Hunting Teal in Nebraska
By PJ Maguire
Ever since I heard of the early teal seasons held by states south of Minnesota and North Dakota, I have wanted to participate in one of these hunts. When I first started hunting with my friend J.D. from Omaha, he told me tales of hunting these little ducks in September. Finally, this fall my schedule was clear enough for me to make it down to Nebraska for the second weekend of their season.
Thursday afternoon raindrops bounced off the hood of my Chevy truck as we cruised west on Interstate 80 out of Omaha. JD was sitting shotgun, Chris was in the back seat, I was driving, and Stella was in the kennel in the back. The windshield wipers danced to and fro. I was pumped to have the opportunity to harvest a few ducks in September, before my home state of Minnesota’s waterfowl season opened.
When we arrived at the area we were going to hunt, the rain had died a little but there was still heavy cloud cover. The three of us checked out a few wetlands that J.D. has hunted since his youth. We were looking for bird numbers as well as water levels in these places. Every wetland with the right water level held birds.
It did not take much scouting for us to figure out a spot for a quick evening hunt. We sat and watched as we put together a basic game plan for the morning. Teal are small ducks and do not require a lot of equipment to hunt in September. That afternoon, we carried a decoy bag with 2 mallards and 18 teal decoys inside. Throw in a spinner and a handful of shells and we were good to go.
The evening flight wasn’t very strong that afternoon but we managed to shoot four Blue-wings. It was a good first duck hunt for my father’s year old black lab Stella. She got to make four retrieves and get accustomed to duck hunting in a controlled setting. I shot my first early season teal.
Grilled bacon wrapped teal was on the menu at our hotel room Friday night. That morning we had been provided with a much stronger flight of teal on the other side of the marsh. Three of us had harvested a limit and were back at the truck by 9:30 am. Seven Blue-wings and five Green-wings were the take. All had naps, including the puppy Stella.
Not surprisingly, Saturday morning we had company in another wetland, which was large enough for two groups. We heard shots from other hunters in the area as well and the birds were moving around. Another 12-bird limit was taken, nine Blue-wings and three Green-wings. We were back to the hotel a little earlier then the previous day, no thanks to poor shooting from yours truly.
Chris had to get back to Omaha for a wedding that afternoon. J.D. and I scouted and caught the Huskers football game that evening. Believe it or not I was the only person in the bar not wearing a red t-shirt. After the game, we celebrated the Big Red victory with another round of grilled duck.
The following morning we traded flocks of teal decoying into a shallow marsh as they fought a strong wind. Stella was steady and we shot a limit by seven thirty. Like the dog work, my shooting had improved since our first hunt. I harvested three teal with as many shots on the way to filling my daily bag.
I listened to the Vikings football game on the am radio as I drove home, and reflected on the hunt. It felt pretty good to have already harvested a few ducks in mid-September. I have always enjoyed hunting teal, and believe that I will continue to take advantage of the opportunities they provide in other states.