Tag Archives: waterfowl hunting

North Zone Waterfowl – Ducks Done but There’s Still Geese

Wrote this on December 10th and never did anything with it…

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Some waterfowl observations.

For the first couple of weeks of the waterfowl season, it sounded like a war zone around Yorkville. Since then, things have died down considerably, hardly hear any shooting. There’s also not many geese hanging around down this way. They usually show up in bigger numbers when the ponds in the area start to freeze over. This stretch of the Fox River doesn’t freeze over because of the effects of the Yorkville dam and that’s a draw for the birds.

But, I have to drive east everyday for work now. I take Route 126 through to I-55. Between Yorkville and Plainfield it’s primarily farm fields. The closer you get to Plainfield, the more birds you see. Hundreds upon hundreds of them. In the fields, flying overhead in massive V’s and all over the DuPage River.

I’m assuming the draw for all these birds is Lake Renwick and all the strip mine pits in the area that are now fishing clubs. As those start to freeze over, a lot of the birds move to the DuPage River, which almost never freezes over.

A smart waterfowler would do a bit of research and check out the hunting opportunities around Plainfield. I know you can hunt on the DuPage River further south of Plainfield, only I can’t remember the details. No public blinds as far as I remember, so you’d need a boat blind. Better still, it might be worth someone’s while to find out if you can drift shoot out of a canoe through that section. I know you can do that on the Fox River down stream of Silver Springs State Park, why not on the DuPage?

As long as there’s open water around Plainfield, the birds will stick around. I’ve noticed for years that the geese hang around in that area all winter mainly because of the DuPage River. I would imagine there has to be a way to take advantage of this.

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Well, things have change a bit since then.

The season for ducks in the North Zone ended on December 18th, but the season for Canada Geese doesn’t end till January 17, 2013. There are still massive amounts of them around Plainfield, but the turn in the weather on Thursday has changed things a bit on the Fox River.

Friday night the geese were moving onto the Fox River down from my house. You don’t think of them flying at night, but I hear them all the time heading down to the river and then talking up a storm once they get there. That means this cold front has started to freeze the ponds in the area and they’re heading for open water. The river will get some skim ice now, but it won’t start to freeze over for awhile yet.

Cruising along the river on Saturday showed geese gathering all over the place. This is the first I’ve seen this all season. Remember my comment above about drift shooting down river from Silver Springs State Park?

I stopped on the bridge over the river that defines this down stream edge of the State Park. In the pool below the bridge and for down stream as far as you could see were geese, at least a couple of hundred of them. This is where you can supposedly start drift shooting on the river. If you want to try this I would get that info verified to make sure, but it’s been done in the recent past and I haven’t heard that things have changed.

That being said, I was out this morning around the beginning of shooting time watching a couple hundred geese leave the river and head for the surrounding fields.

No shooting to be heard anywhere.

The 10 day weather forecast shows low 30’s during the day and teens and twenties every night. This should bring considerably more geese to the river.

If you’re a dedicated Canada Goose hunter, you might not want to miss this.

Gone Huntin’

“What are you doing?”

Well, I was thinking that over the last 10 years I’ve got out duck and goose hunting one time. I used to like hunting for ducks and geese. Setting up the decoys, sitting in a blind all day. I’d get to watch a sunrise and a sunset while sitting on the edge of a river. Very peaceful, very relaxing.

“Noooo, what are you doing with that stick and a loaf of bread?”

Oh, that.

“You’re going to make me regret this conversation, aren’t you.”

You know how I always joke about going after all these resident waterfowl, the ones that hang around here pretty much all year, with a nine iron and a loaf of bread? I thought I’d give it a try. They’re so used to people throwing food at them, they’ll walk right up to you. Nice easy whack upside the head and you got a meal.

I did have to give up on the nine iron idea though cause I don’t have one. I tried to take my dad’s, he can’t golf anymore, but I made the mistake of telling him what I was thinking of doing with it. Besides, if I go out there walking around with a nine iron some guy will think that’s an invitation to strike up a conversation about golf. Ever have a conversation about golf? It’s worse than a conversation about baseball, hockey, football and basketball COMBINED! After a few minutes I’d be begging the guy for a couple of tee’s so I can shove them into my eardrums. It’s brutal.

“I can think of worse things… all I asked was…”

I actually learned this from watching kids. Remember I worked with the Chicago Park District’s Kid Fishin’ program years ago. Kids would bring their lunch along, kids never finish their lunch. So they would start ripping it to shreds and feeding it to the fish. Before you knew it there were ducks and geese streaming in out of nowhere to join in on the feast. They’d eat everything that hit the water or ground. They’d walk right up to your feet. That’s when I first got the idea that I should just pop one.

“That’s baiting, even I know you can’t bait birds.”

Ahhh, most hunting requires baiting. Yeah, they make this stupid law that you can’t go throwing food on the ground or in the water, but it’s all baiting. Think about it, you throw all those decoys out there in a place that you think might be inviting to waterfowl. Then you sit back and start talking to them. You have no clue what you’re saying to them. Hey man, over here, we got food. Or, hey, take a break, nice spot here. Or, hey baby, you wanna get yourself some? You have no clue what your saying to these birds, it’s all baiting.

Squirrel calls, same thing, you’re baiting them with promises of something. Rotating wings on dove decoys, those stupid flapping flag like things waterfowl hunters wave around. Take a look at hunting in cornfields for waterfowl. You set up in a corn field after it’s been harvested and there’s corn everywhere. Brings in the birds by the hundreds. Oh sure, you can argue you didn’t put the corn there, but somebody did. It’s baiting.

Then, how about those idiots that go out deer hunting? There’s actually a product out there called #69 (like deer even know what that is) Doe-in-Rut Buck Lure. The graphic on the front, the one that’s supposed to entice you to buy this product, is an image of a big buck with his nose up the ass of a doe.

Really?

“Can I go now…”

That’s the ultimate in baiting. I know guys that would gladly give up food for sex. All I know is that if you’re dumb enough to put this stuff on then go out wandering around in the woods, I wouldn’t spend too much time bent over doing anything. You get what you deserve at that point.

“You really aren’t going to go do this, are you?”

There’s a score to be paid, remember. All I wanted to do was go out fishing and the geese picked the one spot I had to walk past that didn’t involve swimming in the creek. They honked and hissed, I tried to settle them down. Talked nice to them. Tried to hush them a bit, I’m heading on my way… and what do they do? They try to kill me.

Fun With Wildlife

It’s payback time.

But first, a decision needs to be made… white or wheat?

To: Fox River Waterfowl Hunters Below Yorkville

From: The Guy That Lives on top of the Hill Above the River

Some advice…

When you put your boat in the river at 4 a.m. at the boat ramp six blocks away…
When you start up you’re noisy little outboard motor…
I can hear you like you’re right outside my bedroom window.

The river has some pretty decent current through here.
It’s also not that deep.
So don’t be surprised if you hear a crunching noise come from the underside of your boat.
If you miss that shallow spot, turn around and try to come up stream…
Now you sound like you’re driving your boat through my living room.

I’ve been out on my front porch at that hour listening to you go through this.
There’s something you probably don’t notice because of all the noise you’re making.
Every duck and goose within a mile of you is now flying away from the river, squawking and honking like crazy.
Must have been hundreds of them down there.
Quite a few are flying over my house.

Try this, put your boat in at the ramp near Route 47.
Let your boat drift down the river to the blind you want to use.
DON’T START YOUR MOTOR. FIGHT THE URGE.
You have plenty of time and when you get there and shooting time arrives, you might actually have something to shoot at, instead of sitting there listening to all the gun shots coming from either side of the river.
Those are all the birds you normally would have sent their way.

When you’re done, DON’T START YOUR MOTOR. FIGHT THE URGE.
Just let your boat drift down stream and get out at the boat ramp at Silver Springs State Park.
The other hunters in the other blinds up and down the river will thank you for this…
…and then they don’t have to fight the urge to shoot the motor off the back of your boat as you go by.

Sincerely,

Ken G