Even though the cold has settled right on top of us for what has seemed like forever spring will eventually arrive (at least I hope so) and with it all mother natures’ wild wonders and new life. Migrants will return, fawns silently pick their way through wooded areas behind does, gobbling toms search for hens, Blackbirds stake out their cattail territories along with waterfowl and upland birds finding places to nest. As sure as the sun rises and sets in a day these things will happen. Now too there are discussions taking place that will set a fall framework for duckers. For a waterfowler, especially those who have experienced a number of them there could be changes. We’ve certainly seen a number of them and perhaps will again. One potential change could be the addition of an early teal season again! The word again pops up because it was tried before. The year escapes me but I remember going with dad. But let’s deal with those memories in a bit.
Changes were mentioned above and we’ve certainly seen a number of them. Changes especially to the landscape most of which are not favorable to our webbed friends. Changes to the waterfowl hunting season framework too. Changes in limits, changes in what can or cannot be included in a daily bag, changes in the openings and closing of seasons intended, so I’ve been told to enhance the hunting experience and opportunities for waterfowlers. Last years’ duck opener, September 21 was the earliest I can recall with legal shooting times beginning ½ hour before sunup. My long walks even the week prior to that on public WPA’s left me scratching my head wondering who thought this one up? On secluded ponds there were still plenty of hens with young too small to fly. Sometimes a pheasant would flush with her young the size of doves only able to scatter short distances. I know too that this was probably caused be a very late cold spring but the duck opener was still set to happen in just a few days. The thought of these young birds swimming into decoys had no appeal. But the opener came, we hunted and shot some ducks although none were fully feathered and extremely pinny as I recall but not really surprised with it being the 21st of September.
Later Erik and I hunted ducks in the Devils Lake area and had an awesome hunt. One that had lots of birds coming by but also required us to be very careful to identify what we were shooting. Many of them were Redheads. There isn’t much time to make the decision shoot or don’t shoot as they pass by on the wing? A number of times after they passed we told each other that “those could have been shots!” Certainly a tough decision—fun but still tough!
Now to personal memories of a teal season past. It seems that it took place in late September and when the shooting started it was short lived with a limited number of hunters out. The weather was nice and they simply settled in. I remember another hunter shooting at passing birds dropping one from high above. I distinctly recall dad commenting “what’s he doin’ that’s a mallard!” I’m sure that hasn’t changed either – some can’t or don’t care to ID birds prior to shooting. It should be a concern to decision makers, at least I think so. I remember too that when the real duck season began it wasn’t a typical opener with lots of birds in the air and few teal. It seems too that a number had left. Maybe due to cold weather or maybe because of the early season. Don’t know!
Now on to the “when” of an early teal season? If last year we began the regular waterfowl season on the 21st how early could it be? There already probably will be what I called last year an “early early goose season” again with the intention of taking some of the birds from the resident population. If “hunter opportunities” are driving thoughts of an early teal season isn’t this a better option? With the issues we have surrounding Minnesota ducks this hunter doesn’t think we need an early teal season especially allowing 1 mistake duck! Doesn’t seem like a very wise idea to me! Maybe the mistake is even considering it!
I’m just sayin’!
“Come On Man!”