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Duck Hunting on the Mud Flats of Utah's Great Salt Lake

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November 20, 2013

Duck Hunting on the Mud Flats of Utah's Great Salt Lake

By Phil Bourjaily

A traditional coffin blind hunt on Utah’s Great Salt Lake is as close as you’ll come to duck hunting on Mars — if Mars had water and thousands of ducks. I got to experience it last week and it was one of the coolest duck hunts I have ever been on.

There are miles of mud flats around the lake with a bottom that is almost concrete-hard and covered by 2-8 inches of water. That’s it. There’s no vegetation except some algae that floats in the water and no living creatures except brine shrimp. There’s a hilly, rocky shoreline. It's barren. We saw several rafts of countless thousands of ducks as we ran out in airboats.

Once in our spot, which frankly looked no different than any other spot out there, we set 300-500 homemade black silhouette duck decoys. The oldtimers used sheet metal decoys when they started hunting like this in the 40s. Now the decoys are coroplast. When stuck close together, they look like a raft of ducks. We threw out a bunch of conventional decoys in front of those. Then we lay in coffin blinds among the decoys.

It looks improbable but it works. We shot about half and half green wing teal (one of my very favorite ducks) and shovelers (not so much – I gave them a pass, and I passed on the lone goldeneye that swung the spread, too). There is literally no place for a crippled duck to hide, and the few birds we sailed were rounded up by the Labs on duty.

The hunt offered several of my favorite features: shallow water, a hard bottom to walk on and no lost ducks. Some might say the area lacks in scenery, but it was the total lack of scenery that made it memorable for me. I would do it every day if I lived in Utah. If you are ever in the Salt Lake City area and want to try it, Rob Friedel is a good hunter, a nice guy, and has very reasonable pricces. Otherwise, it’s a BYOAB (Bring Your Own Air Boat) deal.

Comments (9)

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from HogBlog wrote 21 weeks 4 days ago

Always thought about hunting out there whenever I drove through SLC. I sort of figured the bottom was some of that "suck you straight down to hell" mud. Hearing that it's nice and hard really makes me wish I'd taken a couple of extra days to get out there and get after it.

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from springerman3 wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Too think you passed on a guided grouse hunt in Wisconsin for this ....... Looks like fun even though I am not a duck hunter :)

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from keithjoyner wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

That's where my brother and I hunted in high school and college. We lived in Salt Lake City. We would backpack out of the marshes and onto the flats. Got LOTS of geese out there, nice ducks, and beautiful, huge swans (when we were lucky enough to draw a permit). The other hunters that stayed in the marshes gave us the nick name of the "goose brothers." Those were the days! Back then (late '50s and early '60s) no one used flags to attract birds, so my brother invented a stupid looking, arm flapping "goose dance." Once the birds turned toward us, he'd jump into what passed as a blind (mostly us lying flat on a dry spot with very short grass). We'd know it was cold when our spit would pop before it hit the ground. Man we had fun!

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Good to know! Looks like a great hunt. And I share your enthusiasm for the Greenwing Teal -- I have a nice one on my wall at home.

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from jamber1981 wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

I NEED YOUR HELP! :) My husband is entered in a Buck Photo Contest through a local radio station and is currently in 2nd place!!! He needs votes... I really would love for him to win this because this deer was his very first deer ever. I think that it would make his first buck that much more AWESOME!!!! Please spread the word! You are allowed to vote every couple of hours until DECEMBER 2nd!

www.mykisscountry937.com ---enter big buck in search engine on that site and sign up to vote for him PLEASE! His name is James Pottorff
Thank you so very much!

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from wittsec wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Living in Las Vegas duck hunting isn't big on our list of things to do, most of the pigeons are in the casinos. Nice to see there is a place not to far away with good duck hunting.

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

I know a Ceasar Guerini has an O/U MAXUS model. Can there be other Maxus model mfgers?

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from philbourjaily wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Dangle -- Guerini has a "Maxum" and a "Magnus" but no "Maxus." Browning has the "Maxus."It confuses me, too, sometimes.

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

AGH, thanks for the clarification. I often have Magnus mental lapses. :)

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from HogBlog wrote 21 weeks 4 days ago

Always thought about hunting out there whenever I drove through SLC. I sort of figured the bottom was some of that "suck you straight down to hell" mud. Hearing that it's nice and hard really makes me wish I'd taken a couple of extra days to get out there and get after it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Too think you passed on a guided grouse hunt in Wisconsin for this ....... Looks like fun even though I am not a duck hunter :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from keithjoyner wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

That's where my brother and I hunted in high school and college. We lived in Salt Lake City. We would backpack out of the marshes and onto the flats. Got LOTS of geese out there, nice ducks, and beautiful, huge swans (when we were lucky enough to draw a permit). The other hunters that stayed in the marshes gave us the nick name of the "goose brothers." Those were the days! Back then (late '50s and early '60s) no one used flags to attract birds, so my brother invented a stupid looking, arm flapping "goose dance." Once the birds turned toward us, he'd jump into what passed as a blind (mostly us lying flat on a dry spot with very short grass). We'd know it was cold when our spit would pop before it hit the ground. Man we had fun!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Good to know! Looks like a great hunt. And I share your enthusiasm for the Greenwing Teal -- I have a nice one on my wall at home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamber1981 wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

I NEED YOUR HELP! :) My husband is entered in a Buck Photo Contest through a local radio station and is currently in 2nd place!!! He needs votes... I really would love for him to win this because this deer was his very first deer ever. I think that it would make his first buck that much more AWESOME!!!! Please spread the word! You are allowed to vote every couple of hours until DECEMBER 2nd!

www.mykisscountry937.com ---enter big buck in search engine on that site and sign up to vote for him PLEASE! His name is James Pottorff
Thank you so very much!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Living in Las Vegas duck hunting isn't big on our list of things to do, most of the pigeons are in the casinos. Nice to see there is a place not to far away with good duck hunting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

I know a Ceasar Guerini has an O/U MAXUS model. Can there be other Maxus model mfgers?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 21 weeks 3 days ago

Dangle -- Guerini has a "Maxum" and a "Magnus" but no "Maxus." Browning has the "Maxus."It confuses me, too, sometimes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 2 days ago

AGH, thanks for the clarification. I often have Magnus mental lapses. :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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