Teal Hunting Strategies Every Hunter Should Know

Two Green Winged Teal harvested during teal season

The anticipation of teal season is on every waterfowler’s mind as the summer sun is beating down on them. The first cool morning is not far off and duck blind coffee has never sounded better. You start watching the weather and looking for potholes that may hold teal for the short time they are in your area. Although difficult to chase at times, teal offer some of the best shooting of the season. The strategies below will ensure you and your hunting buddies less frustration and more teal harvested this upcoming season. Get out there and don’t miss your chance.


Scouting teal before heading out significantly increases your odds of success. Getting an idea for the area and where the birds are allows you to prepare accordingly for the next morning or afternoon. September can be a hot and dry month, therefore, scouting also gives you an idea for what the water levels in the area are and where ducks may be in the future.


Gun and shot selection

Shooting teal can be difficult because they are a relatively small target and fly faster than most ducks. Most hunters use a small bore shotgun, like a 20 gauge, when hunting them to reduce excessive damage to the bird. Also, using a smaller shot size (4,5,6) helps hunters when trying to lead and hit the fast flying ducks.

Stoeger side by side 20 gauge shotgun used for teal hunting
20 gauge SxS shotgun – my personal teal hunting favorite

Early morning and late afternoon

Depending on where you hunt, the days are still long and the afternoons are still hot enough to get a sunburn during teal season. Since the summer heat is typically still around, the birds move early in the morning and just before sunset. If you only have half an hour to hunt, that is perfect. Just be sure to spend it at sunrise or sunset.

Sign up to have migration updates and duck hunting articles delivered directly to your inbox

They're circling now…
Take 'em! Success

Hunting the front

A front that brings teal in during September is different than a December front that brings mallards and honkers. Teal will migrate south with the first north wind or full moon in September. If you anticipate a slight wind or cooler temperatures in the forecast, be sure to be in the swamp that day. It may be your only chance at the fast flyers.


Calling at teal

You do not have to bring a duck call along to have a successful teal hunt. As a matter of fact, they are typically unresponsive to traditional duck calls. That said, learning to blow a teal whistle has proven successful when trying to get one last pass from the group. Listen to what John Godwin says about teal calling in the video below.

Identifying teal

Just because it is teal season does not mean there are no other species of waterfowl around. Wood ducks, shovelers, and pintails can be early migrants across flyways in addition to blue and green winged teal. Before you pull the trigger, be sure you are shooting a the proper species. You do not want your dog bringing back a duck that isn’t in season.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is a great resource for learning to identify ducks flying in the air.

Decoy selection

Hen decoys imitate what teal in September look like. Since they have not developed their colorful plumage at this time of year, most of them look like female birds. Another useful tactic is to use shoveler or pintail decoys, since they oftentimes migrate early with the teal. Spinning wing decoys, jerk strings, and other motion decoys also work well.

A decoy spread used for teal hunting
One of our teal hunting decoy spreads – made up of spinning wing and teal decoys

Proper concealment

On most occasions, teal do not circle your decoys as many times as other ducks. Instead, they seem to make up their minds and swoop in and out, sometimes before you even realize what happened. As a result, your degree of concealment and camouflage does not need to be as extreme as hunting late season mallards. I have found that wearing proper camouflage and using sparse natural vegetation is enough to hide you from a teal’s eye.


Eating teal

Teal are some of the most tasteful birds when cooked properly. If you can harvest one without doing too much damage, they are worth breasting out and eating. See the video below for specific details.

Find the Ducks!

Sign up to have migration updates and duck hunting articles delivered directly to your inbox

They're circling now…
Take 'em! Success