Louisiana’s first-ever Friday opening day for hunting teal is September 15. You’ll probably have the blind and decoys ready early. You’ll be working your retriever, cleaning your shotgun and stocking up on supplies. Everything will be ready. But what about you?
What’s the use of going to all the trouble to teal hunt if you are going to leave opening morning shooting results up to last year’s shooting practice? As they say, luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Teal aren’t exactly the easiest target to hit cold on opening morning. Although it seems like they fly at the speed of light, the average teal only flies about 30 miles per hour, but their flight pattern is like fly avoiding the swatter. And their size makes it seem like they are going faster than they look.
I wrote an article about Hunter Simmons that is featured in a two-part series in the August and September Louisiana Sportsman magazine on getting ready for teal season, then actually what to do when you go to give yourself the best shot at a limit of birds.
If you are a teal hunter, you’ve still got a couple of days to get out and do some practice.
Here’s a bit of the insight Hunter offers in the article for teal hunters:
“Any shooting practice is good, but shooting a round of sporting clays is more beneficial than shooting plain skeet, Hunter says.
“It just keeps you sharper. You move from station to station and the targets come out from various places at various heights and angles,” he says. “It requires you to pay more attention and not just assume where the target is coming from or where it is going. It is more like an actual hunting environment, too. And the more realistic your practice, the more it will help you when you are doing the real thing.”
Practice also helps you stay focused on avoiding the two biggest mistakes that people make teal hunting. Those mistakes usually show up rather quickly on opening morning in hunters who haven’t shot their guns since they put them up at the end of last duck season.
“Shooting behind teal is the main mistake that I see people make,” says Simmons. “People underestimate how fast they are and don’t stay out in front of the bird far enough. Sometimes they will also get out in front, but then not keep swinging the barrel forward. By doing that, you keep the pellets moving in the same direction as the birds. It makes a huge difference if you stop the barrel of your gun. That mistake is amplified when you are shooting teal because the target isn’t half the size of a big old mallards you’ll see later in the season.”
The second biggest mistake that he sees is because of the way that teal fly, usually in bunches of 20-30 birds, especially during the opening teal-only season. “The teal will come in there 20 or 30 in a bunch and if you jump up and just start shooting, you probably won’t hit anything,” he says. “You have to discipline yourself to pick out one bird and aim at it. Be specific about the teal that you shoot at. I usually try to pick out one near the front of the group and if I do shoot behind, maybe I’ll get lucky and hit one of the ones behind it.”