Blue winged teal | Photo by Chase Fountain, TPWD
AUSTIN — This year’s early teal hunting season is expected to be one of the best seasons seen by Texas hunters in quite some time as conditions affecting the waterfowl’s migration and habitat are above average for this time of year.
“We’ve not seen conditions line up as well as they currently are in a long time,” said Kevin Kraai, Waterfowl Program Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “We predict that this should be a very successful teal season in Texas.”
The 16-day statewide early teal season in Texas will run Saturday, Sept. 12 through Sunday, Sept. 27. The daily bag limit on teal is six, with a possession limit of 18.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual May Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey was canceled. However, according to a completed North Dakota Game and Fish Breeding Waterfowl Survey, blue-winged teal numbers appear to be 55% higher than the previous year.
North Dakota serves as a popular breeding ground for blue-winged teal prior to their fall migration to southern states. Following two consecutive years of above average rainfall in the Eastern Dakotas, the survey data suggests that the birds were successful at reproduction and are likely approaching record numbers.
“We are just a few days removed from a big full moon, which triggers migration, and now have experienced record cold across much of the flyway from a cold front just days before the season opener,” Kraai said. “We are also expecting another full moon towards the end of teal season that should help with bringing in new birds.”
As for conditions and prospects for teal season around the state, TPWD waterfowl biologists report:
- The best hunting success for the coastal regions of Texas are typically during years when conditions are somewhat drier. These conditions keep teal closer to hunting blinds as they are unable to move too far on water. Currently, conditions along the Texas coast appear ideal – not too wet and not too dry. Recently harvested rice fields and fields that are idle are continuing to collect water and will likely be holding an abundance of teal this September. Coastal marshes will hold submerged vegetation and aquatic insects making them prime teal habitat.
- Large tracts of marshes in southwest Louisiana have been compromised due to Hurricane Laura’s storm surge and will not be as appealing to teal as in years past. That could potentially mean Texas will see a larger portion of the teal migration in September.
- Reservoirs in North and East Texas have experienced above average rainfall and reports of abundant teal in the upper ends of many creeks and the rivers.
- Even though areas of the Texas Panhandle broke all-time records in recent days with the coldest temperatures ever recorded for early September, unfortunately most of the playa wetlands on the High Plains remain dry and very few teal can be found at this point in the year.
Teal season dates, along with regulations, bag limits and more can be found in the all-digital Outdoor Annual. Hunters can also access digital copies of their licenses via the Outdoor Annual and My Texas Hunt Harvest apps.
Anyone hunting on Texas Public Hunting Lands are also required to purchase an Annual Public Hunting Permit. Texas has more than 1 million acres of land that is accessible to the public.
More information about these lands and locations can be found on the TPWD website. Hunters using public lands can complete their on-site registration via the My Texas Hunt Harvest app.