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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Who can help a newbie out?? ive been living in central illinois and started hunting down here. So my waterfowl has been farm ponds, fields and a trip to the Mighty Mississippi once or twice...mainly fields and farmponds. I am moving back around chicago and am willing to travel i would like to start hunting the big pond (Lake Michigan)

Anyone have tips for someone to get started?
 

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biggest thing that ive noticed hunting the big water is scouting is critical there are so many areas the birds can be it can sometime be hard to locate good numbers. Also find out it the area you will be hunting needs to accessed by a boat or not. lots of decoys are a must i never go out with less the 5 or 6 dozen. when i first started hunting the lake i used about 1 to 3 dz and just couldnt compete with the large rafts of waterfowl out there. and practice your shooting alot the action can be fast and the wind can howl like a freight train
 

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What he said. But I'll add that you should try to make some friends with other duck hunters. It's not too hard, as you know we're a friendly lot. Big water hunting can be dangerous, and it's not a good idea to go it alone in most cases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replys already... What about equipment needed? i am sure its alot different then what i am used to taking. Also Does anyone hunting around the illinois wisconsin border? just to let me know how they hunt? Either from boat or floating blind?
 

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Flyzone, I live near Chicago and have also looked into hunting the big lake. Couldn't get too much info., but it looks like most guys hunt from boats. From what I've heard is that they hunt from their fishing boats - Lunds etc. and mybe put a grey tarp or something over it to camoflage it. Sounds like it's a LOT of work if you want to do it right and be safe. There are some guys that do guide out of Milwaukee and I thought about giving them a shot but I think that I would much rather hunt the IL or Miss. rivers.
 

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i hunt up around green bay and we hunt both from boats and from shore this is why scouting is so important so you know how the water depth is. one area i hunt the water is only 3ft deep for hundreds of yards and another sport drops to over 10ft after only 20yrds or so. and what the captain said about having other ppl along is very important especially in a boat the weather can turn deadly in only minutes on michigan and you dont want to be stuck out there alone trust me. on the equipment note that depends on what kind of hunting you do and what style of hunting you prefer if you give me some insight on those i can help you out better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What are the major species that you see on the mississippi and lake michigan? The equipment that i have now is mainly for hunting fields and out of pits that we have built around pasture ponds
 

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I agree that safety is key. Have the right equipment for the conditions, keep an eye and ear to the weather, and use your head. As far as the water depth goes, you'll need more line and heavier weights on your decoys in order to keep them in place. It's good to have a chart of the area you will be hunting, especially when hunting out of a boat. I always check it when I hunt a new spot to be sure that I've got enough line on my decoys. We hunt for divers in water between 5 feet and 35 feet deep. And while I'm typing about weights and lines, make sure you have a good anchor and enough anchor line for your boat too.
 

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on the lake i see everything this year i shot.....mallards,blue and green wing teal,pintail,shoveler, gads,widgeon, redhead,bluebill,bufflehead,cans,goldeneye and i think thats it. yeah weights are a key on the decoys and i also put a dab of good glue on my nots because the waves have a way of working the nots loose. and i would use atleast a 6oz weight on your dekes. if you are going to be walking out you are going to want to invest in a good decoy bag cuz you will be carrying alot of them. usually adding motion isnt a big deal on the lake but i have seen days when the lake especially the bays are still as glass. Also camo and making sure you are well hidden is key these ducks on the big lake are really smart and they seem to be even more warry especially in the late season more so than marsh or field ducks in my experiece, except for the divers cuz they are just plain stupid.
 

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Flyzone61 said:
What are the major species that you see on the mississippi and lake michigan?
sorry i thought that you asked all what i get the major species are teal and mallards in the early season and mallards and bills late, but i did shoot alot of redheads this year compared to years past
 

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In light of what's already been said, you can have all the safety equipment known to mankind. The one thing often over looked by guys such as your self just staring out, is experience with the boat and motor you'll be using. You need to know how that boat is going to react to ruff waters. The summer is the best time to get that experience. You'll need a motor you can depend on when thing's get tight out there and they will. Last, but not leased, if your going out into the big pond. You'll need a partner that can run the boat as well as you can, incase your not able to. The last thing you need is someone out there who can't get you butt out of there. Look I'm not trying to scare you off the pond; I just don't want to hear that you got into trouble out there. Just my 2cents Good luck :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks guys all this has been helping me alot. And i can really understand that safety is key, that the last thing to be stuck out there and be screwed... Now another one of my questions i ve heard you need to be 500 feet off shore...i know thats about a 1/10 of a mile. Does it get deep? i guess this question is more for the guys that hunt the big lake in illinois?
 

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You need to find a shallow spot off shore, a shellfish bed or a shoal is the best. Do some scouting and find out where they're flying to and from where. It won't always be the same, there are tons of variables; wind, barametric pressure, precipitation, ect. but if you can get yourself on or near a feed bed and a good spread of decoys you'll be able to pull them in so they'll at least give you a look if not lock right up and come in full bore. Most of them like to feed in less than 30' of water. There are exceptions but I shoot most of the divers in 1 - 15 feet of water.
 

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yeah it just depends on where you go out there like i said early i have a spot where i have gone out nearly 400yrs to retrieve a cripple and it never got more than 3ft deep just get a topo or something and find out how deep it will be some of my best hunting on the big pond has been in 1 to 5 fow. and if you havent shot many divers before get some practice shooting at low fast targets. just to give you an idea of how fast they fly...this year i had two bills come by and i had a 3ft or so lead(im guessing) on the lead bird and i dropped the second bird which trailed the lead bird by 3 or 4 ft. so get used to fast paced action....its a blast
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wow yeah i am used to hunting mallards, teal, gadwalls so my speed might be little slow... do you think i would need to get in contact with dnr to find out where its legal to hunt from shore? or do you hunt from a floating layout blind? You guys have been very helpful so far, i appreciate all the response ive got just to help a newbie go from puddlers to divers and not knowing anything
 

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i hunt from shore alot and really in most states as long as you are in the water you are fine as far as private or public land is concerned but it would still be safe to check it out.
 

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Unless you have a bigger boat - at least 16' (and that is really too small in my opinion) - then you won't be able to make it out on the lake. There is no hunting from shore and IL is much more strict on how far you have to be out versus WI.
 

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Really? No hunting from shore? That is absolutely tragic! I was trying to make this point in another thread. Us hunters are being forced out of existance through ridiculous legislation. What a crying shame.
 

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It is a shame CptD. You see it all over too, not just in hunting. There are many examples of law abiding people utilizing a resource until tree huggers and the public that just doesn't know the facts pass legislation. This legislation makes it almost impossible for one to hunt, fish, trap, etc. in a given area. How many new hunters would you have if they all had to start out by spending thousands on a boat? Sportsmen really need to stick up for themselves, educate the public, and be good examples while afield.
 
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