LINCOLN – Nebraska’s teal hunting season in the northern part of the state remains on an experimental basis this year. Continuation of that part of the state’s teal season in future years depends on hunters’ ability to distinguish teal from other duck species.
During this experimental period, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is evaluating the rate at which nontarget species are shot at or taken in the northern part of the state. If the rate is considered unacceptable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska will lose its teal season in that part of the state, and most likely, never get it back. Those who take or attempt to take ducks other than teal could incur both state and federal fines.
Only blue- and green-winged and cinnamon teal are legal to take during the September teal season, which is Sept. 3 – 11 in the High Plains Zone and Sept. 3 – 18 in the Low Plains Zone.
Beginning in 2014, Game and Parks was granted an extension – under “experimental” status – to open the entire state for the September teal season.
“Take your time and identify your ducks before you take a shot,” said Game and Parks Waterfowl Program Manager Mark Vrtiska. “Take the extra second or two to let the birds get closer or swing the decoys one more time. Most times, on that extra swing, you get a clear picture of the distinguishing slate-blue wing patches on blue-wings or the iridescence green on green-wings.”
Vrtiska said teal typically come in low and in compact flights, compared to larger ducks, which come in slower and higher. “Watch for the occasional shoveler, which is slightly bigger and has a distinctive bill size and shape,” he said. “If you’re new to teal season, or not confident, hunt with a group of experienced individuals. More eyes are better.”
For more information on teal hunting in Nebraska, visit OutdoorNebraska.org or read the 2016 Waterfowl Guide, available online and wherever hunting permits are sold.