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MADISON – Wisconsin’s first ever early teal hunting season came to a close Sunday, Sept. 7. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources field staff are encouraged that the season was successful based on preliminary observations of cautious hunting and well-educated waterfowl hunters.
“On opening day I was able to talk with some very excited hunters that enjoyed the new hunting opportunity and appreciated the department’s efforts to provide the season,” said Kent Van Horn, DNR waterfowl biologist. “I spoke with several groups in the parking lot after the hunt, and all had harvested teal or Canada geese. The dogs were muddy, but the hunters were happy.”
In 2014, Wisconsin offered its first-ever early teal-only duck hunting season from Sept. 1-7, with a daily bag limit of six teal. Shooting hours for opening day were 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and sunrise to 7 p.m. for the remainder of the season. Hunters were not required to purchase any additional licenses or permits, other than those required for hunting ducks in the regular waterfowl season.
In preparation for the early teal season, DNR staff presented information in public meetings, advisory committee meetings and special breakout sessions at the waterfowl hunter’s conference and gathered feedback with a waterfowl hunter survey over the last two years. The department collected public comment regarding the opportunity to offer teal season changes through June 5, 2014.
The department was required to monitor and report hunter performance throughout the experimental three-year period, and preliminary results show that about 80 percent of hunters showed good judgment and restraint and did not shoot at non-teal ducks that flew within range. Roughly 10 percent of hunters appeared to be trying to follow the regulations but have made mistakes in duck identification, while about 10 percent demonstrated carelessness or disregard for the regulations.
“Regardless of season-type, some hunters make the personal decision to not comply with regulations,” said Todd Schaller, DNR Chief Warden. “However, a majority of hunters understand the importance of biological and safety regulations and were safe and conscious teal hunters in the early season.”
Hunters were offered a number of tools (including a duck identification tool and waterfowl identification guide to help prepare for the early teal season. More than 3,500 people participated in our teal identification quiz prior to the Sept. 1 early teal season opener.
Duck hunting in Wisconsin is now closed until the Sept. 20-21 youth waterfowl hunt – this will provide ducks with a resting period.
The department would like to thank waterfowl hunters and all those involved in the planning stages leading up to Wisconsin’s first early teal hunting season. Feedback and support from stakeholders throughout Wisconsin is key in providing new opportunities for hunters.
It is important to remember that this was the first of a three-year experimental early teal season in Wisconsin. The department will continue to monitor, learn and improve over the next two years before deciding what the future holds for early teal hunting opportunities.