Waterfowl hunters have a new season this year. Whether it continues will depend on how well they can identify fast moving teal, over a shallow wetland.
To outline the new "early teal" season, the DNR has scheduled six free information sessions around the state beginning August 27 at 7 p.m., at the F.W. Kent Park conservation education center, west of Tiffin On Highway 6; followed by Spencer, August 28, 7 p.m., Spencer High School ICN room, 800 East 3rd Street; Burlington, August 28, 7 p.m., Starr’s Cave Nature Center, 11627 Starr’s Cave Road; Peosta, August 28, 6:30 p.m., Swiss Valley Nature Center, 13606 Swiss Valley Road; and Waverly, September 4, 6:30 p.m., Waverly Public Library, 1500 W Bremer Avenue.
That September 6-21 season across Iowa provides hunters with earlier dates to pursue the early migrants.
“Blue-winged teal are an early migrating species and the peak of the migration occurs before our regular season opens,” explains DNR waterfowl technician Al Hancock. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing production states — and Iowa is one of them — the opportunity to participate in an early teal season.”
The three-year experiment hinges on hunter ability to identify the erratic, fast moving waterfowl. Only teal will be legal during the 16-day September season. During the special season, observation points will be active. Wildlife officials will assess shots taken at nontarget species. Hancock emphasizes that if too many non-teal are targeted, the federal agency will eliminate the season.
Nearly 5,000 licensed Iowa waterfowl hunters were surveyed last winter; with 69 percent replying that they would hunt an early teal season.
The information session will include video of September teal, showing how to identify blue-winged and green-winged teal. It will offer suggestions for finding teal hot spots. Also at the session will be tips on decoy spreads, choke patterns and shot loads.