After all those years of joking about being a grizzled old veteran hunter, I now are one and it ain’t no joking matter!

I hunted blue-winged teal during that very first special teal season, about 1964. I was in high school and Dad and I floated the river in September in one of our wooden johnboats, with a blind attached to the bow, jump-shooting them like we did mallards in December. The limit was four then… it is six daily now.

There would always be a few teal on the river…maybe three or four good-sized flocks. Sometimes there would be eight or ten in a group, sometimes as many as twenty or more and they were never as wary as the mallards and wood ducks we would hunt in the regular season. If you saw them first you could drift in close.

They make up for their lack of wariness with some speed. Ornithologists say they don’t fly much faster than other ducks, but I’d bet my chest waders they do. Lead one like you’d lead a mallard and you’ll not even dust his tail-feathers. A flock of teal is a squadron of feathered jetfighters, there and gone almost before you can say ‘here they come’. Decoying teal is great if it isn’t too hot, but my thing has always been floating the river, jump shooting them.

A rare late migrator greenwing teal with an early migrating blue wing. Brightly colored in the spring, they are drab-colored in the fall.

Maybe I have told this story before, about coming home from School of the Ozarks College in September and hunting teal on the river. I floated alone that day because Dad figured it was too hot and four little teal were not worth the effort. I was only 17 at the time, and had a lot of exuberance. But it got hot about mid-day and I stripped down for a quick dip in the cool river.

About the time I came up for air, a big flock of teal streaked over me under the treetops. Figuring they might circle and return, I grabbed my shotgun and was hunkered down behind the stern of my johnboat about chest-deep in the clear water. Watching downstream, I was so intent I didn’t hear the fishermen coming over the shoal above me. As they passed, they allowed as how it was a nice day and reckoned from that wooden johnboat I was hiding behind I might be Fred Dablemont’s grandson. One of them said he had heard I was a college boy, as if that might account for why I was standing in the water naked with a shotgun in my hand!

I just stood there in that cool current, wishing they’d get on down the river. It is the only time in my entire life I have ever hunted ducks naked. But many times since, in the heat of mid-September, I have wished I were young enough to do it again.

I love to fish a buzz-bait or some other big noisy topwater lure, late in the evening just off the edge of a river current where the water gets deep. So it could be that I might float a river this coming week, catch a few bass, and shoot a few teal. Might even bag a squirrel or two…. and go for a swim. The season ends on the 24th. Anybody want to go along?

On Thursday evening, September 14 from 7 to 8 p.m. I will be at the Houston Missouri rural fire department, trying to start up an organization to oppose what I see at the corruption of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the illegal activity of their agents. Please join me there to help begin a new ‘Common Sense Conservationist’ organization. Call me for more information-417 777 5227 or email me at

We need leaders… meetings in 20 or 30 more Ozark towns will be scheduled for the upcoming fall and winter.