In what has become a highly anticipated yearly ritual, wingshooters from all over Texas will make there way to the fields and marshes as the 2012-2013 waterfowl hunting season officially gets underway. The teal season opener has become a real gathering of sorts, almost a social get together if you will. Hunters eagerly awaiting each new hunting season head to the fields for their first taste of what is in store and this one looks promising thanks to some recent rains. Both fields and marshes are abundant with life and fresh growth, a plus for some and a curse for others.

The early teal duck season is a great September option for waterfowlers who want to get a jump on the season. The 16 day season opens statewide on Saturday and runs through Sept. 30. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset and the bag limit is four teal, any species.

Heavy rains in recent weeks have made the marshes flush with new vegetation and fresh water, both of which should really help the hunters as well as the birds. With the promise of the years first cool fronts coming in September it is understandable that the hunters have high hopes.

So far nature and the weatherman have cooperated, at least up until this point. Now all we need is some cooperation from the birds and no crazy weather that would cause catastrophic changes in the outlook. September has been an active month historically in the Gulf of Mexico, hopefully we will be spared any problems. The outlook for Teal hunters is outstanding as the numbers of birds is close to an all time high. Local scouting reports have been favorable as a huge push of birds made their way into our part of the state during the past full moon. The first cool front also helped usher more teal south as they continue along their migration towards Mexico and beyond.

Rice fields and areas along the prairies that are holding water are seeing huge concentrations of teal while the same can be said for the coastal marshes. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the public hunting areas along the coast do very well for this weekends opener, especially after a recent scouting trip I made.

A few things to remember about the early teal season that shouldn’t be ignored. First and foremost is safety for everyone involved in the hunt. It’s warm outside and that means all the creepy crawlies will still be hanging around. Alligators and snakes will certainly make their presence felt so be on the lookout, especially if you bring a dog.

Mosquitoes will be another concern with the West Nile Virus lurking around it’s important to take proper precautions so don’t leave home without repellent.

Now as far as hunting goes don’t make it too complicated, teal are usually rather easy to decoy so scouting is more important than decoy placement or calling. Be in area where the birds want to be and you should be fine. If you feel like calling a whistle is the best call you can have on your lanyard, a few easy “peeps” on a whistle is often all you need to get teal to commit to your spread.

The shooting can be fast and furious at times so always be aware of those around you, no bird is worth an accident.

The forecast is good for opening morning so hopefully the birds cooperate, there are certainly enough of them out there to make this one a memorable opening day.

Photo: A strap full of big blue wing drakes would start the season off right for most waterfowl hunters. Photo by Chuck Uzzle