Lou Neve: The Waterfowl Wizard
What makes Lou Neve one of the top outdoorsmen in Illinois? His 50 years of hunting experience and his willingness to pass down his knowledge of the outdoors to the next generation.
Lou grew up surrounded by family members who lived to hunt and hunted to live. His father, grandfather, and uncles all taught Lou before the age of 6 the importance of shot accuracy so no animal suffers. They always stressed the importance of respecting all animals, especially animals you choose to hunt.
Nowadays, Lou lives in Macomb, Illinois and works for Heartland Coca-Cola as a Service Technician. In his free time he takes his family and close friends hunting and fishing. Those who were fortunate enough to hunt with Lou remember the countless successful duck hunts, when dinner was always brought home and a lifetime of memories were made.
Finding success in duck hunting requires a lot of experience and knowledge, often promoted by great outdoorsmen like Lou. Here are a few words of wisdom from Lou Neve for new and experienced hunters:
What one thing should every hunter have with them besides a knife?
“I feel every hunter should have good equipment and knowledge of the area they are hunting. They should also have something to start a fire with and most important, toilet paper!”
Many people do not duck hunt because they do not know where to start. What advice would you give a person in this position?
- Lou stresses the importance of finding a good mentor that is willing to teach the basics while out in the field hunting. Mentors should never take new duck hunters out in harsh and intimidating environments. Lou adds, “I personally feel this could ruin them from going into hunting further.”
- Lou advises all new duck hunters to sit and listen to ducks in their natural environment. After listening to the ducks, you should practice calling them while recording yourself. Next, listen to the recordings at home and adjust your calls until they sound exactly like the ducks in their natural environment.
- Duck hunting requires lots of equipment and Lou has some ideas to save you money. “Buy used decoys and build your decoy numbers up slowly, but do not buy cheap chest waders. Also, try to go hunting with friends or family members and share equipment.”
Do you believe duck hunting is better on a sunny calm day or a drizzly cold day with the wind?
“I prefer partly sunny and cold. My favorite time to duck hunt is the first time the lake freezes. When the lake freezes, I break a 50-yard diameter hole in the ice with my boat (using a boat pushes the broken sheets of ice under the solid ice).”
What type of duck is the hardest to get in your decoys?
“The late-season survivors. These ducks have flown from Canada and have been shot at several times on their way down. They are decoy shy and educated!” Lou explains that hunting early season for wood ducks is easier and educational for new duck hunters.
Many duck hunters from the 1970’s and 1980’s said they used coffee cans painted black as decoys. Did you ever try this?
“No, I have not but I have used car tires cut in half as goose decoys when I was hunting in a corn field. There was snow on the ground, so we got a bail of straw and scattered it on the ground to make it look like geese had scratched the ground feeding. To our surprise, it worked!”
What about duck hunting motivated you to get out of bed for all those years?
“I would say all of it. Getting in the blind before shooting hours and listening to the birds fly low in the dark sounding like jets. I also loved cooking breakfast, joking with my blind mates, and watching the day being born. I remember falling asleep in the dark and waking up to the outdoor horizon and my blind mates shooting! Duck hunting got me out of bed because of the jokes and memories made with family and friends. I remember the times we would unload a friend’s gun because he went outside the blind to pee and we would watch him miss the next group of ducks coming in!”
What is your most memorable moment hunting?
“This is a hard question because I have had so many at different stages of my life. My first is when I was 8 years old hunting with my dad. I kept badgering him to let me shoot his Belgium Browning lightweight 12 gauge. He finally got tired of listening to me and brought me over to the pond to shoot it. He throws a hedge ball on the ground and tells me to shoot it. I take his gun, line my shot up and squeeze the trigger. There I fall on my butt with the gun still in my hand.”
Lou teaching his Grandson Peanut basic hunting skills.
“Another memory was when I was 12 years old wood duck hunting with my dad. A pair flew by and my dad told me to take them. I dropped the drake. I felt pretty full of myself. My dad shot his two ducks quickly and I went through a whole box of shells and couldn’t get my second duck. He teased me all day about it. That Christmas, he had my first duck stuffed for me.”
“Later in life, my youngest daughter married Victor Voight who I took deer hunting for the first time. Victor put so much work into the hunt and I showed him everything I knew about hunting whitetails. He ended up killing an 8 point buck at 20 yards.”
Justin J. Lind
White Buffalo Outdoors