Anyone that has pursued early-season teal has certainly had their share of misses at a flock of fast-flying aerial acrobatic teal. You fire off three rounds and can’t believe you missed all three times! I would like to lay out five helpful, yet disciplined tips to put into use to consistently kill more teal per box of shells.
1. Smooth is Fast. This is a saying we use all the time in tactical applications and is very true for wing shooting as well. Make a smooth and deliberate mount of your shotgun and move your barrel smoothly through the bird to its head and pull the trigger. Try not to play catch-up with the bird and stay behind with the hopes of snatching rapidly ahead and making a miracle shot. Keep it smooth and follow through and you will be shocked at how many more teal you will kill.
2. Stand um up. On many, many occasions, people let teal get waaay too close before they shoot. I like to try and shoot my first shot at 20-30 yards or so and teal will usually stand straight up like a skyscraper and present you much easier shots. If you wait to shoot when they are 10 yards or so, your pattern is very tight and not very forgiving. Have someone to shoot first and stand up the flock, then start picking them off one at a time.
3. Change your choke/load combination. Blue/Green wing teal are the smallest dabbling ducks in the country and require much less terminal velocity to bring them down than a mallard. This is a good time for 4s, 5s or 6s to reign supreme. If you shoot an aftermarket choke tube like a Patternmaster or JEBs, take out your full or modified and opt for a “decoy” or short range tube. Most of your shots will be less than 35 yards, and you will have a dense and gap-free pattern with a good wad stripping choke rather than a constriction style choke.
4. Keep your head down and focus. It is very easy to want to look at the whole show when 50 bluewings are twisting and dive-bombing the dekes at daylight. However, this will usually lead to three spent hulls and your retriever looking at you with disgust. Pick a single bird and kill him FIRST. Don’t worry about the others that are zig-zagging like they are possessed by a devil. When your cheek meets your stock, keep it there and maintain that focus and I guarantee you will kill more birds.
5. Keep other shells handy. Teal are notorious for flying the first 30-45 minutes of legal shooting time and then almost disappearing. As soon as you are done shooting, IMMEDIATELY reload. I have certainly been guilty of looking and seeing more birds approaching and raising up only to hear a “click” and realize I never reloaded my gun. Try and keep the shells in a wader pouch, bench or somewhere that is very easy and convenient to reach. I will often attempt to put shells in a loaded gun to make sure I am ready for the next bunch that falls into the blocks. Just as fast as the action can start it can certainly end, so be sitting on go with a reloaded weapon.
Try and apply these tips this year when teal season rolls around. I know some of this may seem like common sense and other parts may be new to you, but give them a shot and see if they don’t help you this teal season.