,” says Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist Taylor Finger. “The weather has been awesome with lows in the upper 40s and 50s and highs in the 60s and 70s, so the morning conditions have been great. There are plenty of teal around, and I have heard reports of good numbers on the Mississippi River, Crex Meadows, and across the southern half of the state. It looks like most of the state has some teal, and some places have a lot of teal.”
Wisconsin’s teal season runs through September 9.
On the other side of Lake Michigan, teal hunters in the Mitten State are also reporting high success rates.
“We’ve had a great start to early teal season. Two good pushes of birds—one the week before the season and one a couple days into the season,” reports Michigan DNR southeast region supervisor Joe Robison. “Shiawassee State Game Area (SGA) and Pointe Mouillee SGA have been seeing good numbers of teal.”
To the north, along the eastern edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, DU volunteer Dylan Graves enjoyed success with his hunting partners.
“We had great hunts last weekend along the St. Marys River. With the river levels running so high, some of the backwater areas are perfect for teal right now,” Graves notes.
Michigan’s early teal season runs through September 16.
Across the western basin of Lake Erie, Ohio’s early teal season runs through September 20, and hunters are reporting plenty of birds.
“Numbers of blue-winged teal are at a very-high level in the Lake Erie marshes of Ohio,” reports Fred Zink. “Most hunters have experienced a lot of success so far, and the outlook is good for that to continue. Some green-winged teal have also shown up, but at very low numbers thus far. With the cool north winds hitting this week, we look for some to leave and some new ones to move in.”
Indiana’s early teal season opens on September 12, and Hoosier waterfowlers are anxiously waiting for the weekend as many birds have already zipped through the state’s notorious teal hotspots.
“We had a bunch of teal here last week, but many have moved on. It has been extremely dry, but conditions have improved some over the past few days,” says Mike Schoof, property manager at Willough Slough Fish and Wildlife Area. “We have seen a couple of good-sized pushes of teal already and expect more as the temperatures continue to drop.”
The wetland-rich Illinois River Valley and adjacent Mississippi River Valley funnel an incredible number of teal through the state annually, and this year is no different. As of late last week, Aaron Yetter and the crew at Forbes Biological Research Station flew the first teal survey of the year on Wednesday, September 2, and reported that numbers of blue-winged teal were well above the 10-year average at just over 55,000 combined.
“Bluewing numbers in the Illinois valley were actually quite staggering. The 45,000-plus birds witnessed this week was the ninth highest total in 72 years of surveys and will be the fifth highest peak count of blue-winged teal since 1948,” Yetter says.
Like other states, Illinois waterfowl hunters reported high success rates opening weekend. With many more birds in the pipeline to the north, expect excellent teal hunting opportunities for the rest of the early season throughout the Great Lakes region.