Last Saturday, first day of dove season, just as it gets light enough to see across the Delta, I spotted movement in the sky to the west. Three black dots were cruising above the corn, getting larger by the second.
Last week, federal waterfowl officials announced another banner year of blue-winged teal production, estimating over 8.5 million birds in the population, representing a slight increase over last year and 73 percent higher than the 50-year average.
With the early teal season, which opens Saturday in Mississippi, there is always the worry that the peak of the blue-wing migration will fall outside the 16-day window hunters have at the early flyers.
The fall’s first duck hunting opportunity for Mississippi will begin when the early teal season opens on Sept. 15. Blue-winged teal prefer shallowly-flooded wetlands with natural vegetation like wild millets and smartweed, which produce seeds and harbor invertebrates, but concentrations of birds may also be found on reservoirs, oxbow lakes, catfish ponds, farm ponds and other permanent waters. “We’ve already heard a few reports of the first birds arriving in mid-August, but we expect larger numbers to arrive in early September,” explained Houston Havens, MWDFP Waterfowl Program Biologist. “Breeding populations of blue-winged teal were again at an all-time high this year, so we hope to see good numbers during the early hunting season.”