Early Teal Seasons to Continue in 2017 for Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa
By Paul Wait
The experimental September teal season hunters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa have enjoyed for the past three seasons will continue in 2017.
In 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorized a special September teal season in those three states, as well as Minnesota, dependent on whether waterfowl hunters could correctly identify and target only teal. The states were required to monitor hunters for compliance. Minnesota chose not to participate, but Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa duck hunters were afforded the opportunity to experience early-season teal hunts, much like states farther down the flyway have had for many years.
The experiment was supposed to last three years. However, because of changes in the timing of when USFWS sets duck seasons, the evaluation process won’t be complete in time to determine the long-term fate of September teal seasons for these states. As a result, the USFWS has authorized September teal seasons to continue in 2017, according to Barb Avers, waterfowl and wetlands specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
“The teal season is still considered experimental for 2017, and we anticipate knowing in June whether we will continue to have it in 2018 and beyond,” she said.
Michigan, which has offered seven-day teal seasons each year since 2014, is bumping it up to 10 days this fall, Avers said. The daily limit is six teal.
“The teal season has been quite well received by our hunters, and the comments and feedback have been positive,” she said. “Blue-winged teal migrate early, so expanding it to 10 days gives hunters two weekends and increases opportunity.”
Wisconsin, which has taken seven-day teal seasons throughout the experiment, will offer the same in 2017, according to Taylor Finger, assistant migratory game bird ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Teal hunting in the Badger State will open at 9 a.m. on Sept. 1, and then start at sunrise Sept. 2 to 7, with the shooting hours ending at 7 p.m. Hunters can take six teal daily.
Iowa’s teal season will also mirror the state’s previous offering. Hunters in the North and South zones will have nine days, Sept. 2 to 10, while Missouri River Zone hunters will have 16 days, Sept. 2 to 17. The daily bag limit is six teal.
The teal season has been popular in Iowa, said Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“We found participation was 50 to 60 percent of the state’s waterfowl hunters,” he said.
Iowa hunters were quite successful, shooting an estimated 45,000 bluewings in 2014 and 32,000 in 2015 during the early season, harvest totals that ranked second (behind Louisiana) in the Mississippi Flyway, Jones said.
“We’re looking at the additional year of the experimental season as an opportunity to learn what our hunters want,” he said, noting that Iowa is surveying its hunters to solicit that information.
Blue-winged teal, with a population estimate of 6.7 million in 2016, are the second-most abundant breeding duck in North America. The estimate puts bluewing numbers 34 percent above the long-term average. Green-winged teal, which are also legal to hunt during the September season, were estimated at 4.28 million in 2016, the highest breeding count on record.
With teal thriving, the Central Flyway duck production states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming were again rewarded with the option to add two bonus blue-winged teal to their daily bag limit for the first 16 days of the 2017 regular duck season. The bonus teal opportunity has been allowed by the USFWS each season since 2014.
For the life of me, I do not understand the 9:00 opening time on the first day of Real season. I do understand the sunrise opening time for the remaining 6 days but why 9:00 the first day, what is the reason???
All the early teal season does is drive all the ducks I would like to hunt during normal duck season off the ponds.
Then we don’t see crap till it gets cold enough up north to send the migrators down. This last season all we consistently saw were wood ducks. The years before the early teal season we would always have a good mixed bag. I would rather see a well regulated late season duck hunt to take advantage of the late season migrators and forget about early teal.
I agree all the early teal season does is drive big ducks off the water where people hunt with boats if you walk in hunt small potholes you do good on teal but everyone that boat hunts the same lake I do say they hate the teal season it is giving guys that hunt in boats the shaft
Hunting on the largest marsh in Wisconsin I have observed relatively light hunting pressure during teal season and the teal season had insignificant impact on our success in hunting the same areas for the regular duck opener. Water levels and food has played a bigger role in our success during the regular duck opener each year of the experimental teal season.
The late 9:00 opening time on the first day of teal season significantly reduces shooting opportunities and reduces harvest, I have experienced more shooting opportunities and bigger harvests each year on day 2, a benefit of the earlier start times, even though hunters were in the marsh and the birds had been hunted the same areas the day prior.
I think its fantastic that we now have an additional week (9-days) to hunt ducks… or at least get our boots wet while sweating & swatting mosquitos. Just the chance of shouldering the old smoothbore again on some teal after a long off-season – I think is a wonderful opportunity.
Find a copy of” Duck and Coot- ecology and management in Wisconsin tech bulletin # 33 ” Wisconsin
conservation department (it’s very old) this is the reference point for waterfowl field science discussions
in the state. It’s the last and best state survey completed and published. Page 66 peak populations of Blue Wing
Teal are reached Sept 15 on average at the time of the survey . It coincides with the Wild Rice drop and wild millet ripening (echinochloa crusgalli.) not hunt club millet. It’s programed into their little brains to fatten themselves during staging for migration. This bulletin also breaks down sex and age groupings of the flights for Wisconsin. The state has a large number of female birds and later hatched birds of the year then the Texas early flight.
I have read the views voiced by a group of experts that these birds are under weight subject to high mortality and can be considered disposable when figuring the national waterfowl numbers. So you might as well shoot them. Maybe . I think if we had a shallow lake waterfowl management plan in our state they would stay longer grow fatter and provide a better lasting hunting experience for everyone .
If that happens then we should scrap the early season and take the two bonus birds in the regular. We have a lot of other problems with hunting waterfowl in a production and staging state on shallow public waters( It’s a state wide season think about the date it opens). Hunters spend to much time thinking about more shooting dates and bigger bag limits and not enough about the quality of the wetland surface water management.
I hope the new state DNR waterfowl staff person will focus on wetland management with
their time and the waterfowl program revenue. The current endless survey world of hunter feelings and season splits does very little for duck production. The hunter numbers will continue to drop with longer seasons of lighter game bags for the trip home. It’s been stated in a lot of past surveys.
I love the early teal season!!!!!
I love that we have MORE opportunities to hunt. The naysayers are whining because their easy or “gimme” hunts aren’t as easy anymore…..
Whining like this is why we don’t have dove hunting in Michigan.
This experiment is killing the Gulf Coast Teal Season!!! I understand that numbers are high on the blue wings and we want everyone to enjoy this sport. If you ask anyone in Texas and Louisiana how the numbers of Teal has changed in the past three years they will all tell you the same story. I have never seen such low numbers in all my life and the birds are beyond educated by the time they get to us. The past three years have been the toughest teal seasons ever experienced. Now a days about all we have to look forward to is teal season because the patterns of ducks have changed . Our regular duck hunting season pretty much sucks for 90% of hunters that don’t have the means to manage property to have decent hunts. So for the love of God leave us something to look forward to during hunting season on the gulf coast ! Make Teal Season Great Again !!
sound like a big cry baby to me. it’s a 7 day hunt here in wisconsin and you’re trying to say that 7 to 9 day hunt in three states is dropping your southern teal numbers.
I like it here i hunt a larger lake its hit or miss being only a few days i have already seen big flocks of bwt and its cold here this week season starts next friday not expecting much after seeing some already…..it definitly effects regular opener but so does the youth hunt and so does a musky fisherman in november when hes in middle of the lake fishing and the divers are spooked and wont give anything a look….if you dont like it welllll unless you own a lake suck it up buttercup