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Lake life

Give yourself a sporting chance

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 10.48.56 AMIt’s too late for you dove hunters who burned through two boxes of No. 8’s trying to get a mess of dove breasts last weekend. But if you are a teal hunter, you still have some time.

But not much.

Odds are that you probably have your blind ready, your shotgun cleaned and your retriever chasing rubber dummies, but don’t forget the most important part. What’s the use of going to all the trouble to take part in the statewide teal season Sept. 15-30 if you are going to leave opening morning shooting results up to last year’s shooting practice?

That’s why today, we turn over the remainder of this space to Hunter Simmons from Simmons’ Sporting Goods for a bit of insight into making your teal hunters special:

“Any shooting practice is good, but shooting a round of sporting clays is more beneficial than shooting plain skeet.

“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.”

— HUNTER SIMMONS

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