News of the Week

Sept. 8, 2015
Waterfowlers Preparing for Early Teal, Goose Seasons
    Waterfowlers won't be waiting much longer before they can get out into the marsh or field to do some hunting in Oklahoma. Sept. 12 will be opening day for two early waterfowl seasons in Oklahoma. The September teal season will run through Sept. 27, and the special resident Canada goose season will run through Sept. 21.
    Blue-winged and green-winged teal are the first ducks to travel through Oklahoma as they migrate southward on their annual journey to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central and South America. They migrate quickly and generally don't remain in Oklahoma for long.
    Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said the best teal strategy usually involves scouting areas right before you plan to hunt, and being ready to hunt those areas with birds as soon as a cold front arrives or immediately after.
    "If there's a front moving through, you definitely want to think about getting the day off work to go out hunting," Richardson said. "The stronger the front, the more birds are likely to be moving through," Richardson said. 
    Richardson said there is significantly more water available to waterfowl in Oklahoma this year than last year when, despite near record numbers of waterfowl, hunters often had challenges getting to areas with enough water for a successful hunt. Now, most of the state's ponds and reservoirs have normal water levels, which has created good habitat conditions for teal.
    Teal are small, fast fliers and usually are seen in flocks of six to 15 birds. They have an erratic flight pattern, challenging even the best of wing-shooters. Hunters are reminded that only teal are in season, and bird identification is important. Hunters may see other ducks while teal hunting, such as resident mallards or wood ducks, along with some other early migrants.
    Resident Canada geese are those birds that live in Oklahoma year-round, providing a chance to hunt before migrant birds begin arriving from the north. Richardson said goose reproduction this past spring appeared to be curtailed some by spring flooding, but populations remain healthy across the state.
    "Geese follow a pretty regular pattern this time of year, so finding fields that they feed in that are open to hunting should provide good action," he said. "Most often these birds spend their days within city limits, so gaining access to a roosting pond to hunt them as they return to loaf through the day is pretty difficult, but if you are fortunate to have such a location, that should provide some good shooting as well. 
    Teal hunters are allowed a daily bag limit of six birds. Hunters taking resident Canada geese are allowed a daily bag limit of eight birds.
    All waterfowl hunting is restricted to federally approved nontoxic shot in all areas of the state, and hunters must have a valid federal duck stamp and Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit, as well as a state waterfowl hunting license, unless exempt. Possession of lead shot while hunting waterfowl is prohibited. 
    For more information and complete regulations for the September teal and special resident Canada goose hunting seasons, see the current "Oklahoma Hunting" guide, available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold.