TALKING TO THEM Waterfowl hunter Terry MacKillop calls to a group of Canada geese from a blind on the South Shore of Houghton Lake last week. Located about 75 feet from hunting partner Matt Peterson’s lakefront home, the blind’s proximity allows for quick hunts anytime during the day. The crappier the weather, the better the duck hunting. This maxim has been the mantra for duck hunters since before the shotgun. But just because it’s cold and windy and the four-foot waves are accompanied by sleet doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable.
Instead of fighting his way out onto Houghton Lake’s Middle Grounds to set up his decoys, Matt Peterson and his hunting partner Terry MacKillop simply stroll around 75 feet down the shoreline from Peterson’s lake front home in Roscommon Township, and take their seats in a blind built into a clump of brush on the shoreline.
MOSTLY MALLARDS A clear Friday morning produced these three mallards for MacKillop (left) and Peterson. MacKillop said around 90% of the ducks they see from the blind are mallards. (Below, right) MacKillop holds a drake bufflehead he bagged as the clouds moved in around noon. The hunters said that as the season progresses, a wide variety of ducks begin to come through, including redheads, canvass backs and blue bills. Peterson said they set out their decoys at around 6:30 a.m. and that they are usually done hunting between 10 a.m. and noon. MacKillop said around 90% of the ducks they bag are mallards, although they tend to see wood ducks later in the day. He said that as the season progresses a wide range of ducks make their yearly appearance, as well as a fair amount of Canada geese.
Along with dressing warmly, Peterson said he and MacKillop also frequently enjoy a hot breakfast brought right to the blind by his wife Tina during their morning hunts.
CONVENIENT LOCATION Peterson and MacKillop settle into their blind on the shoreline about 75 feet west of Peterson’s home. Peterson had to get permission from all the homeowners within 450 feet of the blind in order for it to be legal to hunt.
PUTTING OUT THEIR SPREAD MacKillop and Peterson place their spread of decoys about 50 yards out in front of their blind on Houghton Lake’s South Shore Friday. Peterson said the area has been productive, even on “blue bird” days, producing mallards, Canada geese, wood ducks and a variety of other ducks.