Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Duck With Baby Blue Wings




         Sometime in mid September Midwest states have a special two week teal season. Blue-winged teal are unusual ducks.  They come early; sometimes arriving in the Ozarks during the last week or so in August, and they continue to pass through well into September.  Truthfully, they are fairly easy to hunt because they decoy well to only a handful of decoys, and they are not nearly as wary as mallards.  On occasion, a small group of teal will sweep across the decoys and flare from a volley of shots, circle wide and come back for another pass.  I have stood against a tree stump on a mud flat and had them light only a matter of a few feet from me. 


     They aren't wary, but they make up for their lack of wariness with some speed.  Ornithologists say they don't fly much faster than other ducks, but I'd bet my chest waders they do. Lead one like you'd lead a mallard and you'll not even dust his tail-feathers.  A flock of teal is like a squadron of feathered jetfighters, there and gone almost before you can say 'here they come'.              

       Hunting them can amount to a lot of work, and they are tough to hit, but teal season is the forerunner to the duck season, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.... unless the fishing is really, really sensational in mid September!!  But then, you can do a little of both.  As I said last week, I think wood ducks should also be a part of this special season, and it ought to be set back a week or so perhaps.  Wood ducks aren’t much of a part of the waterfowl harvest in Missouri and Arkansas now.  Fifty years ago they stayed in the Ozarks until the first week or two of November.  Not now! They usually leave by the end of October or even a little earlier.  But in the special teal season, so many are killed by accident and left that could be taken home and eaten.  Waterfowlers today aren’t real good at duck identification and if only two wood ducks were allowed in the special teal season it would have absolutely no impact on their numbers.  It likely won’t happen.  Too many of the decision makers spend too much time in an office and too little time in the marshes and rivers.  Would you believe when I made my first duck hunts with my dad, it was illegal to shoot a wood duck.  Now they are reasonably healthy populations.  Hunting pressure on wood ducks is about 20 percent of the hunting pressure on mallards.  Teal also, are not heavily harvested, and are plentiful.  Both species are very very good to eat.  Just as good as a mallard.  And teal are twice as hard to hit.


         I wrote, a couple of weeks back, about receiving a letter from the Missouri Department of Conservation offering me ten free deer permits in order to check them for CWD.  Some readers thought I was joking about that. So I put the letter and forms on my website, so anyone can see them.  I have no idea how many hunters were offered this, but they will pay anyone who is part of this 75 dollars for each deer killed to pay for processing.  You can apply for those ten free permits if you own five acres or more in a zone where chronic wasting disease has been found.  I can’t tell you where those zones are but if you call Alicia Burke, wildlife specialist at 573 522 0141 or apply online at…….you can find out if you qualify!


         And I jokingly wrote that I was thinking about offering a couple or three of my free permits to some hunters for 20 dollars apiece.  I wouldn’t do that of course, but for those who own large acreages, it would not be illegal to do that.  There are no laws prohibiting a landowner from doing that.  I put that article on facebook and received a warning that I  was “encouraging criminal behavior”!  That is not criminal behavior; it is something no MDC laws prohibit.  You can rent a tree stand on your land for whatever someone will pay.  Facebook owes me an apology for suggesting I was encouraging criminal behavior.  I am sure I will hear from them soon. 


         By the way if you would like to try your hand at writing, send your stories to me before Sept 20 and we might use it in our fall magazine.  All articles must be typed. You can see my outdoor magazine, and my Ozark magazine and all my books on the computer at  Contact me by writing to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or emailing

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