Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Recyling Feathers

Living in the Saginaw Valley region I am located in waterfowl hunting central!
Sportsman take to the fields in layout blinds, inland ponds, the Saginaw Bay shore as well as motoring out and hunting in layout boats. There are ample opportunities for hunters to take advantage of including hunting refuges such as Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area, Fish Pointe Wildlife Area, Crow Island Wildlife Area, Shiawassee Game Refuge, as well as any of the back waters of the Saginaw River and the Saginaw Bay.

Each year the Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival is held at the Bay City State Park located on State Park Drive. There are many activities for folks of all ages and even our dear K-9 friends.
Above is a photo of the K-9 waterfowl retrieve fun hunt.
And below are just some of the vendors at the festival.
At the show the vendors sell everything from boats to artwork to decoys and call to antique waterfowl gear for collectors.
Some of Belle's ribbons above.

I 've been waterfowling for 21 years and have hunted the bay shore, rivers, back waters, fields, etc. I still do quite a bit of layout hunting, but as far as hunting over any water I stick with my good friends and hunt a field my father put into the Conservation Restoration Enhancement Program through the United States Department of Agriculture in 2003. We never seem to see great numbers of driver ducks, which is fine with me. The king of ducks is well known as the canvas back, well in my opinion it will always be the drake mallard. Mind you this is just my opinion, but I can't think of a more beautiful site then a large drake mallard cupped in front of the decoys over one of the 3 ponds on our property. Along with the mallards we seem to shoot plenty of wood ducks, green and blue wing teal, and black ducks. Oh, and plenty of large Canadian Geese! We tend to hunt the geese from the layout blinds in the wheat or corn fields and typically only have pass shooting opportunities in the C.R.E.P. field. We have harvested some drivers on the property which included red heads, blue bills, and pintails.
Bigfoot brand decoys mixed in with a few dozen Carry-Lite brand magnum shells seem to work relatively well when properly positioned in the field. Always remember the key rule to successfully positioning decoys in presentation of a landing pad for large flocks and opposite of hunting whitetail deer where you always want the wind in your face to mask scent, with waterfowl the wind should be to your back and in blowing into the path which you want the waterfowl to land. Ducks and geese alike use the wind to land as well as take off and the slightest breeze can effect how, where, and if they land in your decoy spread.
There are many different styles of layout blinds available and range in price.
Above is a limit of geese shot during early goose season which runs the first few weeks of September in Michigan.

Above is a photo of my father on a typical opening morning of duck hunting in Zone 3.
There are plenty of excellent waterfowl calls out there, you just need to find the one that suits you. I prefer the Dave Lewis Calls. They are hand made here in Michigan and have superb pitch and excellent tone. Regarding decoys there are lots of brands to chose from but I prefer the Herter brand decoys. They are a bit higher in price then other decoys but have a photographic image of an actual duck that makes of there detail. A six pack of Herter decoys (depending on the style) usually runs around $100.00. It's a must to have motion in your decoy spread! This can be accomplished in many different ways including quiver magnet water shakers, battery operated diving ducks, jerk strings (careful though the dog might trip when doing a retrieve) and it is always good to have a few motion ducks in the air. We typically run between 2 to 5 Mojo brand ducks depending on the size of the decoy spread.
There are plenty of great recipes out there for waterfowl which range from stew, bbq, chilli, jerky, etc. Don't be afraid to experiment and using the web to find recipes is always a great tool! Although when cleaning game harvested with a shotgun always remember to clean thoroughly and do your best to get every little pellet out. Especially when cleaning waterfowl since the state of Michigan requires hunters to use steel rather then lead shot.
During the season of 2010, I contacted some fly tyers and fly shops to see if I could make more use of the birds we harvested then just a meal. The bulk of the CDC, flanks and paired mallard wings were all shipped to Angler's Choice Flies and Old Ausable Fly Shop. If you are ever interested in specific feathers please leave me a message, though the CDC's are spoken for sorry. If you are a waterfowler, contact a local fly shop regarding their interest in feathers for tying. Make the most out of any animal you harvest in the field, don't just feed your family and friends, feed a fish!


  1. Just stopped in to say hello and what a great looking dog. Nice blog. Todd