September is always a fun time of year, bringing anticipation of many things. The summer heat is starting to wane and the promise of cool nights and beautiful sunny days fill my thoughts. September brings the return of football. As a Nebraska Cornhusker fan this anticipation isn't quite as fun as it used to be, but there's always next year. And September brings the return of waterfowling with teal season.
Every year late in August or early in September I dig out all the duck hunting stuff from my shed that I had packed up and put away last December and January. I enjoy getting out the decoys and shotguns, waders and blind bags, camouflage clothing and half empty boxes of shotgun shells.
Every year is a little bit the same but also a little bit different. My son is older now and takes a bigger role in everything. I make him do all the boat driving now. I just ride in the front and shine the spot light around.
Last year in Nebraska was very dry, as it was in many places in the Midwest. We also had a very dry winter. Spring was somewhat normal but it got real dry again after July 4th. We also had odd weather last fall. An early cold snap in October pushed a lot of birds out, but it warmed back up and stayed warm into late November. A lot of birds didn't move until much later in the year, and those that did move skipped over us because we were so dry.
Last year was not a great duck hunting year in Southeast Nebraska. But a new year brings anticipation and hope for better times.
I read the duck population survey results like everyone else. Overall down 12% from 2019. Only two species up from then, blue wings and red heads. But remember, 2018 and 2019 were good years with decent water. I would guess if they had done the survey in 2021 it would have been down a lot more and we are likely seeing some rebound in 2022. If we had normal reporting through those years we might be celebrating 2022 as a growth year from 2021 rather than feeling bad about a decline from 2019. We will never know if my notion is right, but like most duck hunters, I'm an optimist.
So what about teal season so far? We are off to a great start here in Nebraska. It is still dry but the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has pumped some WPAs and they are attracting ducks. Our crew has collectively been out four times and shot a limit two of those times and did well the other two. And lots of blue wings, more than we normally see. That seems to confirm the survey numbers.
There is enough water around that we are seeing and killing birds and the dog is retrieving well. She's three this year and really starting to learn to use her nose when birds are down in tall grass. this time of year you have days that start out good and become blue jay and everything slows down. The boy and the dog lay down and enjoy the warm sun and as the dad I enjoy watching them. I'm pretty happy with how things are going so far this year. And like most duck hunters I'm optimistic for the rest of the season.