Saturday, October 4, 2008

Duck Hunting Fish Point

One of my favorite activities is waterfowl hunting. It's a little more social than other forms of hunting and when the action starts to pick up, there is nothing like it. There have been times while I'm sitting in a deer blind, it's below freezing, I've been in the same sitting position for four hours and I think to myself "it would be really nice to be home right now". I stick it out because that's a part of hunting. But I can honestly say that I have never felt that for even a second while waterfowl hunting. Even last year while I was up at Fish Point by the Saginaw Bay. By 8a.m., I could no longer feel my feet. By 10a.m., I was numb from the knees down. But it was worth every second, even though I didn't take a single shot the entire day. But back to the point of my story.

Fish Point contains more than 3,000 acres of flat farm fields, diked floodings, and coastal wetlands and prairies. Biologists manage the water levels and vegetation for the benefit of waterfowl and other animals that rely on wetland habitats for survival. And with the tremendous variety and abundance of waterfowl found here, the Fish Point area has been called the “Chesapeake of the Midwest”. While there is plenty of excellent hunting in this area, part of the state game area is a wildlife refuge and is off-limits to the public year-round. Unless, that is, if you volunteer for the Fish Point volunteer work weekend. Those that participate in this maintenance and upkeep event get a tour through the sanctuary, something most everyone else in the general public will never see. They have an observation tower and wildlife viewing trail to enjoy the wildlife when you are not hunting. There are also a few private lodges for those that would like a more guided experience. The lodges offer the basic from just a blind to hunt out of to fully guided hunts which include your decoys set, a dog and even lunch brought out to you in the blind.

Now, if you want to hunt the state game area, you have to be there bright and early. The huntable property is divided up into hunting zones. There are areas of corn, flooded corn, field, and little ponds and marshes. A few of these sites have blinds set up, but for the most part you are on your own. But, to get any of these, you must enter the lotto. When you first arrive, you are assigned the number in the order you came in, i.e. if you are the first person to walk into the building that morning, your number would be 1. If you are the second person, you would be number 2, and so on. Then, at 5:30a.m. (don't quote me on that, but I'm pretty sure that's that time) they pick a sheet of numbers randomly from a stack of about 15 sheets. They then read the pre-printed list of numbers, and you hope for the best. When they call your number you pick what area you want and that spot is marked off. The better spots (the one's with the blinds) are reserved for parties of 2 or more. If you are a single hunter and want one of the areas reserved for 2 or more, you can pass when your number is called until everyone else has picked and, if one is left over, you can take it. But, if there is more than 10 parties, there's a pretty good chance that those spots wont last long. Once you have picked your spot, you make your way out and you are good to go! There are two hunts. One in the morning from opening shot until 11a.m. and then another that starts at 1p.m. (once again, don't quote me, but I think that is the time) until last shot. You have to enter a lotto for the afternoon hunt just like the morning hunt, but there is usually not as many people at the second hunt.

Once you are done with your morning hunt, you have a few hours to kill. The local towns of Unionville and Sebewaing have some excellent diners and shops. Don's Sport Shop‎ is a great place to check out. It's a little "mom and pops" sporting goods store with some very interesting items and more information about the local hunting and fishing then you could learn in a lifetime.
Now, of the places there that I have hunted, my favorites would be over the potholes and the dry field. The dry corn field, also called the "scatter zone", is not a popular place to set up, but I have had some good luck there on the windy days. In the beginning of the season, the birds there are pretty uneducated. But once the season hits full swing, they learn pretty quick. It's amazing to watch these birds come off the bay and the second they cross the shore line, they jump right up above 350 yards and higher. They keep their height until the get over the refuge and then they perform a maneuver that still makes my jaw drop. They go into what is almost like a death spiral and drop strait down into their haven. It's just amazing to watch that many birds flying at once.

So, if you want to try waterfowling in one of Michigan's premiere hunting locations, give Fish Point a try. It will be well worth the trip.

Just a glimpse of some of what you will see up at Fish Point. This picture was taken right at last shot

First two mallards I took from Fish Point Last year.

Here is a link to Fish Point's page on the Michigan DNR's website

1 comment:

Tim said...

Sounds like a lot of fun.