STERLING, Colo. Duck hunters making the trek to northeastern Colorado to try their luck at Tamarack SWA often drive right by Dune Ridge SWA.
"I often wonder if they realize the gold mine property they pass by," said Don Jacobs, owner of ColoradoWaterfowl.com, a resource Web site for waterfowl hunters.
Dune Ridge SWA is a 400-acre property split down the center by the South Platte River. It has multiple backwater sloughs and plenty of riverbank.
"While Dune Ridge does not require a reservation, it seems as if hunters pass it by for larger properties," Jacobs said.
"Over the past 8 years of hunting the property, I've seen overwhelming success for ducks. For anyone looking to harvest a wood duck, this is the place."
Hunters can harvest other species at Dune Ridge too, such as teal, mallards, gadwall, widgeon and an occasional redhead.
"The morning flights are always best on the east banks, so keep the sun at your back," Jacobs said.
"Typical decoy spreads should include mainly mallards and a ½-dozen wigeon for the white as an attention-getter. During the early parts of the second split, include some teal decoys also. The sweet spot on Dune Ridge is at the middle of the property, as it will give you the most visibility up and downriver."
Hunters can walk the surrounding fields on Dune Ridge for bobwhite quail too.
For a bonus: Two more hot spots, southwest of Dune Ridge, are the Atwood (180 acres) and Overland Trail (192 acres) SWAs. These do require reservations (800-846-9453, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Reservations cannot be made more than 14 days prior to or less than 48 hours in advance of the hunt date.
Blinds are not available at these properties, but breakdowns like Avery's "Power Hunter" work well. If you build a makeshift blind, be sure to disassemble it upon your departure.
Boats are not allowed.
To get to Dune Ridge SWA, get off I-76 at the Sterling exit and go 5 miles southwest on County Road 370 to the property.
To reach Overland Trail SWA from Atwood, travel south on Highway 63 to Logan County Road 16.
Go ½-mile east on County Road 16 to the property. Atwood SWA is 3 miles southwest of the Atwood exit on Highway 6, then take County Road 29.5 a ½-mile south.
If you plan an overnight stay, check availability at the Best Western Sundowner, (125 Overland Trail St., 970-522-6265; Colonial Motel, 915 S Division Ave., 970-522-3383) or the Ramada Sterling (I-76 and E. Highway 6, 970-522-2625).
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