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I am totally new to this and could use some suggestions on good places to hunt this year any body got any good ideas?
 

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Hello Flies4Life!
I am one die hard waterfowler and lived in Colorado for 13 years with a great amount of success. Depending on where you live and how far you are willing to drive a few places are great recommendations. First spot is just east of Greeley out by the airport. I belive it is called Minetonka but no matter what it is where the Cache La Poudre River enters the South Platte. This is public land and is hunted hard so a few tips if I may. One is go there on days there is a great big nasty cold front that day or the day or night before. This brings in new birds and they have not be educated yet that this spot is evil. Get there real early, I mean real early or don't go at all. I use to get there at around 2 or 3 am in order to be the first person there. Otherwise it is not the hunt you are hoping for. From the parking lot, walk west on the do not drive on road to where the two rivers come together. You want to set up on the Poudre (the smaller river) within 10 yards of the platte so that no body can be closer to the platte with out having to be up or down stream of you. Birds work up and down the platte but the poudre is slower and creates some great water to bring in ducks. You will need chest waders or a dog and hip waders for you. Get the birds to comit and come in to the spread so that they dump in the poudre and not the platte for easiest retrieval. Late in the year is best, I'll state why. As an example a few years ago a monster cold front came through and it was around -11 to 0 for the next 5 days. This locked the platte up to an ice sheat. But the Poudre did not freeze because the waste water treatment plant is upstream a few miles so the water is warmed up and therefore does not freeze on you. This creates one of the few places for miles that is open and therefore a duck haven. Weekdays are less crowded obviously, but no matter what, on a cold front day you will probably see other hunters so once you get there First! then right away walk some of your gear down to the spot and put out atleast a few of your deeks so that the spot is sort of claimed by you. Then go back to the truck and stay warm until the next group of hunters shows up. Now walk the rest of your gear down there and observe where the next group sets up, they will see that you are on the confluence and likely go upstream on the Poudre and pick up your scraps. Your biggest fear is that someone tries to campout on the confluence and pass shoot your birds, do not let them, just politely inform them that you were here first and for them to go up or down stream for a ways. Then as the Poudre is flowing from North to South with a north wind they will circle over the Platte and dump right into you first with no interference. The other spot that I will throw your way is north east on I-76 out to the Crook Exit. This is Tamarack state wildlife area. This unit is divided into sections which are reservable 2 weeks in advance for weekends and first come first serve for weekdays and non-reserved weekend spots. Check in time is 4 am and the drive is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Denver so get there before 4 and get ready to sign in. Each spot once reserved or selected is now yours for the day. They are about 1/4 to 1/3 mile long or more of the South Platte river. This also is best hunted later in the year once northern birds move in. Some scouting will be necessary to determine what is the best # to draw as each year the river itself changes depending on flow level and the birds moods change also. A spot that is not reserved or left for the day by the original hunter can be reserved as well. I have learned different spots by taking some long walks after a morning hunt. Each spot is a decent walk from the assigned parking spot then north to the river itself. You will want to find some slow water that has a bare sand bar near by for the geese to land on if you like to hunt honkers. Then just hunker down in the reeds or weeds on an island that has some cover and get ready to shoot. 25W has served me well in the past for geese as it is the largest spot and the furthest west. Also 21W or 22W had good spots 3 or 4 years ago, but with less water recently, it is tough to draw these wary northern birds into such small water so hope for fall rains and bigger flows for best hunting out there. Although a further drive, you do not have to fight the crowd as once a spot is yours for the day, no body can mess up your specific hunt and this is a luxury worth driving and working for. I now live in Nebraska and the spot I live for is a 1/2 mile walk and then a 150 yard wade through thigh high water and mud so work for ducks to me is nothing but part of the fun. I hope these two spots are helpful for ideas on what is readily availalbe near Denver. There are spots north of Ft Collins that are public and hunt decent. Queens SWA just north of Lamar can be red hot at times, but the drought down there has put a big hurt on available water to hunt. If you need more help with a different spot or tips on getting these places working for you or just help in general, just let me know. Although I love this site for my fishing fix while at work, if there is one thing I do more and love more than anything else in the whole world, it is duck hunting. Just got back from opening weekend 3 hours ago and had a great time with mallards and teal for supper very soon. Take care.
Craig
 

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Craig excellent report.

I have always wondered about Tamarack just hard to make a reservation in an area you don't know very well after reading your report it seems i need to take a couple days and scout that area. Wondering if you ever hunted North Sterling reservoir. I have always chose hunting that over Tamarack for the reason very little pressure birds seems to decoy alright and if you are lucky enough to catch the snow geese on the lake those jackasses skybusting stir up the ducks well into late morning and again back flying by 3pm. If you ever want to try it set up where they fill the lake and make yourself a nice tumbleweed blind you'll be amazed how many mallards love that lake.....


Fish
 

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Good words and ideas flyfishcolorado. Thanks for the props! Indeed Tamarack is well worth the effort late in the year. Just came back from Ogallala Nebraska to the Kearney area where I currently live. There was lots of nice water in the river considering recent year's flows. With this being said, there is hope that there might be some better water at Crook as well. Although scouting is a big plus, you might want to get a reservation for the opening of the second split. I would get either 5W or 25W. I'll state why. 5 6 and 7W are just north of some private ponds that are non hunted. These ponds act like a refuge for birds but they still want the river for a drink and some duck weed to snack on. They sometimes make a good show at first light but also make a good show sometimes at somewhere between 10 and 12 noon. This is when the geese filter back from the fields and start packing in the pond and some of the ducks just want to get out of the way. 25W is very long compared to the other spots and holds some nice water. Once you get to the parking spot for 25W, then continue due west along the south fence until you near the end of the section, atleast a 1/4 mile. I use a game cart to haul all my stuff. From there the water is now closer to the south fence and there is a spot where two or three different channels come together and divide off again and it seems to be a great natural funnel for birds. Go hunt the spot one day, and after your morning hunt, then spend some time walking around other spots where open. Read the regs, I believe you can walk to other spots from yours that are not taken after a certain time in the morining. You can also go back to the check in house and change your spot as well so you could start at 5W for the am and then when you are done hunting over your spread for the day, you can go walk 25W in the light. That is what I personally would do. 25W is famous for late in the year geese as well where as 5W is tough to pull in the geese because they can see and hear the monster flock just south on the pond and it is a tough draw. You must check in and out each day at Tamarack, and it is closed to duck hunting the week or two of rifle season for deer hunters which is smart and fair for all to use such a great area. Besides that, I love a good weekday hunt, even if it is a holiday because it is first come first serve and I am 30 and crazy so getting somewhere early is not a problem for me. Your approach at North Sterling sounds like a fun one and something I have done up in Wyoming northwest of Laramie. Just smelly mud, sage brush and green heads everywhere. My idea of a great morning. Of course with Wyoming you also get the complimentary 30-40 mile hour wind every day and not just some days, but c'est la guerre. Any more questions at all, just shoot em out here and I will pick em off as they come. Take care all and have fun!
Craig
 

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Best bet for good goose hunting is around Greely and Winsdor. Mostly private land and leases our high$$$$$$$$$$$$ or use a guide but they have gone up to $175.00/per gun and minimum of 2 guns
 

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I do have a blind up by Windsor and i got in real cheap $275 but I have such a hard time paying 175 for 3 birds. On the other hand it's tough to hunt public land with jackasses using your deeks to skybust. My goal this year is to just try new spots and see what i find. This weekend it's either Sterling,11 mile,Bonny or Queens all depends on what the fish are doing.....
 

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CRAIG

What a mountain of information!  :)

I'm a frequent Tamarack visiter too. It's funny because I thought I had all the great secret spots. Great points you made about the sandbars. It's so big that you can have several spots to choose from!

About walking after the morning. I love doing that. Sometimes, on the weekdays.. If there aren't much if any hunters out there, I'll fill the remainder of my unfilled limit after the decoy hunt by jump shooting.

I like the little check in station too. The running water and that dumpster is very useful. I like to stop there and pluck my birds and wash my hands before leaving.

Another spot that is real good in the area is Red Lion SWA. I like it, but only go there during the week for it is heavily pressured at times during weekends. It bugs me too when sky busters ruin it for me. I don't mind pass shooters who know the limitations of their range (and who'll know to keep a distance from a decoy hunter's setup  :)). But when there are pass shooters, there will be some sky busters. When I know they're going to be there, I usually give them their room and go elsewhere. Usually some hidden pockets on the S Platte on public lands. I like them spots that are longer hikes because with those, you usually hunt without anyone bothering.

I'll have to try N. Sterling soon too. I think the wipers should be active with this cooler weather... Errr... I think. Cast and Blast. That'll be one heck of a trip.

Good luck fellas,
wish you a successful and safe season

1eyeReD
 

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Thanks 1EyeRed!
I have heard good things about Red Lion but like you said a tough fight for a clean spot. I have hunted the Queens SWA area in the past, but with Upper Queens a mud puddle and Lower Queens dry and Nee Noshe off limits as always, it makes for about a field hunt at best or Nee Gronda's east side which can be a try. A field hunt down there in one of the blinds might be worth a shot with a wing motion decoy to draw attention from afar. Geese can be killed at Tamarack, having done it, but you must be on them when they first arrive or they get educated really really quick.
Craig
 

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I prefer honkers at Red Lion on windy days. I once had them come down to a mojo duck and a spread of about 48 plain ol' Flambeau mallard decoys. Funny thing was they were coming down onto the spread of another party about 3 ponds down, but their spread was a small goose spread of about 20 big foot decoys. Them honkers shifted directions and then started getting foot down on us. Even funnier, we (2 guys in a blind one of them being me) couldn't make our shots count and only dropped two. If we were a little better at our swings, we could have had at least 3 between the two of us.

Last year, the weather acted up while we were hunting a little bit before Thanksgiving on the Lion. Sleet and ice all over the decoys and then the powder snow that followed white capped them. To our surprise, the low flying snow geese (due to the crazy wind and sleet) swooped over to check out the little spread of white capped mallard deeks. I got lucky and plucked one out of the flock while my ladies brother pulled a double. I'm talkin 30 yd shots or less! We had flocks and flocks of like 4 to 10 snows flying really low over, but some were off to the edge of the decoys out of range so we just watched. The sleet was so bad that my lady's 20 guage pump just locked up on her. Mine locked up shortly after. I left home with half a limit of greenheads and a snow goose (my first and last til this date). Oh yeah and a severe fever followed. Sleet is killer man....
 

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WOW Craig that was a great report. It seems like you have done this a time or two.

Does anyone have any info on bird hunting around the Colorado Springs area? I have my hunter saftey card and I purchased a 12 gauge a couple of years ago and I have only been shooting clays with it. I am wondering if there are any areas around Colorado Springs that would be good for hunting like ducks or pheasants or geese or anything else? (public land would help my wallet out if you know what I mean) I am also a flytyer and am hoping to be able to save some feathers from these creatures for fishing flies and framing Salmon flies.
Thanks for any help anyone is willing to give me.
Thanks
Jim
 

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Howdy Jim!
Some tips for the Colorado Springs area it is. First off, you can head west to 11 mile and learn to sneak back bays and points for ducks if you have a pair of waders. If you have decoys and calls, then you can try to hunker down in a spot and draw em in. You will need a small game liscence, a federal and state duck stamp, and a hip # that you can get by calling a phone # and answering some questions. Without all of this you are illegal. Buy yourself some 12 gauge kent fasteel 4 shot for ducks. You can also post on the off topic "hey I am a newbie, take me duck hunting and I'll make you PB&J sandwiches" and I bet you will get some great offers. This is how I recommend learning the sport. There are lots of rules in duck hunting including an eye for bird identification. You can only shoot 5 mallards and 2 can be hens, so you have to know what that species looks like in both sexes and once you have two hens, if you see another, you can't shoot er. So having an experienced person with you will really help. Bonny Res. is east of you a few hours and Queens just north of Lamar is 2 and 1/2 hours south east. Just head east out to Kit Carson and south to Eads as it is faster then going to Pueblo and then east. There is some duck hunting to be done by John Martin but with the Arkansas low, there is tough times to find water down there. There isn't anything east of you for the first hour as those rolling pasture lands are all private. You are headed either 2 hours north to Greeley, west to 11 mile and Spinney or south east to Lamar. Pick up a 2005 waterfowl season book. Learn what areas of the state constitute as what flyway. Learn when the splits are so you know when you can and can't hunt where. Go onlin and look for waterfowl identification and learn what different ducks look like and compare that to what the regs say you are allowed to have. Put your improved choke in and buy some Faststeel and see what your gun patterns like at 25 yards. Rule # 1 in Duck Hunting over a spread of decoys. Do not move until the very last second, not your head, not your hands nothing. Those birds catch one glimps of human and they are gone. If you do not know how to call yet, then do not call to ducks as they are more likely to come to no calling then bad calling. Buy a Rich in Tone call and tape combo where you can learn the different sounds you need to make like a Hail call, a feeding chuckle and a hen quack. These things, some patience and some gas in the tank and you good sir are ready to get started. P.S. Hot coffee really helps at 2:30 in the morning. Never ever get into your spread after shooting time if you can help it as 90% of duck movement happens in the first 30 minutes of the day 90% of the time. I have gone all morning without a duck and killed a limit in 30 minutes at noon before, but most all my ducks come at first light. Hope this helps and keep asking question. I expect to see your PB&J offer really soon and if I still lived in Colorado, I would pick strawberry jelly and tell you I'll take you tomorrow.
Craig
 

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Thanks Craig, well I don't have any equipment for this sport other than the 12 gauge shotgun and it is a Mossburg 500 I think. I will stop somewhere today on my way home from work and pick up the 2005 waterfowl season book. What is the choke that you are talking about for the 12 gauge? I'm not sure if I have that or if it is already on the shotgun. The only waders I have if neoprene fishing waders. They are a dark brown color. Maybe I will need to get me some of those fancy camo waders now. As you can tell I am BRAND NEW to this sport. Thanks for the info and I will start studying that book tonight. Maybe by November I will be ready for this. If the season is still open here.
Thanks
Jim
 

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Jim

I've never seen the need for camo waders. A true story I went hunting with a guy that showed up with his box of decoys. Made his blind out of electrical conduit and wore sunglasses the whole time and can't figure out why we don't call him. So my advise read up on the regs but the best way to learn is tag along with someone. But leave the sunglasses at home.....


Fish
 

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Ya i wish we had hunting like they show on OLN normally there is a flurry in the morning for maybe an hour if you are lucky than a few singles keep u interested for the next couple hours. Than there is always the guy across the lake screaming at his dog and blowing the damn whistle. Not to mention the guy that stays just far enough off your decoys to get a good passing shot as you are working ducks in. Hell I use to go to Walden for opening day I'm guessing there is less shooting in Iraq. One opener i had a guy over my shoulder drop 2 ducks into my blind. This is why I'm going to just check out new spots hopefully find one or 2 that will be fun without all the damn idiots out there. When done right it's a hell of a lot of fun. Something about sitting there with your buddies just giving each other hell that makes the 6 mile hike through waist high mud half way doable. I am a flyfisher first but come October I do look forward to a morning in the blind.... I'm heading just west of you this weekend I'll let you know how it goes maybe we can find a weekday to sneak up there and I'll show ya first hand how to miss a duck... Gawd I can't shoot worth a damn....


Fish
 

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Any property along I-25 should do you good for geese...i used to hunt with some friends on a lease outside of Ft Collins (east of the Budwieser plant) and did well, along with another small property near Erie. Places to hunt are getting far and few between now though with all of the new construction going on.

As far as public places for ducks....some of the SWA along the south platte used to be good...if you are willing to drive for a bit. there was usually plenty of good pass shooting to be had, along with some jump shooting if you get there early and walk the river. i used to also hunt ducks out at jackson and empire reservoirs, but bring some decoys and be prepared to be sitting in the mud in a blind (the water levels drop pretty good in the winter time)
 

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Hi Fish, I hope you get something this weekend. I would diffenately be up for a little trip to the mountains. Even if if is just to observe. That would be great. Yeah I'm a flyfisherman and flytyer but I've always wanted to shoot something. ;D So I thought this would be a great excuse to get into hunting.
Thanks for all the info guys. Oh and by the way I did pick up my book lastnight. I will be reading some of it at lunch today I think.
Thanks
Jim
 
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