As the clock ticks down the final seconds, my Franchi 612 is loaded with number two Faststeel and we both silently wait for the first birds to decoy. I don’t have to wait long when a group of three white wing scoters swing in to take a closer look at the spread. Two shots ring out from the back of the boat and one of the white wings hits the water. My brother flashes me a quick smirk and I know that it is now officially game on! The early morning brings opportunity after opportunity of nice pass shooting for scoter and buffle heads and as the morning progresses the flocks of eiders begins to arrive. Before long we have singles and groups ranging up to 50 eiders flying by the boat and landing in the decoys. It is sometimes difficult to make sure that you pick and stay on a specific target in the larger flocks and experience has taught us that the smaller groups of fewer than 10 birds allow more ethical shooting and there is much less risk of injuring birds not centered in your shot pattern.
It is important in these situations that you choose your set-up points in natural funnels. Location, location, location it is amazing that 100 yards further to the right and we may have went the whole day without a single shot at a buffle head. However, experience in this bay has taught us that certain specific areas will produce more opportunities to harvest birds than others.
The morning progresses as planned and though the weather is cold it is far from unmanageable and we enjoy some good shooting and share a bag of eider jerky and a large thermos of steaming hot black coffee. As the day’s limit of birds begin to near were begin to slowly make plans to begin the laborious chore of disassembling the blind, picking up anchor lines and stowing decoys. Suddenly, a pair of Eiders flies straight into the decoys and grabbing the Franchi I manage to get off a quick shot and drop the back bird a beautiful hen. Motoring out from behind a protected rock shelf we glide out into the turbid water and I ready the net in preparation of collecting the final bird of the day. With a quick sweeping motion the bird is recovered and I have difficulty maintaining my composure as I note that the bird is banded! Later, as I enter the information from the tag over the provided 800 number I am informed that the band belonged to a two year old female eider that had been tagged on Petite Mahan and had probably spent much of its life cruising the shores and shoals of Downeast Maine.
We complete the task of packing up decoys and cruise back to the crowded landing. Many other sea duck hunters and guides are there clamoring about the days hunt and many of the guided clients are huddled in the nearby trucks shivering and looking half frozen. The Atlantic is an extremely frigid place during prime sea duck season and it always amazes me that despite warnings by the experienced sea duck guides how clients still arrive inappropriately dressed.
The drive home is filled with excitement and Ozzy and Korn blast freely over the trucks stereo as we begin planning for next season’s duck camp. The gregarious nature of most waterfowlers make them pleasant people to be around so if you are looking for good company and the promise of an excellent hunt do not waiver but instead join the growing ranks of the truly converted and organize your first annual “Duck Camp”.