Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Wisconsin's early teal season still getting scrutiny

Dan DurbinWisconsin’s first early teal season is over and some people are glad it is.  Some are angry it even happened at all. Even the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association (WWA), the largest in-state waterfowl related conservation organization, wouldn’t officially weigh-in on if they felt the season was a good idea.

Well, Dale Arenz, a retired attorney from Waukesha and former president of WWA, isn’t so timid about saying how he feels about the topic and contacted me about just that.

“There is no need for it,” he said.  “My son and I have shot blue-winged teal as late as the middle of October in northern Wisconsin (Vilas County and Forest County) and late October in southern Wisconsin (Walworth and Jefferson counties). I keep records of our hunts. The greenwing teal, of course, stay much longer so I am only discussing bluewings. We have never had a problem getting bluewings under the previous seasons.”

So, in laymen’s terms, Arenz contends that a person can get decent hunting for a variety of teal if they are patient, and hunt the appropriate areas.

Another reason for him not wanting the season is because he contends that it makes hunting for other ducks harder once the main season opens.

“The early teal season spooks all ducks,” he said. “There is no question that shooting at ducks spooks them into leaving early and coming back late. In previous years the first two days of the season are the best and after that the ducks got smart. This year with the early teal shooting we found the ducks leaving before shooting time. This was the worst season for ducks we have had in many, many years. Normally I average around 25 ducks every year, this year I got eight. My son who works hard jump shooting usually is near 100 ducks every year – this year he got 30, and this was supposed to be a great year for ducks. The early season spooked them out.”

Arenz also doesn’t like the fact that other species of ducks ended up getting blasted out of season.

“Waste,” he said.  “Even with the 'watchers' (extra people assigned by the DNR to observe the early season) present we still had 14 percent violation, which means a lot of other ducks were killed and what is going to happen when the hunters know that the 'watchers' are no longer there? My experience has been that only 5 percent of the waterfowl hunters can identify a flying teal from a flying ringneck, ruddy, wood duck or even widgeon and mallards – especially during the first 20 minutes after opening. After 60-plus years of waterfowl hunting I still have a problem identifying flying ducks coming at me or in early light.”

What do you think?

I am not one to typically be against more hunting opportunities, but Arenz, even though being a retired attorney, presents a compelling case.

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