tips for my first GSL hunt

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tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby jeff788 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:46 am

Hi everyone,

First off, thanks to everyone who regularly posts here. I've been lurking on this forum for quite a while and gleaning lot of good information. Pictures of your hunts keep me motivated to figure this stuff out and learn to hunt waterfowl. I've only gotten into bird hunting over the last few years and the learning curve has been steep, but the challenge is part of the fun.

This is my first season with my first bird dog, a female Drahthaar, and she's been doing pretty well. We hunted FB 3-4 times and the Green once and while I wasn't able to shoot any birds for her, she was able to retrieve 4 birds for other people who I came across that were having a hard time locating their birds (but were trying very hard). Since it has cooled down we've mostly been hunting chukar, which has had its own learning curve, but we're both starting to figure that out now.

Now that she's had quite a few experiences with various upland birds, I'm now wishing I would have been able to get her some more waterfowl retrieves. With a few weeks in the season and this frigid weather I understand that waterfowl options are limited, but I think that this weekend or next I'm going to make at least one more waterfowl effort before the season closes, and I'm thinking about attempting to hunt the Great Salt Lake. I've never hunted it or even hiked out to it, so I'm looking for any advice that you might be willing to share. I understand that it will be a long, cold hike, and being my first time in a new area I'm prepared for failure, but that's how you learn right? Here's some specific questions:

1. I'll be dragging a jet sled out there with some decoys, what should I do to conceal myself and my dog? I'm assuming that there is little vegetation, right? How do you hide on a sandy shore with no vegetation?

2. Decoys. Right now I've got 2 dozen mallard decoys. From what I understand I'll mostly likely run into spoonies, goldeneye, and maybe some teal. I've seen some threads showing how you can make diver decoys by painting puddler decoys. Would it be wise to take some of my mallards and paint them black and white? How many of my decoys should I take?

3. Access. I think I have a pretty good idea about where to start hiking near Saltair, but I know that there is a lot of land that is off-limits out there. I'd be grateful if someone could send me a PM just letting me know where the off-limits (nature preserve, state park, etc.) land is, or how I can find out myself.

Also, if anyone is interested in joining me shoot me a PM. I hear its a long walk and it'd probably be safer to go with someone.

Thanks in advance,

Jeff
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby Locked&Loaded » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:57 am

Hi Jeff-

Welcome to the forum!

In terms of concealment in areas like you describe with no vegetation to hide in, this time of year makes it a bit easier because you can lay on your back with a white sheet over the top of you and you will be virtually invisible. I have a mutt hutt (which is a little tent) that my dog stays in for concealment.

Regarding the decoy set-up, and this is just my personal opinion, I do not own any diver decoys, only puddle ducks and I kill lots of divers each year, so with it being so late into the season, I would just go with what you currently have and if there are birds working the area, I think you will be fine.

I'm not all too familiar with that area around Saltair, I've hunted it before, but it's been quite a while, so I'm not much help on pointing you in a general direction. Part of the fun is just getting out there and doing some exploring and see what you can turn up.

Best of luck this weekend and let us know how it goes.

P.S. those Drahts are great dogs. I've hunted over a few of them and was impressed. When I owend GSPs I used to do a lot of chukar hunting myself. Chukar hunting is not for the weak hearted as those little buggers always tend to be in the steepest most nasty places possible.
Last edited by Locked&Loaded on Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby duckslayer74 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:02 am

:welcome: Make sure you put a good coat of oil on your gun also.
Winchester SX2 12ga, SX3 20ga, Kicks Highflyer and Terror chokes.
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby Locked&Loaded » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:05 am

duckslayer74 wrote::welcome: Make sure you put a good coat of oil on your gun also.


Boy aint that the truth.
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby spooner » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:20 am

Welcome to the forum. Anyone with the name "Jeff" cant be that bad.... :wink:

For concealment, just lay in your sled in your decoys. The key is hold still. Wear a face mask.

For decoys, the reality is, 2 doz decoys are not going to be enough. You are competing with large rafts of ducks. Take as many decoys as you can.

Here is a youtube video from 2009. This will give you an idea of what it is like hunting the shores of the GSL. You can see the number of decoys we use, plus how we "hide" our coffins.

As mentioned, clean your gear after the hunt, the salt is tough on things.

http://youtu.be/d389N3Cf_O0
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby jeff788 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:52 am

Thanks for the tips and the video link. That looks like fun. I'll have to make some silos in the off season, that would certainly help me get more decoys out there, especially on foot.
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby jeff788 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:21 pm

I ended up hunting by myself with only my two dozen mallards and did pretty well. There were lots of ducks flying. Most didn't give my spread a second look but I had a dozen or so flocks decoy well. Unfortunately my shooting was lousy for most of the day until I focused on calming down, mounting the gun properly and picking a bird. After that I shot four GWT out of the next two flocks.

I wish I would have had pictures of the dog work, which for me was the highlight of the day. As I mentioned above, all of the ducks she had retrieved previously were blind retrieves of birds other people had shot, so she'd yet to have a solid marked retrieve. I think she was beginning to think that setting up decoys was the signal to take a nap in the phrag, but things really clicked for her yesterday. After the first flock decoyed she was constantly scanning the skies for birds and marked the fall of the first bird of the day. She was a little slow on the first retrieve and pointed the bird for a second until I repeated the fetch command, then she scooped it up and came back and delivered it to hand. After that there was no sign of caution and she had loads of enthusiasm. I ended up dropping three birds with two shots out of the next flock. She marked the fall of the closest bird when I saw a cripple 70-80 yards out swimming away. I ran out and took the first bird from her, shot the cripple and sent her on the retrieve. As she was swimming out to the second bird I spotted the 3rd another 50 yards out. After she delivered the second I gave her a line to the third. Being a young dog she only sort of follows a line, but thankfully we were straight down wind from the third bird and she caught the scent and swam straight to it. This is my first hunting dog, so it was especially rewarding to see it all come together and watch her put her nose and training to good use. I doubt I would have gotten those last two without my dog.

After that I decided that I was freezing and that four was good enough for the day. I'd like to claim that it was my skillful shooting and accurate identification before the shot, but truth be told by dumb luck I shot all drakes! :grooving: Thank you all for your helpful suggestions. This hunt did reveal a major problem with having a versatile hunting dog: now I've got to decided if I want to hunt ducks or chukars next weekend :biggrin: .
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby jeff788 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:47 pm

BTW: who are the dirtbags who leave trash everywhere in our marshes? When I arrived on the beach I found shotgun shells, boxes, food wrappers, rotting shovelers and seagulls, etc. I can't imagine what non-hunters must think when they walk out there. I can understand loosing an empty hull here and there; it happens. But this is ridiculous. Fortunately the dirtbags who left their trash where I setup also were thoughtful enough to leave an empty garbage bag too, which made it very convenient to pick up there mess. What thoughtful little dirtbags.

Is there any sort of organized trash cleanup at heavily used hunting areas? If so, I'd like to get involved, especially in places like this that are frequented by non hunters. I think I know what my webelos den will be doing for a service project this spring :biggrin: . We have such great public land to hunt on here in Utah, I'd like to help keep them open.
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby simpleyork » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:00 am

congrats on the hunt! sounds like fun. Too bad about the trash, that gets me frustrated too. was out yesterday with my son trying out my new over/under and there were shells everywhere! we picked up some on the way out. missed a pair of pintails that came in due to me not used to having the safety where my thumb is instead of in front of the trigger where I'm used to on my 870.
it's not how many you get but how many you say you get
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby Labs2 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:58 am

Couldn't agree more with the above comments^^^^^
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Re: tips for my first GSL hunt

Postby Locked&Loaded » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:54 am

Good job, Jeff. Sounds like you had a great day and some good dog work to boot. Glad it all came together. And I also agree that trash is a huge problem and one that is giving all us hunters a bad image. I took my dogs for a run out to Howard Slough this weekend, didnt hunt, just a run and there is garbage all over that place too.
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