What is forecast to be the first significant cold front of the season couldn’t be better timed for Mississippi waterfowl hunters, who are looking at Saturday’s opening day of the teal season with increased optimism.

“That is exactly what we need,” said Ben Thomas of Greenville. “Blue-winged teal are the earliest migrators and any hint of the changing seasons will trigger their southern flight. They’d come south anyway out of instinct, but you put a front behind them and it simply intensifies the migration.

“Instead of a trickle of birds, which we’re already seeing, the front will bring in huge numbers of teal. This is great; just great.”

Mississippi’s 16-day September teal season begins 30 minutes before sunrise on Saturday (Sept. 12) and will end Sunday Sept. 27. The daily limit is six teal, with a possession limit of 18.

The front will not only bring teal, but much-needed rain and much-anticipated cooler temperatures. Weather forecasts have rain coming through on Thursday and Friday before the cooler weekend, with highs forecast for the low 80s both Saturday and Sunday with lows in the mid 50s.

“I guess the only people happier than teal hunters are college football players and fans,” Thomas said. “That’s more like fall weather than summer and I plan on making use of it. I will teal hunt both mornings on our converted catfish ponds and I will dove in the afternoon over our sunflowers.

“With any luck, we’ll have teal and andouille gumbo with grilled dove poppers to watch the Mississippi State-LSU game Saturday night (8:15 CDT) with leftovers for the Saints (3:05 CDT kickoff at Arizona) on Sunday.”

Thomas, a native of Alexandria, La., who moved to Mississippi over 20 years ago, said he began seeing teal in the Delta “about a week ago, with more coming every day it seems. We could hunt what we have now for two days, but I’m betting we have a load in here this weekend.”

Teal have been spotted at least as far south in Mississippi as Barnett Reservoir near Jackson and along the Mississippi River near Port Gibson.

“We had work day at deer camp last weekend in Claiborne County and we’ve got some sloughs off the river and Bayou Pierre, and we saw some buzzing the sloughs,” said Paul Reynolds of Jackson. “Then, on Labor Day, I joined some friends on a boat ride on the upper Pearl River area of Barnett and saw several groups of teal buzzing the backwaters.

“I got home and called a friend in the Delta and asked him if he had teal on his farm, and he said ‘yeah, and there’s a cold front coming.’ That’s where I’ll be Saturday morning.”