Bluewinged teal are headed toward Lake Livingston. By late August, early migrating Bluewinged Teal will be dropping their landing gear and cupping their wings over Lake Livingston. Bluewinged Teal are all ready beginning their long migration South. Mature drakes are the first to leave breeding grounds in Saskatchewan in late Summer, followed by adult hens and juveniles. Bluewinged Teal migrate earlier, fly faster and farther then any other duck species. Blue wings will stop to rest and feed on Lake Livingston in September in route to their wintering areas in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The past several years have been a time of plenty for Blue wing Teal hunters on Lake Livingston. Hunters straps have been heavy here in recent years and indications are this will be another great year for the special September early Teal season. Over 6 million Teal are predicted to migrate South this year and Lake Livingston is in great shape now to attract and hold Teal. Lake Livingston has remained in good shape throughout the Summer and recent rains this year have Lake Livingstons shorelines lush with duck attracting vegetation.

Look for Teal to invade The Jungle, Robbs Lake, Little Robbs and White Rock Creek by September 1st. Family groups of Teal will buzz the shoreline looking for a place to rest and feed.

Techniques for Teal hunting are similar to regular season duck hunting, but a few adjustments could bring added success. Foremost is concealment. Build a natural brush blind and you are on your way to fast action on opening day. While Teal are not as wary as late season Mallards or Pintails, they have excellent eye site and will flare off from unnatural movement or shinning faces. Secondly, early season ducks are mostly dark in color. Therefore, I leave colorful Mallard drake and Pintail drake decoys at home, using only the darker hens. This will give your spread a more natural look. I use 3 dozen decoys or more, mixing in Teal decoys with regular size blocks. Leave an opening in your spread right in front of your blind with a couple of the little Teal decoys in the middle for teasers. The Teal should set down right in front of you.

Blue wings make a sort of a short raspy quack. There are several types of Blue wing calls on the market now and they can be very effective. A few short burst of raspy quacks when birds are bumping your spread should convince them to pull on in. I combine the short raspy quacks of the Blue wing Teal with a peep peep whistle sound of the Green wing Teal. Be patient and bring the birds in close for select shots and clean kills.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) proposed hunting rules for all migratory game birds at the Commission meeting on April 3-4, 2002. Executive Director, Robert Cook signed an executive order June 27, 2002 making some of them effective. These rules were adopted in late June 2002, but will not be final until the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sets final federal framework in late July. USFWS only approved a 9-day teal season to open the second Saturday in September. Note that this year, September 1 falls on a Sunday. Statewide hunting dates for Teal (blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon) are 9 consecutive days beginning on the second Saturday in September (September 14 -22, 2002). Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Bag and possession limit are 4 and 8 in the aggregate, respectively.

I expect that the early Teal season on Lake Livingston this year will be another great one. The Lake is in great shape, Teal numbers are up and Lake Livingston duck hunters will soon have a chance at bagging a Blue wing Teal. Brush up your blinds, camo your faces and prepare for fast fun action on Lake Livingston in September!!

Dave Cox of Palmetto Guide Service is a regular contributor to the Lake Livingston edition of the Texas Sportsguide.  This article has previously appeared in that publication.


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