2017 Teal Season Forecast: What Local Louisiana Experts Are Predicting

As we gear up for this year’s teal season, we called three Louisiana sportsmen from different parts of the state.

[Photo courtesy of Avery Outdoors]

The night before Louisiana teal season opens leaves many hunters tossing and turning like kids on Christmas Eve. While it may not reach the epic proportions of opening day of “big duck” season, it’s the first chance to toss out decoys and load the gun, and when things come together right, you can experience the most exciting ten minutes in waterfowling.

 Louisiana’s teal season opens on Friday, September 15, and it sounds like most hunters are fired up about the later opening this year. Some years there simply haven’t been enough cold fronts for a major push of teal in the delta, but it always seems they are around a few days after the season closes.
As we gear up for this year’s teal season, we called three Louisiana sportsmen from different parts of the state. They updated us on habitat in their areas and provided their top tips to increase success.

Southeast Louisiana with Ryan Lambert

Ryan Lambert owns Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, but don’t let the business name fool you; he sees more teal shot in the average season than most hunters will in ten years. Lambert expects his hunters to kill about 800 teal each year, and that kind of success doesn’t come around by accident.
Forecast and Habitat:
“Our vegetation down here is off the charts right now,” piped Lambert. “We have a great table set for the teal, and now it’s all about cold fronts. Conditions are as perfect as we could ask for. In fact, much of the marsh is so high and thick, you’d better break out all your Mojos; teal, doves, whatever, just make sure you have as much movement as possible so they can see you. The best food is close to the river, so I suggest focusing there.”

  1. Get out and watch before the season. Hunters should scout the days leading up to opener, but it’s important to get out whenever a front could push new birds in. Pay particular attention to their patterns as they fly the marsh. Even later arrivals will tend to fly those same patterns, and most folk’s success would improve significantly if they’d pay attention and set up accordingly.
  2. Teal often decoy in huge flocks, and a lot of people will try to shoot them all at the same time. Take a second, pick out a male and focus on shooting him.
  3. Those big flocks also tend to get VERY close. People worry they’re going to tear the bird up. Subconsciously they pull off a little bit, and this causes a clean miss. Focus on the head and beak. Think small, and you’ll kill that close bird without ruining him for the table.

[Photo courtesy of Avery Outdoors]

Northwest Louisiana with Rod Haydel

If you’re a hunter you’ve heard of Haydel’s Game Calls, and if you’re a duck hunter you probably own one (or several) of their calls. Rod Haydel grew up in the duck hunting business, and teal season is primetime for him. He doesn’t really guide for teal, but he has to produce birds for writers, video crews and business associates, and he sometimes gets a day to just hunt for fun.
Forecast and Habitat:
“I’m excited. I always am with teal season coming up, but I really think this later opener is going to be great,” Haydel said. “I got wound up in late July when I spotted a few birds right after a cold front came through. Habitat here appears to be on schedule. We’re different from southeast Louisiana in that rice fields are key. Marsh spots can have good days after the birds have been shot in the fields a few times, but they’re going to rice first.”

  1. Scouting is key. Get ahead of the game by being out whenever a front passes through so you know where birds hit first. Then you should be out every morning possible the week before opening day to zero in on your spot.
  2. When calling teal, timing is everything. September usually means blue-wings, and they will really work a hen teal call. Once you get their attention, they’ll often make a real fast pass over the decoys, and that’s where the timing comes in. Let them pass, but hit them with the call when they’re still within a hundred yards. They’ll usually hit the brakes, turn and come in for company. We have a new teal call out called the T-2. On one end it’s a blue-wing hen and the other makes the peep of a green-wing drake, and that could come in handy since green-wings might show up anytime.
  3. Mojos, Mojos and more Mojos. Attracting their attention is paramount. Back the Mojos up with a dozen teal decoys, and you’re all set.

Southwestern Louisiana with Warren Coco

Warren Coco of Go-Devil Manufacturing needs no introduction to Louisiana duck hunters. He’s the father of the mud-motor, and he’s also an excellent duck hunter. He’s been hunting in Louisiana for over 50 years, and if there’s an area worth trying, he’s probably hunted there. These days he spends much of the season at his camp near Hackberry, so we caught up with him for some intel on the southwest area of the state.
Forecast and Habitat:
“Our marshes are in good shape, and the habitat is as good as you could expect,” Coco reported. “I started seeing a few teal earlier than usual this year, but it will all depend on fronts. I really like the new opening; moving later should help everyone.” Despite hunting different areas, Coco also echoed something Rod Haydel mentioned, “For numbers of teal here, you need to be in rice. We usually have a good hunt or two in my marsh, but rice is just better.”

  1. Find a private spot now. There are rice fields teal will use that aren’t leased for big ducks because big ducks don’t use them. Seek out those spots.
  2. If you’re going to hunt a Wildlife Management Area, scout hard the five days before the season.
  3. If you are hunting with a dog like I am, watch for gators. A small one may not kill your dog, but it cause crippling damage. I also avoid hunting a dog in deep water for that reason.