Cadillac, Michigan has the luxury of being located in the middle of the Mississippi Flyway. This means that many ducks and geese will migrate through the area on their way south. The Cadillac area also has the good fortune of having many lakes, ponds, and marshes for these birds to stop at on their way. The public access opportunities are extensive, so a hunter must know what to look for to better their chances at success.
What to Look For
The most important thing to look for when scouting potential spots is feeding areas. Feeding areas can vary greatly, from corn fields to lakes, but what’s important is the food. While cut corn fields are an obvious food source, some natural feed such as smartweed can be harder to identify. This weed grows in marshes throughout the area, providing excellent feed on easily accessible public land. Another easy way to find birds is by simply following them. An evening’s drive is sometimes all it takes to locate these prime spots.
Now that we know where to look for birds, the attention is now on the decoys. A common way to set up decoys is in a U shape, with the hunter sitting at the bottom of the bend. By setting up decoys in this fashion, the hunter encourages the birds to land in the middle of the spread- giving the hunter a better shot. The last thing to consider while setting up decoys is the wind. Ducks prefer to land into the wind whenever they can, so sitting with the wind at your back gives you an easy, head on shot. While calling is certainly a great tool, it is not always necessary to bring in ducks. New hunters still mastering the call can still expect to see birds with decoys alone, however, learning to work a call will increase the chances of birds finishing in your set.
In Michigan, the waterfowl season runs from the September early goose to the middle of December. The migration starts to show around the end of October, starting the prime of the season. These birds flock away from the cold temperatures of the north, gathering until our weather forces them further on their migration. For a couple of weeks, more birds arrive in the area every day. The first week of November has been historically productive, as the first major wave of migrant birds make their appearance.
More Banded Birds
Another important thing to note is that the DNR at the Carl T. Johnson center band ducks by placing a ring on their legs. In the duck hunting world, a banded duck is a rare trophy. Birds often return to familiar places, so the local banding project greatly increases a hunter’s chance to bag a banded bird. If a hunter is lucky enough to take a banded bird, the hunter should contact the DNR to report the harvest. The DNR will give you information on the birds age and the location of where the bird was banded.
The Cadillac area provides everything needed to have a successful duck hunt. With plenty of public land, including the Brandy Brook Waterfowl Area, hunters are left with plenty of choices. The area also sports great feeding locations for the birds with corn fields and marshes full of natural duck feed. The Mississippi flyway provides all the birds a hunter can handle, and the time is almost right.