So you feel pretty good about your shotgunning skills? Maybe you bagged a couple of dove limits over the last few days.
Now its time to up the ante so to speak. Trade in the light, lead loads for a little hotter loaded steel and get ready.
The middle of September is the time for Teal in East Texas. If you like a good challenge with a shotgun, you are in for a couple of weeks of pure “challenge.”
Teal were seemingly “designed” to bring successful shotgunners back to earth and replace the cocky with humility. Saturday morning, 30 minutes before sunrise, area lakes, sloughs and waterways will be buzzing with duck hunters and hopefully ducks.
We had a forecast of a cold front pushing into our area that would have coincided with the opener and most likely bringing a large infusion of Bluewing Teal. The weatherman started backing off of the forecasted 70 degree daytime highs and replaced them with the high 80’s. Typical September tactic — threaten niceties only to snatch the rug out from under us, delivering August-like behavior.
If I haven’t mentioned this before, August really gets on my nerves, and I tried to ban it years ago but I was reminded I love to night fish in August so it got a reprieve.
Back to the Teal.
We may receive a silver lining of sorts. The cold front initially forecast for East Texas may still push new birds into our area. If the front does not bring in new ducks the it probably won’t displace the birds we have locally now. To that second point, we have Bluewings in town as we speak.
Every year without fail, Bluewings use a couple of sloughs in our area. If I cruise by a see them on these two locations you can wager they are present in the usual areas. Toledo Bend, Lake O’ the Pines, Sam Rayburn and Lake Fork, are the reservoirs to hunt in East Texas. Fork and Pines are popular with Pines upper end having mass appeal with duckweed and other shallow vegetation. For some reason a Rayburn hunt seems to be boom or bust.
I have witnessed enormous flocks of Bluewings at Rayburn, almost like the coastal rice fields. Lake Livingston is another major player in September. The flats and sloughs above and below Riverside have produced some memorable hunts. Of course Toledo Bend will always have some birds and as with all Teal hunts — awesome today, zero tomorrow.
Teal don’t stay anywhere long as they winter in Central and South America. The Texas coast and rice fields will house a good number but the majority are international travelers.
The limit is six birds. The ducks don’t have their breeding plumage yet so the only way to identify a drake is in your hand. The rare sighting of a Cinnamon Teal or Greenwing Teal is fair game.
The Cinnamon is nearly identical to the Bluewing in travel plans but they are primarily in the Pacific Flyway. They are essentially the same bird until breeding plumage comes in. Greenwings are more like tiny Mallards and do not travel like the Bluewings and Cinnamons.
Good luck and bring plenty of shells.