The temperature dropped just enough to push the teal south, making my first Louisiana teal hunt a successful one.
I was invited to hunt teal at Doug's Hunting Lodge in Guyden, Louisiana this year. Since I had never hunted teal I was very excited about the opportunity to bag a couple of these gorgeous blue-winged birds. I contacted friends to ask for any tips or recommendations they had. Some friends referred to the tiny teal as F-14's. They recommended lots of practice. I worked on my shooting skills, packed my gear and set out for my first trip to Louisiana and my first teal hunt.
I joined Becky Lou, of Becky Lou Outdoors and Renee Jakubik, of Smart Targets, LLC. We headed to the marshes of Louisiana for our hunt. The first stop was to pick up hunting licenses and the required federal duck stamp. Next, we met Becky Lou's friends, owners of L'Banca Albergo Hotel. They gave us a warm welcome and showed us the historic location. We had a restful light sleep but were up before the sun and headed to meet our guide at Doug's Hunting Lodge.
David Fontenot, our guide, has been duck hunting and guiding since he was nine years old. He leases a spot on the marsh where he has a box blind. The first morning the three of us ladies were able to hunt together there. In the dark we boarded his boat and motored out to the location in the marsh. As the sun rose we saw a spread of about thirty decoys, highlighted by a robo-mallard decoy.
Our guide indicated that teal are hunted in the morning because they are more active when the temperature is cool. The teal feed on nearby rice fields and then pitch off in the morning toward the marshes to rest. His blind is in a productive area of their flight pattern. Around mid-morning the birds would slow down. They find resting spots in th water and are not very active throughout the day.
We watched as the marsh came to life and shortly after sunrise Fontenot said "Here they come." We held our guns up in a ready position as he called them to us. Suddenly a sound came. "WHOOSH!" The three of us shot as we watched two fall and the remainder of the amazingly fast teal flew away.
It was such a rush to hear the speed behind those little birds. Of the things friends had mentioned to me prior to the hunt, "bring lots of ammo because they are such fast flying birds" rang clear. I remembered the friend who called them F-14's. Now I understood the concept of comparing them to jet-planes.
I shot a 12-gauge Beretta shotgun with 3" loads of 6 shot steel. It seemed to work well in knocking down a couple of birds. While we waited in the blind, we discussed which chokes work the best for teal. Our guide recommended an Improved Modified (IM) choke.
I was fortunate to have brought additional chokes and a choke tool in my gun bag. I quickly swapped chokes, inserting an IM into the barrel of my gun. It was amazing to see how much better it patterned my shot at the quick birds.
Our guide did not have a dog for this hunt. As we knocked them down, he would periodically take the boat out and retrieve our birds. An advantage to having a bird dog is that it will locate birds that happen to fall into the brush. A down fall is that there are alligators in the area and a dog may be at risk in the water. We were fortunate in that no birds fell into the brush. Our birds were retrieved by our guide with ease via the boat.
The weather was perfect and we had no need for rain coats or boots. We were able to walk from dry land to the dock and then from the dock to the boat. After our short boat ride, we stepped from it into the blind. All of this was done without stepping a foot into the water. Although I did wear boots, they were not necessary for this particular situation. However, I prefer to live by the idea of having it and not needing it rather than not having it and wishing I did.
My first teal hunt was a successful one. It was a joy to watch the birds as I swung, shot and they dropped to the water. It was an asset to have practiced prior to the hunt and also to have the appropriate equipment. I recommend contacting your guide or outfitter to see what gear is recommended for the area you will be hunting.
Recommended items for a teal hunt:
- Federal Duck Stamp and required hunting license
- Shotgun and ammunition
- Eye and ear protection
- Extra chokes and choke tool
- Waterproof/floatable gun case
- Rubber boots and/or waders
- Lanyard and calls
- A positive attitude and sense of adventure