Hunting season ramps up

Seasons for teal ducks, doves kicks off Iowa hunting season

T-R FILE PHOTO - Hunters all over central Iowa will be able to dust off their gear and hit the forest, field or marsh this month as doves, teal ducks, rabbits and squirrels become open to hunting.

An Iowa tradition returns this weekend as hunters set out to pursue game for the first time in months, and there are opportunities around Marshall County to enjoy the hunt.

The beginning of September marks the opening of the state’s special teal duck season, as well as seasons for doves, squirrels and cottontail rabbits.

“It’s a way to commune with mother nature,” said Marshall County Conservation Director Mike Stegmann.

The teal season is an early chance for waterfowlers to get on the water, but Stegmann said hunters must take extra care not to shoot at any other type of duck during the Sept. 1-16 season.

“All other species are protected during the teal season,” he said. “The regulations have been modified to help those hunters.”

Unlike regular duck season later this month, shooting hours begin at sunrise for teal, rather than a half hour before sunrise. Stegmann said the reason is so hunters can better identify the species of duck before taking a shot.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released information on several of the early hunting seasons, including the teal season. Iowa waterways mainly host green-winged teals and blue-winged teals, but the occasional cinnamon teal may also be seen.

“These fast-flying early migrators use the first cool spell in late August as a sign to start heading south,” according to the DNR statement. “Teal have a well-earned reputation as an easy to decoy species popular with young and novice hunters.”

Stegmann said Arney Bend Wildlife Area northwest of Albion is one area teal hunters could try this season. The daily bag limit during the teal season is six, with a possession limit of 18; hunters’ shotguns must be plugged to only load three shells.

Those who prefer to stay dry while hunting may go after doves beginning this month. Two types of doves can be hunted in Iowa: the mourning dove and Eurasian collared dove.

“Your doves are more of an upland species,” Stegmann said. He said the birds are “primarily attracted to food plots,” such as crops of sunflowers. In Marshall County, he said the Marietta Sand Prairie Preserve and Klauenberg Prairie Reserve are open for dove hunting, as well as a section of Union Grove State Park in Tama County.

According to a DNR release, dove hunting can be “fast-paced and fun” and provides a good learning opportunity for young and novice hunters.

“It doesn’t require expensive equipment to participate, only clothes that blend in to the background, a bucket and plenty of shells,” according to the DNR.

The dove season runs until Nov. 29. Shooting hours are a half hour before sunrise to sunset, and the daily bag limit is 15 with a possession limit of 30; as with teal, dove hunters must have a plug in their shotgun to hold three shells at a time.

Hunting for gray and fox squirrels is open until Jan. 31, 2019 and for cottontail rabbits until Feb. 28, 2019. The bag limit for squirrels is six with a possession limit of 12; for rabbits, the bag limit is 10 with a possession limit of 20.

Stegmann said safety should be the primary concern of all those who decide to go hunting this year, as well as anyone else who enjoys outdoor activities.

“Be aware of your surroundings, be courteous to other people,” he said. “Don’t trespass.”

An avid hunter himself, Stegmann said he, too, will be going after game this late summer and fall.

“I’ll be out somewhere,” he said.

For more information, including comprehensive hunting regulations and rules, visit www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com