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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.
Breeding conditions in North and South Dakota, Minnesota and prairie Canada were favorable this spring, meaning there should be young birds in the migration this year. 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.
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.
“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. “Hunting success often depends on the weather and our extended forecast calls for cooler temperatures with scattered chances of rain.”
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.
New way to register for the Harvest Information Program (HIP)
All hunters who pursue migratory game birds are required to register for Harvest Information Program (HIP) either through the Go Outdoors Iowa app on their smartphone, through a link at www.iowadnr.gov/waterfowl or at www.gooutdoorsiowa.com. The DNR has detailed instructions on how to register for HIP online at www.iowadnr.gov/waterfowl.
Migratory game birds mean more than ducks and geese; in Iowa it includes mourning doves, ducks, geese, coots, doves, woodcock, rails, and snipe.
Once registered, hunters will need to write a confirmation number on their license, print an updated copy of their license with the confirmation or take a screenshot of their confirmation on their phone to show proof of registration. Requiring a confirmation number will allow the DNR to better track migratory bird hunters – a federal requirement.
“Hunters need to be sure not to skip HIP,” Jones said. “If you’re having trouble, call our customer service number and our staff can help to get you registered over the phone.”
The customer service number is 515-725-8200.