Early Teal Season is one of my favorites Texas Duck Hunts. We are fortunate to usually have great weather, despite it being hurricane season. Even though Texas has experienced a significant drought, there is still water available for the ducks. The season for Early Teal in Texas is typically two weeks running from mid September through the end of September. Two full weeks also allows us three full weekends for a Texas duck hunt.
Texas Duck Hunt Transportation
Hunting Teal in the salt water marshes provides a unique opportunity that is quite different than pond hunting. First, it requires a boat ride and since teal prefer shallow water an air boat is almost always better than a prop boat. The only challenge with using an air boat on a Texas duck hunt is that they tend to be quite loud so you definitely need ear protection. Whether that actually applies to retrievers is still up for debate but it never hurts to have an extra pair – even if they are the pink ones that nobody else wants to wear.
Salt Water Texas Duck Hunt Setup
An ideal location for Texas duck hunt for early teal is a shallow sand bar. This also helps with setting up the blind as you’ll see in a minute. Scouting or windshield time is also important but it’s definitely easier to scout from an airboat than a pickup. This is the location, between two grass islands with salt ponds, that we chose for our hunt. Google Earth is an outstanding application for preliminary scouting and finding likely locations for your Texas duck hunt.
Texas Duck Hunt Blind
One of the nice things about hunting teal is that it doesn’t require a complicated hunting blind. Shallow water definitely helps keep your butt dry. Here, we set up on lawn chairs behind some palm fronds and it worked just fine. Another benefit is that you can easily and quickly adjust your location relative to the spread. Another benefit, especially in the Texas Gulf Coast, is that this approach avoids the problem of blind shy ducks. Blind shy ducks is a situation where the older ducks begin to recognize the lethality of those boxy structures and begin landing just out of range. With this blind on a Texas duck hunt, you won’t have that problem. That said, you do need to watch for rising tides or you might get a soggy seat.
Duck Hunting Visitors
Texas duck hunting always brings a few surprises. There are other critters out there sharing your love of the outdoors and it’s abundance. Specifically, in salt water marsh areas, alligators may come to visit. We had this six footer swim by early in the morning. I thought it was just a log at first but noticed that it was moving rather fast for a floating log and against the current as well. While we did have shotguns with us, #6 steel shot didn’t provide me a lot of comfort.
Weather Changes While Duck Hunting
Another challenge on a Texas duck hunt in the Texas coastal marshes is quick weather changes. The dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico meeting the Texas mainland can produce some quick storms and you need to be prepared. That said, if I had to die from a lightening strike while hunting ducks I guess that would be an acceptable way to go if it was my time.
Inside the Island Duck Hunt Location
Salt water ponds, surrounded by tall grass are ideal locations to set up for a Texas duck hunt. In this case, we noticed on the morning hunt that a good number of ducks were bypassing our spread between the little islands and taking refuge in the salt water ponds. So, we setup that evening inside the islands.
Texas Duck Hunt Guide
Brent Hopkins, from AceInTheHoleGuideService was our intrepid guide. I’ve never met a better guide for a Texas duck hunt. No matter how you measure the quality of your hunt – limits, fun, lodging, opportunities or good conversation, Brent delivers a 10+ in every category. He also really likes those pink earmuffs and looks good doing it. We used the same “redneck texas duck blind” but used milk crates and boards instead of lawn charis due to the deep mud on the island and so that Brent would have a place to sit and shoot with us – gotta let the guide have some fun too, right?
Live Decoys for a Duck Hunt
Another great location for a Texas duck hunt for early teal is the Texas rice prairies just West of Houston, Texas. Even with the drought, there is an abundance of water and shallow ponds as the second rice cutting is being drained. I enjoy hunting with decoys but absolutely love it when a small flock of coots joins the party – you just can’t beat live decoys.
Shallow Ponds for Early Teal
Teal prefer very shallow ponds rather than deeper ponds so that they can easily reach the tender grasses that grow in the water. Scouting water for your Texas duck hunt may require some windshield time but when you find this kind of location, you can almost be assured of a great duck hunt.
How to Measure the Quality of Your Duck Hunt
The quality of my hunts are seldom measured by bag limits. That said, it’s always nice to see a lot of ducks and bring a few home. The bag limit for a Texas duck hunt in early Teal Season is four birds and this picture is the result of more than one hunter – just wanted to be clear about that. Another interesting thing about early Teal is that most of them are males. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a female during early teal season. It is easy to mistake the males for females in early season since the ducks have not completed their feather growth and look sort of female. The key indicator is the large patch of blue on their wings and not their overall brownish color. Female teal will have a much smaller blue patch.
Summary of a Texas Duck Hunt for Early Teal
A Texas duck hunt is unique and challenging. Texas provides a wide variety of duck hunt opportunities and locations. The early season in September allow you to hunt in shorts and a tee shirt. The teal hatch and brood was excellent this year and we had several great Texas duck hunt through out the early Teal season.