Duck Hunting - Lake Oconee

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Hey everyone, new to this forum and wanted to ask some questions. I have hunted quail and wanted to start duck hunting this winter at lake Oconee, where I have a house and a 16 foot duck/jon boat. I wanted to put this out there to ask for advice about the boat and anything I need to know, and what else I would need to do this. Super excited to try it out but just not sure how to get started. If you have any suggestions for duck hunting in general or about this specific lake please help me out. Thanks!
 
Hey everyone, new to this forum and wanted to ask some questions. I have hunted quail and wanted to start duck hunting this winter at lake Oconee, where I have a house and a 16 foot duck/jon boat. I wanted to put this out there to ask for advice about the boat and anything I need to know, and what else I would need to do this. Super excited to try it out but just not sure how to get started. If you have any suggestions for duck hunting in general or about this specific lake please help me out. Thanks!
You most likely won’t get any help about the specific lake, but your boat should be fine. I was on the lake in a 12 foot Jon. Don’t set up too close to others, scout and have a plan a,b,c,d,e,f. Oconee is pressured a lot.
 
Here would be my recommendation. I wouldn't go spend a bunch of money on anything until I decided it was something I really wanted to do. Go get some decent waders, you have a boat, and I assume a shotgun. Buy a 1/2 dozen to a dozen ringneck decoys, and maybe a half dozen gadwall decoys. You could probably get buy with hot buy mallards instead, but everybody and the brother hunts over mallard decoys in Georgia. There aren't that many mallards in Georgia, especially on pubic land, so I typically avoid mallard decoys. If you don't know how to rig them up watch youtube, but since you are hunting a lake make sure you rig them so you can set them way deeper than a foot or two. You will be hunting a lake and not an ankle deep rice field, so rig accordingly. Get yourself a good pair of binoculars, as that will probably be one of the most important tools you will need hunting a public lake. The afternoon before you want to hunt, ride around the lake and I mean all over it. Use your binoculars and glass the backs of coves, blow throughs, anywhere you think you could possibly see a duck. If you see some ducks, don't ride up into the middle of them like a banshee running them up all over the place. Leave them alone and go find some more. Every time you find ducks, note how many and how accessible they are. If there are a bunch in one spot but there is no way to really to get close or access the spot they are in, you are better off going somewhere else with fewer birds that are siting in a spot you can set up to shoot. The most important thing for a beginner is to learn to set up yourself and the decoys in the spot you see them sitting. If you do that you don't need very many decoys. Don't set up 200 yards away and think you are going to call them in with a hail call when they fly buy. In fact, don't even buy a duck call. You don't need one in Georgia, and I would recommend not getting one until you get the hang of duck hunting and eventually move on to hunting in a flyway somewhere that you will actually need one. If you stick with it long enough that day will come eventually. Anyway, once you find some ducks in a spot you think you can actually set up on, figure out how to best conceal yourself. You don't have to have a souped up blind as I have killed a pile of duck. laying in the bottom of a boat covered in limbs. It doesn't have to be fancy, but don't just hunt out of an open boat or standing in the middle of the lake. Conceal yourself very well in some form or fashion. Figure out how you are going to conceal yourself that afternoon and night, not the next morning, so if you need limbs or brush go ahead and get it before you head out. Go back the next morning with your plan, set you decoys up in the spot you saw the birds sitting, and set you boat or blind in whatever spot you feel you can best conceal it. Birds will typically try to light into the wind, so consider that when you set up you decoys in relation to where you are sitting. Hopefully this is a weekday and no one pulls up on top of you 10 minutes before legal shooting light. Do that and you will have a decent shot and at least getting to shoot at something.

If you will learn to scout, find birds, and then set up on that spot, you will kill some ducks. A lot of the other stuff will come with time and experience, but a huge part of being successful on public water is putting in the leg work to find the birds first, and then actually going hunting second. A lot of people due to laziness, lack of time, or whatever reason, like to show up blind and hunt, but you won't be very successful doing that.

In addition, before you go, start learning what different ducks look like. The LeMaster method book off of amazon is a good tool for a newbie to take to identify ducks, especially any you have killed. Look at pictures, watching youtube videos, and just time in the field will help a lot with that. Sorry I was long winded, but I hope that helps some. If you are looking to get into a sport where you just show up and kill ducks, then public land waterfowling on Oconee probably isn't for you. Killing ducks on public water isn't easy, and it is a lot harder now with all the people than it was 20 years ago.
 
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What he said. He was basically kind enough to take you through public land/lake hunting in GA. Multitudes of hunters doing their best rendition of a high ball (which sounds like a kazoo) at that big flock of mallards (cormorants), sky busting the mallards (cormorants), maybe even winging one and toting it to the ramp at dyers to show off and tote back to Athens to prove to their brah's that watching duck dynasty and sporting a drake decal has really paid off. In all seriousness most public land in GA is very low in waterfowl activity. Are there ducks, absolutely, but you have to put in a lot of miles on the road, water, and scout more then you hunt to harvest any decent mixed bags. I cut my teeth duck hunting on Oconee many moons ago and anyone here that has hunted it a lot would tell you it is tough. I was fortunate because I had a couple of guys that knew what they were doing and were willing to help teach me the basics, etiquette, and unwritten rules of waterfowling. With hard work through scouting, keeping your calls in your jacket, and concealment you can kill ducks in GA. Good luck, but most of all be safe.
 
Here would be my recommendation. I wouldn't go spend a bunco money on anything until I decided it was something I really wanted to do. Get some decent waders, you have a boat, and I assume a shotgun. Buy a 1/2 dozen to a dozen ringneck decoys, and maybe a half dozen gadwall decoys. You could probably get buy with hot buy mallards instead, but everybody and the brother hunts over mallard decoys in Georgia. There aren't that many mallards in Georgia, especially on pubic land, so I typically avoid mallard decoys. If you don't know how to rig them up watch youtube, but since you are hunting a lake make sure you rig them so you can set them way deeper than a foot or two. You will be hunting a lake and not an ankle deep rice field, so rig accordingly. Get yourself a good pair of binoculars, as that will probably be one of the most important tools you will need hunting a public lake. The afternoon before you want to hunt, ride around the lake and I mean all over it. Use your binoculars and glass the backs of coves, blow throughs, anywhere you think you could possibly see a duck. If you see some ducks, don't ride up into the middle of them like a banshee running them up all over the place. Leave them alone and go find some more. Every time you find ducks note how many and how accessible they are. If they are a bunch in one spot, but there is no way to really to get close or access the spot they are in, you are better off going somewhere else with fewer birds that are siting in a spot you can set up to shoot. The most important thing for a beginner is to learn to set up you and the decoys in the spot you see them sitting. If you do that you don't need very many decoys. Don't set up 200 yards away and think you are going to call them in with a hail call when they fly buy. In fact, don't even buy a duck call. You don't need one in Georgia, and I would recommend not getting one until you get the hang of duck hunting, and eventually move on to hunting in a flyway somewhere that you will actually need one. If you stick with it long enough that day will come eventually. Anyway, once you find some ducks in a spot you think you can actually set up on, figure out how to best conceal yourself. You don't have to have a super up blind as I have killed a pile of duck. laying in the bottom of a boat covered in limbs. It doesn't have to be fancy, but don't just hunt out of an open boat or standing in the middle of the lake. Conceal yourself very well in some form or fashion. Figure out how you are going to conceal yourself that afternoon and night, not the next morning, so if you need limbs or brush ahead and get it. Go back the next morning with your plan, set you decoys up in the spot you saw the birds sitting and set you boat or blind in whatever spot you fill you can best conceal it. Birds will typically try to light into the wind, so consider that when you set up you decoys into relation to where you are sitting. Hopefully this is a weekday, and not one pulls up on top of you 10 minutes before legal shooting light. Do that and you will have a decent shot and at least getting a shoot at something.
If you will learn to scout, find birds, and then set up on that spot you will kill some ducks. A lot of the other stuff will come with time and experience, but a huge part of being successful on public waters putting in the leg work to find the birds first, and then actually going hunting second. A lot of people due to laziness, lack of time, or whatever reason, like to show up blind and hunt, but you won't be very successful doing that.

In addition, before you go start learning what different ducks look like. The LeMaster method book off of amazon is a good tool for a newbie to take to identify ducks, especially any you have killed. looking at pictures, hating youtube videos, and just time in the filed will help a lot with that. Sorry I was long winded, but I hope that helps some. If you are looking to get into a sport where you just show up and kill ducks, then public land waterfowling on Oconee probably isn't for you. Killing ducks on public water isn't easy, and it is a lot harder now with all the people than it was 20 years ago.
Best advice you will probably ever receive on this forum.
 
All of the answers you have gotten are very accurate. Scouting and respecting your fellow hunters cannot be emphasized enough. Something that I have seen many new waterfowlers do, specifically some of my friends who have gotten into the sport recently, is hunting in an area that looks 'ducky' without having seen birds there while scouting. If you do not see ducks in it while scouting, it doesn't much matter how 'ducky' it looks. It may be a great spot to keep in mind for future scouting trips, however no sense in hunting it if its not holding birds at that time. Best of luck!
 
If I had a house on Lake Oconee I would definitely scheduled my hunts during the week if at all possible.

A lot of the action is up the rivers, where there are sloughs and timber, but they get hunted hard and you have to get there early, real early to hold a spot.

Goose hunting can be real good - mostly learning to go where the geese are (or want to go). Still should go during the week. Seems like everyone is always complaining about the "other guys" skybusting, but on Lake Oconee you will see some truly extraordinary skybusting on geese. "Run and gun" is a common goose hunting technique on Lake Oconee.

A cormorant isn't safe flying the length of Lake Oconee in the winter.

Make sure you are aware of the distance limitations structures. With due respect to present companies, some of the homeowners resent you shooting their pets, no matter how far away you are.

Also, you may know this, but there is a setback all around the lake, you can anchor, build a blind, etc. as long as you observe the safety zones. Years ago a buddy on mine set up on a mudflat that extended out from the shore. Homeowner tried to chase him off, then he called the law, law showed up, explained to the homeowner the Ga. law on harassing hunters, and asked the homeowner did he want to carry on.

As noted above, if I lived on the lake and had a boat like yours, I would spend a lot of time putt putting around and just looking (or make it a 2fer - fish and scout.} With the Lake from HWY 278 to the dam being mostly developed. you have to accept that any hot spot you find, some one else knows about too.

Check out Oconee WMA. Your boat is irrelevant, but there can be some decent duck hunting there.

Cold fronts in the winter are the key.
 

Dub

Top Chef
Here would be my recommendation. I wouldn't go spend a bunch of money on anything until I decided it was something I really wanted to do. Go get some decent waders, you have a boat, and I assume a shotgun. Buy a 1/2 dozen to a dozen ringneck decoys, and maybe a half dozen gadwall decoys. You could probably get buy with hot buy mallards instead, but everybody and the brother hunts over mallard decoys in Georgia. There aren't that many mallards in Georgia, especially on pubic land, so I typically avoid mallard decoys. If you don't know how to rig them up watch youtube, but since you are hunting a lake make sure you rig them so you can set them way deeper than a foot or two. You will be hunting a lake and not an ankle deep rice field, so rig accordingly. Get yourself a good pair of binoculars, as that will probably be one of the most important tools you will need hunting a public lake. The afternoon before you want to hunt, ride around the lake and I mean all over it. Use your binoculars and glass the backs of coves, blow throughs, anywhere you think you could possibly see a duck. If you see some ducks, don't ride up into the middle of them like a banshee running them up all over the place. Leave them alone and go find some more. Every time you find ducks, note how many and how accessible they are. If there are a bunch in one spot but there is no way to really to get close or access the spot they are in, you are better off going somewhere else with fewer birds that are siting in a spot you can set up to shoot. The most important thing for a beginner is to learn to set up yourself and the decoys in the spot you see them sitting. If you do that you don't need very many decoys. Don't set up 200 yards away and think you are going to call them in with a hail call when they fly buy. In fact, don't even buy a duck call. You don't need one in Georgia, and I would recommend not getting one until you get the hang of duck hunting and eventually move on to hunting in a flyway somewhere that you will actually need one. If you stick with it long enough that day will come eventually. Anyway, once you find some ducks in a spot you think you can actually set up on, figure out how to best conceal yourself. You don't have to have a souped up blind as I have killed a pile of duck. laying in the bottom of a boat covered in limbs. It doesn't have to be fancy, but don't just hunt out of an open boat or standing in the middle of the lake. Conceal yourself very well in some form or fashion. Figure out how you are going to conceal yourself that afternoon and night, not the next morning, so if you need limbs or brush go ahead and get it before you head out. Go back the next morning with your plan, set you decoys up in the spot you saw the birds sitting, and set you boat or blind in whatever spot you feel you can best conceal it. Birds will typically try to light into the wind, so consider that when you set up you decoys in relation to where you are sitting. Hopefully this is a weekday and no one pulls up on top of you 10 minutes before legal shooting light. Do that and you will have a decent shot and at least getting to shoot at something.

If you will learn to scout, find birds, and then set up on that spot, you will kill some ducks. A lot of the other stuff will come with time and experience, but a huge part of being successful on public water is putting in the leg work to find the birds first, and then actually going hunting second. A lot of people due to laziness, lack of time, or whatever reason, like to show up blind and hunt, but you won't be very successful doing that.

In addition, before you go, start learning what different ducks look like. The LeMaster method book off of amazon is a good tool for a newbie to take to identify ducks, especially any you have killed. Look at pictures, watching youtube videos, and just time in the field will help a lot with that. Sorry I was long winded, but I hope that helps some. If you are looking to get into a sport where you just show up and kill ducks, then public land waterfowling on Oconee probably isn't for you. Killing ducks on public water isn't easy, and it is a lot harder now with all the people than it was 20 years ago.

Well, it’s been a week and no reply or thanks from the OP.

I just wanted to say I appreciated your response. Thank you for taking the time to provide some great advice.
 

Miguel Cervantes

GON Severe Weatherman
Not an ounce of bad advice in the previous posts.

My best advice for you is to befriend a duck hunter that is familiar with chasing ducks in Ga. Learning it on your own can be one of the most frustrating, discouraging things you can do. You'll learn more in one trip with a buddy that is experienced with it than you will in two years trying to figure it out on your own.

By the time ducks reach Ga they are skittish and very wary. Overhanging Oak Trees that are dropping acorns can be a good spot to catch a woody pair or three. Occasionally a pair of hooded mergensers will drop in nearby too. Good for mounting, but not so much for eating. Bluebird clear skies are tough. Low hanging cloudy days are best.

Good luck in your new venture.
 
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