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WOOD DUCK/TEAL SEASON 2015
Homra Guide Service
Folks refer to it as the “early duck season” around most parts of
Tennessee. When you rise and shine in the wee hours of the morning any
duck season is the early season however!
Waterfowlers are always anxious this time of year when summer begins to
lose its grip and a little north wind signals autumn’s arrival is
knocking at the door. Such is the mood of duck hunters as the season
transitions toward fall and the opportunity to hit the marsh, swamps,
mudflats and backwaters is here.
Fowler Guide Service
Volunteer State duck hunters get a chance to kick start the winter
season when the early wood duck and teal seasons arrive each year and it
begins with a bang. Time to test the chest waders and hip boots for
This year Tennesseans will again have a 5-day wood duck and teal combo
season, followed by four more days tagged on the end that are teal only
times. Dates for this year’s segments are September 12-16 for the combo
with the teal only portion taking in another weekend and running up
through September 20.
Daily bag limits will again allow six ducks of which not more than two
can be woodies.
Timed to coincide with the annual migration of blue-wing teal that blow
through the area, the season is a hit and miss at times as teal are
known for their “here-today-gone-tomorrow” reputations. Adding the wood
duck to the season gives waterfowlers more opportunities.
Parker Guide Service
Tennessee is one of only three states in the Mississippi flyway that get
the early wood duck added to the bag. Both Kentucky and Florida also
have the combo season. However, the other flyway member states get
another week added to their teal only seasons, giving them a wider
window of opportunity to catch the blue-wing migration that can come and
go on short notice.
According to the 2015 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report
released earlier this summer by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
blue-wing teal numbers are good and similar to last year’s fall flight.
And, the species is 73 percent above the long-term average so the little
darters are doing just fine.
Once early cool snaps hit the breeding grounds of Canada and the Dakotas
blue-wing flocks waste no time in packing their bags and heading south.
West Tennessee’s abundance of sloughs, swamps, watershed lakes and big
water such as Reelfoot Lake and Kentucky Lake’s where unlimited shallow
mudflats with shallow vegetation offer havens.
Cameron and Hanna Homra
Homra Guide Service
Short stopovers for migrating teal happen in mid-September but weather
patterns can really play a role. Overnight changes with north winds
trigger the movement, which is why hunters should be out there before
the sun comes up should good weather present itself.
Small decoy spreads will do the trick on most outings. A couple dozen
teal decoys or even half woodies and half teal spread works fine. Most
of the time teal or roaming woodies will respond well and motion decoys
or spinning wings seem to help too, especially in the wee hours before a
bright sun takes over.
Calling techniques can help too if you master the unique shrill cry of
the woodies or that unique chirp sound of pacified teal feeding among
shallow moss and other aquatic vegetation. Most hunters, however, let
their decoys do the work for them.
In the early season you can hunt just fine from boat blinds or other
temporary setups. Pulling up a few bushes and wading shallow water or
cutting cane to forge a small blind to break the outline works fine.
Staying still and a little face paint or camouflage face mask will aid
Some use the early season as a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming
winter season, hoping to polish up the retriever pup, get the kinks
worked out of the stubborn starting motors or perhaps introduce a
youngster to his or her first duck hunt.
There are many attributes to the early duck season and odds are even the
novice and veteran hunters alike will have a little rust to shake loose
since seasons ended back in January.
Darting woodies among the branches and the “swish” sound of rapidly
descending teal that just did a fly-by on you in the limelight will test
your skill, patience and judgement when calling the shot.
Wood ducks and teal will humble you. They’re fast, small and smart!
Here’s hoping the early season helps set the stage for many great
mornings to come in the great outdoors.
By Steve McCadams