Scouting question

This Midwestern state holds many waterfowl species. Post here and read others views on Wisconsin duck hunting. From the mighty Mississippi river to the west to the great lake of Michigan on the east, WI has many different types of hunting available to hunters.

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Scouting question

Postby GREENHEAD777 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:40 pm

Hey guys,

As most of you have probably figured out by either not recognizing my username or noticing I have 0 posts, I am new on DHC. I love duck hunting and bird hunting in general. I've been out the last couple weeks scouting and have seen a fairly nice increase in the amount of Geese but VERY LITTLE duck action going on. For me this is typical to see geese moving in a little before the ducks where I am but I literally have a hard time finding any ducks right now. The most I've seen at once is four and probably only a total of ten. Most of the scouting has been on rivers and little ponds/ lakes in SE WI. I'm not asking for honey holes nor would I expect that but scouting is fairly new to me and I was just wondering if there's a process anyone uses. I know it sounds odd because scouting is basically just driving around or walking and looking but are there areas that tend to draw your attention more and areas you typically stay away from? Do you use maps before going out? I appreciate any advice and good luck to everyone else in their scouting/hunting in the near future!
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Re: Scouting question

Postby Richie27 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:01 am

There really isn't a method to the madness besides filling up the truck and putting on some miles. You can always reference a map for areas to target then go put boots on the ground and is what its like. Perhaps there isn't any water...etc.
The best advice is to scout during the time frame you're looking to hunt and see where the birds are. From there you can go knock on the doors and ask for permission or put together a list of where you're seeing birds and dedicate a day to asking for permission.
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Re: Scouting question

Postby jmitch » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:04 am

The only thing I can tell you is you just have to find water and investigate. Thats really the only way I know to find out if birds are using it. I use aerials like google earth to find good looking stuff then its spending some time on the ground. Its still pretty early for ducks but you should be seeing some anyway. If your early goose hunting that will give you a good chance to watch the ducks too and should give you a better idea where they are in your area. Theres plenty of ducks around you just gotta put in the time to find them. Scouting does get easier over the years after you have some knowledge and experience in the area you're hunting in.
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Re: Scouting question

Postby DukDukGoose » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:07 am

Over the years you will start to figure out where to look/ you'll know where the birds should be. Usually they are in the same places every year (Depending upon water levels) this year has been a little more tough than most.
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Re: Scouting question

Postby backwoodsboy09 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:28 am

I use the same method as Jmitch, download google earth, start looking for marshes or ponds land locked by fields. Find the closest intersection, write it down or circle it on a map and drive there. Spent 4 hours doing that Monday and locked in 7 miles of field that should hold a ton of geese come october and some nice little pot holes in them that still have water! :-D

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Re: Scouting question

Postby GREENHEAD777 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:42 am

Thanks guys I appreciate it. I will say that I have seen more ducks in the river I live by which in the past signals that they're moving around because most of the summer I only see them using the park pond and typically are in couples. And I haven't checked any locations I'm used to seeing birds in large numbers in, most has been newer territory but territory I know ducks use because its in a location where guys get ducks and close to where I see a lot. I plan on going out today to look at a spot I used for the opener last year which had about 50 ducks and geese in it right away at 7 am but because of the 9 am shoot time most spooked before and I was only able to bag one mallard. Really hoping theres water but to be honest the reason I stopped using it last year was because after a month into the season it really dried up and was hard to hunt due to lack of decent cover close to the water.
I did notice that when I hunted the spot at nights I saw many ducks flying by all coming from the same location, most never even gave my spread a look. The place is located in a spot with crop fields all around and lakes everywhere so it's hard to determine where they would be coming from and where they're going to roost. Mornings really seem to be the best because most of the time I think the birds drop in there to group up before heading out to feed. I never went a morning there without having atleast 5 birds land and most the time they were singles or doubles. Do you thing they're using a field near by to feed or do they use lakes also?
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Re: Scouting question

Postby webfettish » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:26 am

early season is tricky no matter how you put it. this year is even moreso because of the early wheat harvest and now a lot of farmers are planting covercrops to try and compensate a bit for the horrible harvest of corn they are expecting. With corn and bean fields still up, and all the wheat fields getting planted over or disked under, geese and ducks will be concentrated to areas where food is more plentiful. You have to remember that you dont just have a bunch of birds flying south looking for anything that looks like potential, these birds right now know what they want and where they can find it. You need to really dig for the X or get as close as you possibly can and try to get them to check out your spread. even up here by the horicon, i am hunting a field that has had hundreds if not thousands of geese and ducks in it in the past month or two, now in the last week and a half i havent seen a single duck or goose even work the field. it is one of my best options still to hunt this field, and try to fool a few with some decoys making them think maybe there is something to be had in that field, but most of the local birds already know that field is picked clean. Only thing a man can do is drive, walk, and sometimes swim to try and find out where the ducks/geese are.
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Re: Scouting question

Postby GREENHEAD777 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:11 pm

Webfettish- I went out today looking for harvested fields to see if I could get any permission to hunt and only came across one field which looked to be hay that was mowed dowm. What looked nice was the fact that it was adjacent to two corn fields and close to lakes and ponds. No birds anywhere to be seen though and I checked all the lakes and ponds. You seem to know more than I do about the crops so I was wondering what you would suggest as far as what fields the birds seem to be working this early?

Unfortunately my "honey hole" from last year is completely dry, so i'm damn near out of options. I don't own a boat so getting easy access ponds and fields is my only go to. This is definitely going to be the hardest year for anyone who is limited to not using a boat. I did stumble across a corn field with a pond in the middle of it that I know at sometime during the year has to hold birds in it because I see birds in the area all the time, at least in past years. I didn't ask permission in part because I'm afraid to piss off the wrong guy and also because I couldn't figure out which house's door to knock on. I won't have much time after today to do scouting because of classes beginning but I'm gonna try and make it out there once a week until the season starts to scout the fields and ponds. Maybe once I start seeing birds the adrenaline will kick in and I'll build up the courage to go ask for permission.
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Re: Scouting question

Postby Richie27 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:19 pm

Go knock on doors.
Be polite.
The worst that can happen is they say no.
Then say thanks for your time.
Move on to plan B, C, D...etc
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Re: Scouting question

Postby webfettish » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:27 pm

GREENHEAD777 wrote:Webfettish- I went out today looking for harvested fields to see if I could get any permission to hunt and only came across one field which looked to be hay that was mowed dowm. What looked nice was the fact that it was adjacent to two corn fields and close to lakes and ponds. No birds anywhere to be seen though and I checked all the lakes and ponds. You seem to know more than I do about the crops so I was wondering what you would suggest as far as what fields the birds seem to be working this early?

Unfortunately my "honey hole" from last year is completely dry, so i'm damn near out of options. I don't own a boat so getting easy access ponds and fields is my only go to. This is definitely going to be the hardest year for anyone who is limited to not using a boat. I did stumble across a corn field with a pond in the middle of it that I know at sometime during the year has to hold birds in it because I see birds in the area all the time, at least in past years. I didn't ask permission in part because I'm afraid to piss off the wrong guy and also because I couldn't figure out which house's door to knock on. I won't have much time after today to do scouting because of classes beginning but I'm gonna try and make it out there once a week until the season starts to scout the fields and ponds. Maybe once I start seeing birds the adrenaline will kick in and I'll build up the courage to go ask for permission.


Right now you will want to find something that the geese will be able to land in, and they prefer grain to any other food, however alfalfa fields (hay) will work, i have even seen flocks of mallards land in standing bean fields last year. I would suggest a cut wheat field, sweet corn, or alfalfa near larger bodies of water. It is hard to find a solid X this time of year but if you can catch a few geese flying by and catch their eye, you may be able to pull them close enough for a shot. As far as not knowing whose door to knock on, check the county platt map, i know by us, the fond du lac county plat map (GIS) is available online and rather interactive. it gives you the names of the owner(s), address of the land, and you can look up the owners name(s) in the white pages, then give them a call and tell them who you are and what you plan to do. then you can set up a meeting time where you can meet face to face. The worst they could say is no in a pissed off manner and you dont even have to feel like an ass because they dont really know who you are. Private land is always nice to have. once you get your first permission to hunt somebodies land will build your confidence very quickly.

get in your vehicle and drive around at various times of day when you plan on hunting and watch the sky. find fields that meet the criteria above and go get it.

Best of luck, but the only way to hunt early season goose is by trial and error.
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Re: Scouting question

Postby Richie27 » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:59 pm

hopefully everyones scouting paid off over the weekend and put some birds on the ground. We had a rough start on the geese Saturday morning but was able to drop the hammer on some dove. Then Sunday / Monday, we were able to put some geese on the ground. It sure felt nice to see a group of 20+ birds flipping coming into the decoys. I can't wait for the temperature to cool and really start getting after the birds.
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