PRATT – Most veteran waterfowl hunters treasure the early teal season that will open in a couple weeks. However, those less familiar with duck hunting are sometimes confused by the early season and wonder why there is such a short season on teal. First, let’s get one thing straight: teal are ducks; they’re the smallest duck species we hunt, and they are legal game during the regular duck seasons. It’s just that in their rush to get to the southern wintering grounds, most teal are long gone by then.
Because so many teal migrate through before traditional duck seasons open, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows a September teal season, based on the number of adult breeding teal observed on the northern nesting grounds. This year, teal season in the Low Plains Zone (anything east of U.S. Highway 283) is Sept. 8-23, and in the High Plains Zone (anything west of U.S. Highway 283) is Sept. 15-23. The daily bag limit is six teal.
There are two species of teal common in the Central Flyway, blue-winged and green-winged. Bluewings usually migrate earlier than greenwings, and in fact, reports indicate that bluewings are already arriving at Kansas wetlands. Most bluewings are gone by early October, although if the weather is mild, some may show up in hunters’ bags during the opening week of the Low Plains Early Duck Zone’s first segment (Oct. 13-Dec. 31, 2018).
All hunters participating in teal season who are required to have a hunting license must also possess a Kansas HIP permit, $2.50, and State Waterfowl Permit, $10.00. All hunters 16 and older must have a Federal Waterfowl Stamp, $25, which can be purchased at your local U.S. Post Office and any Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism regional office.
Veteran duck hunters love the early teal season because it’s their first chance to get back to the marsh after a long spring and summer of no duck hunting. Teal are fast, challenging quarry for wingshooters, and teal hunting requires hunters to be particularly focused on species identification. It’s common to have other duck species such as shovelers and wood ducks migrating through in September, and those species are not legal game during the early teal season. It may take some practice and experience for a new hunter to be confident in identifying teal, but that’s all part of the teal challenge. And when conditions are right, teal numbers can build quickly on Kansas wetlands, providing a fantastic waterfowl hunting experience.
For a complete list of waterfowl season dates and regulations, go to www.ksoutdoors.com.