With cooler temperatures in the forecast and September teal and resident Canada goose season both opening Sept. 14, hunters accustomed to going afield for these early waterfowl hunting opportunities will be glad to know that daily harvest limits for teal have increased this year.
This year, hunters can take six teal per day – up from four in previous years. The special resident Canada goose daily limit remains at eight.
“While estimated teal populations this year are below the numbers of the last couple years, it was still the third highest count on record,” said Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Every year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes frameworks to states for structuring their waterfowl seasons.
After an analysis of teal populations and harvest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was open to allowing liberalizations of teal seasons this year.
“Analysis of the data showed that teal were able to sustain, at a minimum, twice the harvest pressure they currently have,” Richardson said. “Since nearly all the harvest of blue-winged teal occurs during the special September seasons, the obvious way to provide more opportunity was to liberalize the September teal season.”
Blue-winged and green-winged teal are the first ducks to travel through Oklahoma as they migrate southward on their traditional journey to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central and South America. They migrate quickly and don’t stay in Oklahoma a long time.
According to Richardson, the best teal strategy usually involves scouting areas and being ready to hunt them as soon as a cold front arrives or immediately after.
“The stronger the front, the more birds are likely to be moving through,” Richardson said.
Richardson notes that 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.
Resident Canada geese are those birds that live in Oklahoma year-round, providing a chance to hunt before migrant birds from the north begin arriving in large numbers.
Richardson said goose populations continue to remain high across Oklahoma, and production this past spring appeared to average to above average.
“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.
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
(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, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
The regular state duck seasons kick off Oct. 1 in the Panhandle counties, Oct. 26 in Zone 1 (includes most of northwest Oklahoma excluding the Panhandle) and Nov. 2 in Zone 2 (everywhere else by northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle). The regular season for Canada geese will open Nov. 2.
For more information about waterfowl hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
Logo courtesy Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation