Early seasons on doves, Canada geese and a few other species of early-migrating
birds are off and winging, and a shortened season on teal will open Saturday,
Sept. 7. (If you missed the dates on these early
seasons or regular seasons
earlier in this column, you will find them elsewhere on bayoubill.com.)
Although reports of success in the early-going for doves and geese have
been favorable, especially on private lands, things will have to change
between now and Saturday if teal hunters are to be greeted by big numbers
This, of course, could happen (as it has in some years of the past)
because the start of the migration of blue-winged teal is influenced by
cold weather in the northern states and southern Canada.
For many years Indiana's early teal season opened Sept. 1 or soon thereafter,
but Melody Miller, waterfowl biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife
(DFW) points out that the Sept. 7 opener this year is the latest ever in
Miller adds that the later opening date was brought about by the fact
that our early teal season was cut this year from 16 to nine days by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Adult blue-wings were down about 27 percent when the birds came north
last spring, Miller says, and green-wings (not a big factor in the early
hunting here) were down somewhat.
Miller says the blue-wing migration hits Indiana about Sept. 15, adding
that the delay of the opener was aimed at catching at least part of the
migration. In the meantime, the first weekly waterfowl survey of the year
was conducted on state-owned or operated properties last week. As usual,
the bulk of the ducks present were on northern properties.
Roughly 100 blue-wings were counted on northern properties and 110 were
found at Hovey Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in the southwestern corner
of the state. There were no green-wings to speak of anywhere.
It is interesting to note, however, that northern census areas were
hosting roughly 1,500 wood ducks (not fair game during the early seasons),
and there were roughly 500 on southern areas covered by weekly surveys.
With these figures before us, it would not seem beyond the realm of
probability that wood ducks will far outnumber teal in Hoosierland during
the nine days of hunting the little zippers. Since wood ducks, though plentiful,
will not be fair game until the real-and-true waterfowl seasons open in
October, teal hunters will be well advised to be extremely careful what
Bagging a woodie by mistake could make said mistake very costly. This
is a federal violation, and federal game agents and judges are said to
lunch on raw beef dredged liberally with black powder and percussion caps.
State judges hold the percussion caps.
To further illustrate the gravity of this situation, I recall a teal
hunt last year on one of my favorite ponds. Teal were present in good numbers
late in the afternoon, but each flight of blue-wings was accompanied by
greater numbers of woodies. I never fired a shot.
Incidentally, Miller has agreed to report findings of the weekly waterfowl
survey (taken on Wednesdays), so we will pass the figures along as soon
as we get them. The weekly surveys continue into January.
trips to the deep woods recently have indicated that the paw-paw crop may
be a little skimpy this year. Still some paw-paw "trees" are bearing fruit.
It may be that the drought has stifled growth of the fruit although
the "Indiana banana" still has
some time left to grow before ripening. Still, even small paw-paws will
offer good pulp.
Look for paw-paws in damp, deep-shaded areas of the squirrel woods.