Teal hunting doesn’t have to be gear-intensive. A few decoys, a spinning top, a gun and a bucket each were all we had to do on the long walk. We put our buckets in some tall grass and put the afternoon sun behind our backs. It wasn’t a skin that would cheat Big Ducks in the regular season, but Teal isn’t particularly detail-oriented. This is one of their many charms.
We sat down, repelling the occasional mosquito, studying the ducks that approached our spread, keeping away from mallards, pintails and wood ducks, waiting for the teal. “These look like teal,” Clint said as a flock of little ducks flying in a tight formation from wingtip to wingtip tilted to the lee of the decoys.
“We’ll find out in a second,” I said. “They arrive.”
On paper, teals aren’t fast ducks, hitting 30 miles an hour. In the real world, spinning above the decoys at 15 meters, they circle around Mach 2. Even though I had seen them approaching, all I had time to do was think, Pick one! I shot once, I was aware of a falling duck, although I was not at all sure it was the duck I had shot. I found a second teal that was going away and tried to throw steel at it. The hammer fell on a failed bait, and the herd was gone. The only bird floating dead in the water was the only sign they had ever been there.
“At least you have one,” Clint said. “I missed.”
” You did not understand ? ” I said. “I thought I missed it.”
The best way to double teal
At home, I watched the ShotKam video I put on the gun again. If you saw the clip you would think I knew what I was doing. The reticle starts in front of the duck I had chosen (I thought I was behind it the entire time) and matches its speed for a moment. As the teal folds back, the reticle slowly rises to the second bird which flares out and comes out of the decoys. It’s a dead duck that flies … until the bait does not ignite. That’s not how I remembered the footage at all – it was a blur – but the camera isn’t lying.
Bottom Line: Trust your hand-eye coordination to make corrections that you aren’t even aware you are making. Your only job is to watch the bird intently to give your eyes and hands the best information possible, then stay away and let them do the rest. This is true for all waterfowl shots, but it’s especially important for teals, which are fast, erratic, and startle you. Trying to aim at a target with a shotgun like a teal is a recipe to miss.
Teals are so small that if they look like they’re within range, not only are they within range, but they’re probably so close that they hardly need lead. You usually only need to look at the mouthpiece to place the shot where it needs to be. Additionally, teals fly so close to each other that it’s easy to kill more than one with one shot. For some people this is a bonus, but I prefer a duck per shot. If you do, too, pick a bird on the edge of an oncoming group, or at the back of a passing flock. The teal will usually ignite after the first hit, so if you’re looking to double down, pick a bird, shoot, then look up to find another.
Ammo tip: a sweet load for the teal
As I learned when that failed primer destroyed what would have been a duplicate, ammo reliability is important. This is reason enough to choose a case like Browning Wicked Wing that is made from quality components. For the teal, I would take the Wicked Wing 3 inch 12-gauge 4s. Teals are small ducks and a 1 ¼ ounce load of 4 hits has plenty of pattern density to put multiple hits on a small target. I would pull them through an IC starter for the teal season. And, while a growing number of hunters bring 20s to the Teal Blind, I remain a 12-gauge shooter for waterfowl, especially if the rifle is a soft-fire semi-automatic like the Maxus II that won’t beat me. , even though I am only wearing a t-shirt.