Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The early bird gets the worm, not so...





As a life-long learner, I embrace what life has to offer and love to put my thinking into action. Generally speaking in terms of great sea duck hunting, one must be set up and ready before the first crack of dawn. Now I spend many hours of my life up before dawn as a lobsterman and won't even flinch about an early morning of coffee upon a potentially great day of gunning, but I had been thinking about a theory for sea duck hunting.

Rather than set up before daylight to get the early fliers, I got thinking about the habits of the local sea ducks especially those hefty eiders and convinced myself that the tide has far more to do than the time of day. Key feeding zones are usually exposed at low water and eiders primarily feed on small shellfish in shallow water. This is how I got to watching and scouting, all I needed to do was find some key observation points, utilize a nautical chart, spend time on aerial photo internet sites, and watch. The eiders were quite predictable and I followed the feeders patterns for an entire week.

They did fly first thing in the morning, that was a given as I have spent many early mornings limiting out in no time. But I did recognize that even with that early morning pressure, many feeders would locate themselves in the same general area at the feeding zones from about two hours before low water and for about two hours flood. This would happen day after day, only about one hour later each morning...

Now this seems pretty trivial, but many species of animals function based on daylight and food availability while eider capitalizes on the level of the ocean. So I had to put this plan into action and all I needed was an opportunity to convince my good hunting buddy, Matt Diesel, to get in on the action. Let me explain...

Matt and I had planned for an early morning hunt late October, but the weather wasn't cooperating. Matt called the night before, said he'd be there, wanted to go but wanted to make sure the weather wasn't too snotty, but still wanted to go but that's how he works. He's a gunning fanatic and a great hunting partner, however he is as cautious as a spooked cat. It was at this point that I shared my game plan...

The wind was supposed to settle down and come from the southwest, the tide would be three hours ebb around 1 p.m. so we could hunt a feeding zone during the afternoon and I promised a limit. Diesel agreed and he showed up at noontime with a degree of skepticism. But I did not worry, this was going to be a great hunt...

My father jumped aboard this hunt and we launched by 12:30. At 1 o'clock we had set out a line of 40 eiders running north and south with the boat situated just northwest of the tollers. It was a bluebird sky and to be honest, not a chance at all. We loaded up and waited...

In about fifteen minutes, the drakes started moving in as we hid behind the canvas blind constructed on the Lund my father and I had acquired, painted, and rigged exclusively for sea ducks. Within two hours, we had limited out on young eiders that resemble eclipse drakes building plumage for the upcoming winter. Matt Diesel was all grins and I was elated to see my plan foster so much success...

A good habit we've been practicing since we formed Duckpower in 2005 is that we debrief and discuss all the angles about the hunt. First we discussed the weather- sunny, light southwest breeze, the tide- three hours ebb, low water at 4:03 p.m., the decoys- north/south, 40 dekes, mostly drake eiders, the action- small groups, mainly young drakes, with singles finishing out, and how these all came into play. The verdict became that with the proper preparation and execution, an effective sea duck hunt can be had...

The early bird may get the worm, but we got our limit... god love it!!!


1 comment:

Capt. Rich said...

I love the blog. Everything looks great I look forward to reading more. Well Done!

Thanks
Capt.Rich
Downeast Sea Ducks