Michigan-Sportsman.com banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to waterfowl hunting and wondering if anyone can give me tips on what to look for when scouting, other than seeing where they are swimming around, what else do you look for? any help or suggestions are appreciated. not looking for your honey whole, just getting started.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
115 Posts
Assuming your talking about scouting spots on the water to hunt...just because there's birds there now- doesn't mean they'll be there come october- and vice versa.

If you want to. Try for woodducks (best early in the season)- look for marshy areas and rivers with lots of oak trees near the waters edge- look for areas that have good cover you could face s-se while hunting. Get ideas on water depths on those spots- are they wadable? Google Earth can be a great tool to get started.

Know there's a good chance you aren't the only one to have identified a spot and expect company....

Years ago when my brother and I were green to the sport, he moved to the mecosta area and wanted me to hunt with him there opening day. We scouted the martini sga all summer and had it ALL figured out. We had NO idea there would be 300 trucks at the ramp when we got there at 4am on opening day and it was like ww3 (haven't gone there since!).

Just grab a fishing pole and jump in your boat and start looking around this spring/summer while your fishing.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
37,197 Posts
Start your search in books. Decide what type of duck you wish to learn to target first, I.E. puddle ducks, vs. divers. Then, study the life cycle of several species of each. Learn everything about them. Their pair bonding, breeding and nesting habits. Understand why they migrate and when. Find out what food sources they use during the migration.

Once you are comfortable with that information, start looking for areas that provide what that duck is looking for as it migrates. Look for short term changes, ponds can dry up, smart weed will show up now and then, etc.

Ducks are just amazing. A good bit of the fun of hunting them is learning about them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,901 Posts
This is WAAAAY too large of a topic to give you one perfect answer...there isn't only one. The first thing is you need to learn about ducks and duck habitat. As was already suggested, books, articles, web posts, etc are all good ways to start. Can't tell from your post where in the state you are at, but join organizations like local DU or MDHA chapters and meet other waterfowlers. You will learn a lot that way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,323 Posts
Learn the range and capabilities of your shotgun. Learn the game regulations pertaining to duck hunting. Get the book ducks at a distance and learn how to id species on the wing. And last but not least, if you know a veteran waterfowler and have the chance to hunt with them, do it.

Welcome to the insanity called duck hunting, be safe and have fun!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,654 Posts
Mi hunt is a great application through the DNR that helps in finding public places to hunt. I would scout a few specific areas starting small and learn birds habits for those spots....example, open water, rivers or ponds. Keep it simple in the beginning and keep learning and expanding from there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,188 Posts
Big question. What everybody said above is solid advice, so I won't repeat. If you're starting out waterfowling, I'd start with puddle ducks and save the diver game for after you get the hang of puddle duck hunting, at least as to diver hunting big open water (but if you find a small lake with buffies, eyes and the like this time of the year, you can be somewhat assured there'll be a good chance you can find them back there in the fall). You are right, definitely look for where they're hanging out, but the key with that is to note THE TIME OF DAY you find them. If you see puddlers hanging out in a spot around noon, there's a solid chance they won't be there at dawn or dusk. Finding where ducks scoot to their morning feed IMO would be the best place to start. Location of the evening roost is another good thing to look for. This can change during the time of the year, which provides sort of an unavoidable limitation to scouting during the spring. Right now ducks are breeding and laying and tending to ducklings, so it may not be an ideal time to scout. August is a great time, and, of course, just before and during the actual season is really the best so long as you can find the time to go. Scouting for a field hunt IMO is much easier to do because you can mostly scout from your car, whereas scouting on marshes and bodies of water would often require a boat. The favorite spots of the resident mallards may differ from where the migrating puddlers want to be, but they are often the same.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WATERFOWLFANATIC52

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,901 Posts
....if you find a small lake with buffies, eyes and the like this time of the year, you can be somewhat assured there'll be a good chance you can find them back there in the fall.....
Well...not really. Case in point...in my area of middle southern lower, we get waves of divers coming through in the spring. Cans, reds, bb's...you name it. Lot's of the little puddles are covered for a short period during the mass push back north. But these same puddles will have very few, and often no divers in the fall. So finding divers on a lake this time of year tells you very little in most cases.

This is a prime example of what I said earlier...."Scouting" is a very broad and complicated term.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
This is WAAAAY too large of a topic to give you one perfect answer...there isn't only one. The first thing is you need to learn about ducks and duck habitat. As was already suggested, books, articles, web posts, etc are all good ways to start. Can't tell from your post where in the state you are at, but join organizations like local DU or MDHA chapters and meet other waterfowlers. You will learn a lot that way.
In the Grand Rapids area..Thanks for the tip
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Assuming your talking about scouting spots on the water to hunt...just because there's birds there now- doesn't mean they'll be there come october- and vice versa.

If you want to. Try for woodducks (best early in the season)- look for marshy areas and rivers with lots of oak trees near the waters edge- look for areas that have good cover you could face s-se while hunting. Get ideas on water depths on those spots- are they wadable? Google Earth can be a great tool to get started.

Know there's a good chance you aren't the only one to have identified a spot and expect company....

Years ago when my brother and I were green to the sport, he moved to the mecosta area and wanted me to hunt with him there opening day. We scouted the martini sga all summer and had it ALL figured out. We had NO idea there would be 300 trucks at the ramp when we got there at 4am on opening day and it was like ww3 (haven't gone there since!).

Just grab a fishing pole and jump in your boat and start looking around this spring/summer while your fishing.
Not only on the water for ducks but also fields for Geese. I have been out a handful of times with a few friends that have been hunting for some time now.My hunting buddy and I might have locked down some property in Gun lake to hunt for wood ducks. I have used google earth a bit looking at some properties as well. Thanks for the Tips.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
37,197 Posts
pattern your gun

biggest rookie mistake is over choking

learn to pass shoot no ones looking for pass shooting ops any more
10-4 on the over choking. I use a "skeet" choke in both my 12 and 20 gauges. Of course, I don't shoot long shots either. For me the greatest fun is not the kill, it's getting them to deke to the point of total commitment. When I can see them blink they are close enough. Nuthin as fun than seeing a broadbill set his flaps and drop his gear! 15-20 yards is PERFECT!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,069 Posts
Few tips i find help.

I look for food predominantly. Depending on species im looking for these items and near water on on the water even better.

Grains- mallards geese
Acorns- woodies and where theres woodies often before freeze up you will find hoodies.
Celery, rice -divers. Even milfoil and other various large weedbeds. I think mainly because of insects or small fish.

I spend lots of time on the water all year which gives you an advantage. Always looking for spots. I gps weedbeds and potentially ducky areas all summer. Areas that i suspect will hold birds, and be able to play to my advantage with given winds are always on my mind.

Go out during winter and find the spots that are currently open water. During season freeze outs thats where birds will be. So winter scouting is good too. Also frozen ground makes hikes into swamps easier to look around to determine if further pre season efforts are needed.

Often during season i also dont rush out in the darkness to hunt. I like going out a daylight and watching birds work other hunters and go to spots where they are seeking refuge. Often the 10am-2pm time slot is great hunting. Thats when the am hunters are quiting and pm hunters are starting. They keep birds moving with boat traffic alone.

Be versatile and try not to get into habits. I deal with that myself. Doing the same thing time and time again doesnt always pay off for obvious reasons.

Takes notes or keep a log. Duck species will pick different lakes that look or seem identical, but must not be. Take notes on time of year. Ducks are pretty good about being on time within reason.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,432 Posts
I look for empties.

A couple of Drylok 4's means a good place for wood ducks.

A pile of Blind Side or Black Cloud within 100 yards of a parking area means idiots.

A hideous blind where you could have just tucked into the brush on shore but had to bull doze 100' of brush and build this monument to your stupidity, and then leave it up the next season means there's enough birds to make it worth an effort, but you're going to have to deal with idiots.

The same with a pile of used tp within 10' of it means I make a note to come back the next spring and torch it.

Skoal cans, cnady wrappers, and Monster empties all add to the decision making process.

Seriously though, one of my best spots in Traverse City I didn't even know it was legal until someone trashed it. We cleaned it up and hunted it on the opener for about 15 years after that. They showed up the first year and claimed it was "their spot", so we had a little chat about who shot the 2 3/4" 20 gauge and how cutting up trees with hatchets isn't a good idea, and they never came back again.


That said, in a few of my spots we'll go as far not running spinnies to not draw attention and pouring buckets of water over our foot prints when we leave.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,654 Posts
Few tips i find help.

I look for food predominantly. Depending on species im looking for these items and near water on on the water even better.

Grains- mallards geese
Acorns- woodies and where theres woodies often before freeze up you will find hoodies.
Celery, rice -divers. Even milfoil and other various large weedbeds. I think mainly because of insects or small fish.

I spend lots of time on the water all year which gives you an advantage. Always looking for spots. I gps weedbeds and potentially ducky areas all summer. Areas that i suspect will hold birds, and be able to play to my advantage with given winds are always on my mind.

Go out during winter and find the spots that are currently open water. During season freeze outs thats where birds will be. So winter scouting is good too. Also frozen ground makes hikes into swamps easier to look around to determine if further pre season efforts are needed.

Often during season i also dont rush out in the darkness to hunt. I like going out a daylight and watching birds work other hunters and go to spots where they are seeking refuge. Often the 10am-2pm time slot is great hunting. Thats when the am hunters are quiting and pm hunters are starting. They keep birds moving with boat traffic alone.

Be versatile and try not to get into habits. I deal with that myself. Doing the same thing time and time again doesnt always pay off for obvious reasons.

Takes notes or keep a log. Duck species will pick different lakes that look or seem identical, but must not be. Take notes on time of year. Ducks are pretty good about being on time within reason.
Make friends with people who know all this stuff.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top