Teal have always been a contributor to my duck harvest. However, until the last three years, they have been a minor contributor. Things changed when I decided to join the Kerry Duck Club, located near Volta in the North Grasslands.
Teal are about 90 percent of the take at KDC. You can try as hard as you like, but you’ll never shoot a limit of ducks at KDC that doesn’t have a majority of green-wing teal. They are dominant.
Because of the order of the draw, I didn’t have a chance to start out with one of the better blinds so I decided to hang around until the first wave of hunters was done and then fill in. It was probably ten and eleven o’clock before I made it to the blind and I was by myself.
I chose the same blind that I hunted last Saturday and my reasoning was that I might have a chance to shoot a goose (hopefully a white-front) as the geese have been present.
As I should have expected, The birds that were present were mostly green-wings. For almost an hour I watched them as they flew by, dive bombed my decoys and sometimes even landed in them. I waited and watched without shooting.
As long as I didn’t intend to shoot them, they looked like easy meat. Then, I finally decided to shoot teal as there didn’t seem to be any other options. On the first shot, the drake I was trying to shoot bobbed just as I pulled the trigger and I missed him, but surprisingly I hit the hen teal that was with him.
I was one for one – sort of.
The next teal came in about regular speed and he should have been a dead duck. Bang. bang – he flew off. At least I was still one duck for three shots – sort of.
And so it went. I wanted to hit them all and prove to myself that I could hit teal. After sixteen shots I had six teal. I was feeling OK about myself. Then the lull struck. The teal either wouldn’t fly at all, or they flew around the blind just out of range.
Every hunter on the club had killed seven ducks in the morning. I couldn’t quit until I had seven – I’d be shamed.
Every time I reached for a sip of water or a bite to eat, two teal would buzz by before I could get a shot off. Then two teal flew directly into me and I wiffed on two shots. I felt weary. I couldn’t leave.
Then came the shell count. Two in my gun, two in the box and four more in my pocket. Certainly I would get the last teal before they were gone.
I drake green-wing flew by along the edge of the decoys. I could hit him. Boom, miss – boom, miss.
Now six shells were left. The pattern repeated. Confidently I pulled up on the next bird. Boom – no joy.
More time passed and once again I wished that I could just quit with six teal and be happy. If I did, I’d never live it down.
A teal came in low on the water, I swung on it and missed. Then it turned skyward, presenting a unmissable shot. I held slightly in front of the bird’s beak and fired.
Down he went. I sent Lola and watched her retrieve the bird.
I would not be the hunter responsible for lowering the KDC average for the day to below seven. That’s right, everybody got a limit of ducks. Without counting, I’d guess that to be about 25 hunters. When I reached camp I marked ’em down in the book. Rich Fletcher, blind BB – 7 green-wing teal.