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Iowa’s 16-day teal only hunting season begins statewide Sept. 1, offering hunters an opportunity to enjoy Iowa’s wetlands and shallow lakes during the mild late summer weather.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes the September teal season available when the teal population is above certain levels. It offers hunters 16 bonus hunting days and does not take any days away from the regular duck hunting seasons.
“The teal season is a good opportunity to introduce young or novice hunters to duck hunting because these birds will fly all day and decoy fairly well,” said Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Continental populations of blue-winged teal declined in 2023, but remain above the long-term average. However, wetland conditions in North and South Dakota were favorable for good duck production. Teal will be moving in to Iowa in mid to late August and bird numbers can improve overnight with the change in weather up north. The Iowa DNR posts updates to the waterfowl migration each Friday during the duck and goose season at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Migratory-Game-Birds/Waterfowl-Migration-Survey
Teal favor mudflats and shallow water and recent rains across North Iowa have improved wetland conditions in that region, but conditions vary statewide and Jones advised hunters to scout the areas before opening day. The Iowa DNR includes a wetland conditions report on its website at www.iowadnr.gov/hunting in the right sidebar.
“Get out, assess the water levels and vegetation. Check out the wetlands before you go, especially for the first hunt of the season,” he said. “There are places that have water and places that don’t and it’s not universal – they can be as close as within 15 or 20 miles of each other.”
Since this season is only open for teal, it is important that hunters properly identify their target to avoid shooting other species. “Hunters need to take that into account when planning their hunt,” Jones said. “Keep the sun at your back – it’s much more difficult to identify ducks when looking into the sun.”
Legal shooting hours begin at sunrise, which is different from the regular duck season. Hunters are required to have the state migratory game bird fee and federal duck stamp.