by Bret Amundson
Only 4 states along the mississippi flyway don’t have an early teal season, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. A season in which blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal are targeted before the regular waterfowl season takes place. The reason for this type of a season would be to increase the harvest of the blue-winged teal and do it before they head south for the winter, which is typically in August and September. It would also give hunters another opportunity to break out the waders and shotgun and take aim at the tiny targets that zip through the air.
But do hunters want it?
“I had one email tell me it was the best idea he’d ever heard and ten seconds later another email telling me it was the dumbest idea and I should be fired for it,” MN DNR waterfowl biologist Steve Cordts told me on this week’s MNSJ Radio show.
Mixed reaction is what I’ve heard from hunters across the state as well. Some hunters look forward to every waterfowling chance possible, while others argue that it could ruin the opening day hunt. The latter tend to argue similarly about the early Canada goose seasons and the Youth Waterfowl day.
“The longer that gap is, the less potential impact there is,” Cordts answered when I asked him about the impact an early teal season would have on the regular waterfowl opener. “The first or second weekend in September, roughly when our Youth Waterfowl Day takes place,” would be the target timeframe for an early teal season.
Would this mean the end of Youth Waterfowl Day?
“It could I suppose. It depends on how many weekends we have,” Cordts said. Explaining that there is only so much time in the month of September and it’s hard to work them all in. “Youth Day is very well supported by hunters. People that don’t like it is a very small minority, but they REALLY don’t like it. We still have to get some public input before we do anything.”
“One option would be a teal season where only teal, blue-wings, green-wings and cinnamon teal would be legal. A much more workable option that I’ve been pushing a little bit would be to allow a bag limit of one non-teal. It’d be up to 6 (ducks), one of which could be something other than teal.” Cordts explained. “A fairly short season, perhaps 5 days and that would help a lot with the (misidentification).
Duck identification is a concern among hunters who know that a fast flying duck in low-light conditions can be tough to see. Hunters are worried that the resident wood duck population could be targeted accidentally. This would allow one “mistake” duck. If you accidentally shot a wood duck or mallard, you now had a responsibility to only shoot teal, even if that means picking up and heading out because of the uncertainty of what you’re shooting. Because if you shot one more mistake duck, you’d be over your limit.
The possibility of an early teal season in Minnesota this year is a real one for the first time since 1965. But the DNR isn’t sure they’ll offer it even if they are given the opportunity. They risk possible backlash from some hunters, the wrong ducks being shot and more manpower in the field in early September. The benefits of another waterfowl opportunity for hunters, increasing the teal harvest and the additional income an early season license would bring, might be too much to pass up. We’ll find out in the next couple of months.
For more about the early teal season, listen to this week’s MNSJ Radio show. Here’s what we’ve got on the show:
We’ve got a new Farm Bill. What does that mean and should we be celebrating? We’ll talk to Dave Nomsen from Pheasants Forever to find out. Jeff Anderson from Big Tooth Tackleand Leisure Outdoor Adventures gives us a fishing report from the Walker area and Steve Cordts from the MN DNR is with us to talk about the possibility of an early teal season.
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