MOUND CITY, Mo. -- At many duck camps, the teal season creates nothing more than a low-grade fever.
Many purists pass on the season that features the early migrating teal, not wanting to put up with the heat, humidity and mosquitoes.
But that's not the case at the Napier Hunt Club, located along the border of the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri.
Check out the scene earlier this month, when the Missouri season opened.
Shortly before dawn, the clubhouse was bustling with activity, four-wheelers rambled down lanes toward wetlands and Labrador retrievers bounded out of kennels, ready to be called into action.
Here, that's called tradition. And it's not to be taken lightly.
"A lot of us look forward to this weekend for a long time," said Fred Bosilevac, 61, of Overland Park, Kan. "A lot of us just live for this duck hunting, and this is the first chance to get out."
That excitement is understandable. The Napier Hunt Club has as ideal a setup for teal hunting as you'll find. Anywhere.
Members have dedicated a five-acre pool to teal hunting, and they manage that wetland to attract the early birds.
They plant moist-soil vegetation in the spring and summer, then flood it a couple of weeks before the hunting season starts. The rest is up to Mother Nature.
When cool weather sends the thin-skinned teal south, Squaw Creek often attracts good numbers of the ducks. And what's good for Squaw Creek is good for the Napier Hunt Club.
"Ducks getting up out of the refuge and flying south, they're going to go right over us," Bosilevac said. "When we have good conditions, we'll catch the eye of a lot of ducks."
They certainly did on a recent Sunday.
Moments after nine hunters had waded through knee-high water and had taken a seat on wooden shooting benches, the show started.
Before shooting hours even opened, speedy teal began swooping down on the decoys spread out in the shallow water.
Dan Byers and his black Lab, Nite, sat with Bosilevac and waited. As the sun peeked over the horizon, squadrons of the miniature jets appeared. And the firing started.
Byers was one of the first to connect.
As a teal dropped down and buzzed the marsh, he quickly snapped off a shot and watched as the bird tumbled to the marsh.
Nite bounded out and tracked down the teal that had fallen into heavy vegetation, then ran back with his prize.
"Good boy," Byers said. "That's the way to find those ducks."
Moments later, Nite became a very busy dog. As strings of teal began showing up, shots rang out and the retriever found nonstop work.
It wasn't long before Byers and Bosilevac filled out their limits of four teal apiece. Soon, other members followed suit.
By the time the action slowed, the nine hunters had taken 35 birds and were wading out of the pool with memories of another successful opening-weekend hunt.
"Yesterday (Sept. 11), eight of us had our limit in 20 minutes," Byers said. "It took longer today. But this was still a good day."
It was especially satisfying for Dave Locy, who was hunting with his son and grandson.
"My grandson (Justin Locke) shot his first duck up here when he was 8," Locy said. "I'll never forget how he turned to me and said, 'Grandpa, this is the best day of my life.'
"He's 14 now and he has been hunting up here with me ever since. He's hooked on this duck hunting."
So is Bosilevac. His father bought the land where the duck club now sits in 1961, primarily for dryland snow-goose hunting.
But the Bosilevacs noticed how a steady stream of ducks passed over the land, too, and Fred decided to have marshes built and start a duck club.
The club was established in 1999 when Fred went in with seven other hunters. Today, there are 18 members, and they hunt out of blinds scattered across a 110-acre marsh. A well provides water that is pumped into the wetland in advance of the regular duck season. And each of the blinds has an aerator in front of it, designed to keep the water open when it's below freezing.
But in September, the interest is centered on the five-acre teal pool, which gets plenty of use before the 16-day season ends.
"We'll start pumping water into it about the first of September," said Byers, who lives in Kansas City. "The teal will find it right away.
"By the time the season opens, we'll usually have teal if they've moved down."