Where Are Teal For Georgia Early Season?

Few shots fired during opening weekend of the 2003 early teal and goose season in Georgia.

GON Staff | September 16, 2003

Georgiaʼs early teal and goose season began on Saturday, September 20, and most hunters GON talked to said that teal were scarce.

According to Greg Balkcom, Georgia WRDʼs waterfowl biologist, teal numbers are generally lowest along the Savannah River, better in the middle part of the state in places like along the Ocmulgee River, and best on the western side of the state along the Chattahoochee River. Opening weekend, it was apparently slow across the state. Here are some hunting reports from around the state:

Altamaha River: Scott Brookins of Statesboro has been hunting ducks on Rhetts Island for 21 years. This year, with Rhetts drained for repairs to the dikes, Scott and two friends went scouting in the nearby marshes.

“You hear shooting out in the marshes,” said Scott. “I am sure there are places out there to hunt, I just have never had to venture out to look.”

Scott and friends zeroed. Scott calls it a non-event. “The teal just didn’t seem to be in,” said Scott. “We found some new places, and when the ducks come in they might be okay.”

Hurricane Isabel that went into North Carolina last week may have been the wild card for Georgiaʼs coastal duck hunters.

“We thought the hurricane would either push the ducks down to us, or push them back up the coast to Virginia or Maryland,” said Scott. “It apparently pushed them north.”

Scott said that they saw only one flock of about a dozen teal, and they saw one group of a half-dozen black ducks.

“We talked to hunters in a couple of other boats. One boat had three teal, the other boat had one.”

Berrien County: Stuart Richardson of Tifton hunted a 20-acre tract of flooded timber that was full of duckweed. He said they saw more than 100 teal on Saturday and shot four blue-wing teal. They went back on Sunday and shot one more.

Stuart said a friend went to hunt in the salt-water marsh near Darien, and no ducks came in to the usual hunting spot. Since there were no birds flying, they went riding and saw good numbers of teal between Rhetts Island and the sound.

Bibb County: Rodney Castell of Macon and some of his duck-hunting buddies were set up Saturday morning on a Bibb County millet field ready to ambush some Canada geese. Rodney said that they had scouted the field and knew where the geese had been landing. They set out a couple dozen decoys and were ready for the geese to arrive. The geese showed up — two flights of about 200 birds each. The birds set their wings and dropped into the field about 150 yards beyond the decoys and hunters to an area that they had previously not used.

“If we had had a camera, we could have taken some good pictures,” said Rodney. “But we didnʼt fire a shot.”

Rodney said he had heard of a few teal being shot in beaver swamps, but most hunters opted in favor of slinging arrows at deer instead of fighting mosquitos in the swamps.

Lake Hartwell: Fishing guide Mark Waller said there was a lot of shooting from the points and islands near the dam Saturday morning. “The hunting should be a lot easier this year since the lake is back up,” he said. “There are a ton of geese using the lake.”

Lake Juliette: On Sunday morning, Gary and friends were set up on Lake Juliette on an island north of the power plant.

“We saw zero geese,” said Gary. “We finally had four teal come by. I was able to call them back, and we killed two of the four.

“We didn’t see a goose in the air until after noon.”

Gary said they saw or heard four other groups of duck/goose hunters on the lake.

With no activity over decoys, they went looking for geese and found some back in a cove. They applied a sneak-and-jump-shoot technique and killed two geese. Three of the four geese they killed over the weekend wore leg bands.

“I have been looking at sites on the internet and the people say that Texas and Louisiana are wrapped up in teal,” said Gary. “I think they may have already come through here.”

Pike and Meriwether counties: Jeff Lindsay and three friends hunted a Pike County millet field Saturday, a Meriwether County lake on Sunday morning, and a Meriwether County wheat field on Monday. “The biggest problem we had was flocks of 60 to 80 geese coming in,” said Jeff. “We didnʼt shoot into them because we donʼt want to educate them.” On Saturday, they killed four geese. On Sunday they passed on some big flocks, then had a flock of 10 come in and they dropped seven out of the flock, and took 10 for the day. Monday morning they also passed on some big flocks before a flock of 13 decoyed in and they killed 10.

Jeff said they hunt over small numbers of decoys. “If you put out a big spread, the geese know that they are the only ones using the spot, and if they see a big spread all of a sudden, they know something is fishy.” On Monday their “spread” included just four decoys.

Thomasville: Jamie Rex of Flyway Specialties in Thomasville said the hunting success stories were rare. “I heard about one guy who killed three blue-wing teal in Chatham County and another guy who killed three somewhere in north Georgia. Other than that, I donʼt have any reports of anyone killing teal or of even seeing teal. Most people didn’t even go based on the reports before the season.”

West Point Lake: Gary Watson of Roberta and two friends were set up at the upper end of West Point Saturday morning trying to shoot geese or teal.

“We were set up on a point near where New River and Potatoe Creek come in,” said Gary. “We saw zero teal and zero geese. It was the worst I have ever seen at West Point. There was a group behind us that was shooting and we heard some shooting from the Brushy Creek area, but I donʼt know what they were shooting at. We didn’t see anything.”

Despite the slow start, Gary and his friends managed to shoot a pair of geese at 11 a.m.

“We saw some geese back in a cove and put out on the hill and slipped up on them, jumped them up and killed two.”

West Point used to be guaranteed for geese, said Gary. “They just weren’t there, or they are on the lower end of the lake. We went looking and checked every cove from New River to the Hwy 219 bridge and didn’t see a goose.”

The early teal/goose season continues until September 28. The limit on teal is four per day; the limit on geese is five per day.

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