Northeast? or Northwest?

Discussion in 'Diver Hunters Forum' started by Diver731, Dec 30, 2003.

  1. Diver731

    Diver731 Elite Refuge Member

    Jun 29, 2003
    Midwest US
    If a guy who lived smack dab in the middle of this great nation of ours wanted to go on a sea duck hunt, Where?
    I would like to maybe see some posts from gunners on both shores and shooters who may have traveled there in the last couple of years.
    Not taking into consideration travel costs or time i just want some ideas on what to think about.
    Thanks :confused:
  2. wstober

    wstober Senior Refuge Member

    Dec 7, 2003
    Mebane, NC
    East Coast is Great for numbers of Eider (Common subspecies), Scoter, and Oldsquaw (Longtails). If you include some regular duck shooting you have common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, and Blackducks.

    West Coast (haven't been there yet, but someday) has Eider (Pacific subspecies), Scoter, Oldsquaw, & Harliquins. With ducks you have both species of Goldeneye and I believe Greater Scaup (Not lessers).

    East Coast is easily Maine if you don't want to travel to Canada. However all of those species can be shot throughout Coastal New England.

    West Cost I believe is a trip to Alaska for everything but Washington is short just the eider. I'm sure someone from the west coast will post to confirm this. If you go to Alaska you also increase your chances of getting a King Eider as well as a Northern subspecies of Eider. Both of which can be shot in Maine if you have any luck in playing the lottery. :) Also I believe last I checked (this could be wrong) but Alaska had a 4 bird bag for non-residents on Seaducks.

    Now the answer to your question: BOTH! Each have their own unique attributes.
  3. B52-man

    B52-man Elite Refuge Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    Couldn't have said it better myself.
  4. pintail21

    pintail21 Elite Refuge Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    Richland, Washington/ Moscow, Idaho
    check out the WA forum, theres a couple die-hard salt shooters there. I'd say west coast tho:)
  5. Thor Nottus

    Thor Nottus Guest

    one East Coast...Bill Wasson's MAINE SEA DUCKS....and the other West Coast...Dave Drewery of PENNISULA SPORTSMAN......

    Bill's an old friend of mine that I have hunted with for the last 10 years and Dave's a good friend that I hunt with when he doesn't have bookings....

    Have hunted with both of them this year.....

    Heres what you'll find......

    East Coast......and I'm talking MAINE here and recognize that things will change somewhat as you head South....

    Lots of Common Eiders...if sub-species matters to you then the vast majority will be Somateria mollisima dresseri with the rare bird being S.m.borealis. You'll have to be good to tell the difference, which is confined to bill shape and color, but to me thats one of the attractions of hunting Maine rather than further South.

    The East Coast splits SEA DUCKS out from the regular Duck Limit and allows SEVEN Sea Ducks a day and an additional FIVE Regular Ducks. (They also allow a seperate MErganser limit of FIVE per day).


    The Eider limit is FIVE with a TOTAL Sea Duck limit of SEVEN.

    Surf Scoters are common in the early season with numbers dropping as the season progresses. Scoters are much more common in the bag the further South you go.

    Black Scoters...see above....

    Whitewing Scoters....rare in Maine...I've seen less than a dozen in the 10 trips I've made there..

    The Scoter limit is FOUR, (any combination), and is part of the Sea Duck limit.

    Old Squaw...very common...part of the Sea Duck limit with no restrictions on number. might well see a Harlequin while hunting but they are CLOSED.

    King Eider....Extremely rare...most years less than a half dozen Kings are reported in Maine. I know of TWO that have been taken so far this year, one of those off of the same ledge that I had shot just three days prior....If you go to Maine, or anywhere in New England and kill a King go immediately to a convienance store and buy a Lotto Ticket.


    Common Goldeneye....frequent in the bag IF the fresh water inland is frozen. No restricitions on bag.

    Black Duck.....Limit ONE per day and they are very common. When I'm in Maine I target a Black a day with about half of those coming off of the offshore reefs as they pass over the Eider rigs and the rest coming from specific Black Duck set ups either before or after an Eidre hunt. many as stars in the sky. They are everywhere and will be in any rig of decoys that you set up. No restrictions on number.

    Mallards....sadly they have the damn things. You won't have to deal with them unless you are set up for Blacks. No restrictions on numbers in the bag.

    Teal/Ringnecks/Scaup/Wood Ducks....any hunt to Maine when the Eiders are PRIME will be too late for these birds.


    Red Breasted....this is the one that you will see and they wilol be everywhere...This is the best place that I know of if you are looking for a PRIME Red Breasted Drake for a mount.

    Common/Hooded...fresh water and gone when the lakes freeze

    Bill can put you on everyone of the birds above and you'll enjoy gunning over a rig of hand made decoys.

    Okay thats MAINE....the further South you go the fewer Eiders you will find but the number of Scoters increases. By the time you get to Maryland there are no Eiders but you find excellent numbers of Black and Surf Scoters, (Whitewings remain scarce). Old Sqauw numbers remain good and other species start to show up as well including good numbers of Brant the further South you go.

    WEST COAST--excluding Alaska.....

    The West Coast does not split their limits so SEA DUCKS are part of the total limit which was SEVEN this year.

    Harlequins...The main reason people come to Washington. Go with the right Guide, and DAve is THE RIGHT GUIDE out here, and this bird is all but guarunteed. Limit is ONE PER DAY ONE IN POSSESION which equates to ONE per trip.

    SCOTERS...all three species are regular here with Surf's the most common, followed by Whitewings in excellent numbers and with good numbers of Blacks showing up in the later part of the season. Limit is FOUR in any combination.

    Common and Barrows Goldeneyes...Extremely common with opportunities to take mixed limits of both. No restrictions on numbers in the bag. Barrow's Goldeneyes are probably the second most sought after bird by the people that come out to hunt. THey rarely leave unsatisfied.

    Old Sqauw....Very common but not easily hunted...Dave is the only person that I know that Guides on the West COast that actually hunts them over decoys rather than taking them with the questionable technique of "motor sculling".

    Buffleheads....see same above...

    Greater Scaup...Common and available in some areas in combination with the birds above. Limit is FOUR.

    Lesser Scaup...not as regular as the Greaters but they are here and available in the same areas as the Greaters. Limit is Four Scaup TOTAL.

    Mergansers....ALL three specires are common here and can be targeted if you want them for your collection. No special limit they are part of the regular limit. No restricitions except for the Hooded which is one per day.

    Eiders...don't expect Eiders of ANY species in Washington. In 15 years of hunting Sea Ducks I've never seen one, know one person that has taken a King in waters that I hunt, and there have been THREE reported by the bird watchers of the State during those fiteen years. Should you come to Washington and kill an Eider go immediately to a convienance store and buy a LOOT ticket...then call everyone one that you know in every other State and buy one there as well.

    Other Ducks...Pintail, Wigeon, Mallards, Cans...etc. etc. are always possible in the bag while Sea Duck gunning in Washington and can be targeted if you desired.

    This is getting long so I'm going to skip Alaska unless someone wants to know specifically except for the following...

    Alaska is far more expensive to hunt than is the NW.

    Late in the winter when the birds are PRIME you have about 5 hours total of shooting light.

    The chances of being "weathered out" in Alaska are much higher than in the NW.

    Alaska has placed heavy restrictions on Sea Ducks for non-residents in an attempt to stop Taxidermists from raping the resourse.

    Eiders are the ONLy reason to go to Alaska over the NW and they are not guarunteed there by any means. As well most Eiders gunned in Alaska are taken by the highly questionable technique of Motor Drifting....a good way to ensure that you get your bird BUT one of questionable legal and ethical means. If you want to shoot your King Eider from the bow of a moving 30 foot fishing boat then they can sure put you on it. You WON'T shoot one over decoys. Very few Common Eider are killed by the few Outfitters in Alaska that target Sea Ducks.


    WEATHER......late season in Washington is typically warmer, although wetter, than it will be in Maine....Expect Snow and below freezing in Maine and Rain and above freezing in the NW but recognize that ANYTHING can happen in either place.

    Be happy to expand on any of the above either here or via PRIVATE e-mail....

    Good luck on your decision.....

  6. seaduckhunt

    seaduckhunt Elite Refuge Member

    Mar 11, 2000
    Sea duck hunting New England, MA, RI
    In Cape Cod, Mass. where I hunt, all mentioned about about Maine applies here as well, but with a few differences.

    Here along with the Eiders, oldsquaws, scoters (all 3), we have a great abundance of Brant, thousands in fact, that stay for the winter, along with Greater and lesser Scaup as well as Canvasbacks (and it's not too late for these birds). Being several hours south of Maine, we have a warmer weather pattern. In fact, as they were getting hammered with snow, we only had rain... ducks and gunner enjoyed it much better. In fact, the Cape tends to be a destination for many of the mentioned ducks, to winter....

    Also, with the strong Nor' Easters we had, many of the seaducks have migrated south and are now rafting in great numbers off Cape Cod Bay...

    But, that's weather, and it changes year to year....

    As everyone have mentioned, both places offer unique features, you just need to make a choice on what ducks you want to target and harvest....

    WSTOBER nailed it, excellent post.....


  7. jfe

    jfe Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    ... and this concludes our infomercial for Penninsula Sportsman...

    Contrary to what has been posted, Penninsula is not the only guide in Washington and he is certainly not the only one that targets individual species OVER DECOYS.

    Diver731, if you choose to go East or West, you will not be sorry. Only know that going one direction will fuel your fire to go the opposite direction the next time. Do your homework, find several guides in the area that you want to hunt and talk to them -- all of them. Then you can make your own decision based on your expectations.
  8. Thor Nottus

    Thor Nottus Guest

    Dave is not the ONLY Guide in the Pacific Norhtwest that hunts Sea Ducks...or even hunts Sea Ducks over decoys...In fact there are THREE licensed Guides that do that....Sadly one of them, La Conner Guide Service, is no longer operational.....Wind and Waves, run by Mike Wolski, is also a Coast Guard Licensed Captain and is therefore operating LEGALLY when he takes clients for hire onto the water.......anyone other than W&W and Pennisula in this area is not legally licensed with the Coast Guard and is therefore operating ILLEGALLY....

    So Diver731 be sure to follow the recommendation of "jfe" to the letter and contact ALL of the Guides in whatever area that you decide to hunt in.....and when you contact them make sure that THE FIRST question that you ask is "are you Coast Guide Licensed" and then get the CG number and verify it....immediately after that question ask "what is your CG boat certification number?"....and then ask, "are you fully insured?"....if the answer to any of those is not a verifiable "yes" then no matter how glowing the recommendations of people that are recommending the "illegal" Guide Service are you would be well served to move to one of the Guide Services that has taken the time to follow the laws that are in place specifically to protect visitors on the water.

    Oh and "jfe" if you hunted here last year with anyone but LaConner Guide Service or Pennisula before this season then you hunted with a Guide Service that was operating "illegally". If you hunted this year and hunted with anyone but Pennisula or W&W then again you hunted with someone that was operating illegally. Now hopefully you weren't implying to a potential vistior to our State that he should hunt with the "illegal" operator out here even if that was the service that you hunted with and even if that service provided you with an acceptable hunt....


  9. saltdux

    saltdux Elite Refuge Member Sponsor

    Sep 15, 2001
    Olympic Peninsula, Washington
    ~ Hmmm -- JFE... ya sound a 'bit bitter for some reason~ never hunted your Alabama sort as of yet, maybe it was Mike, or other.

    ~ Thor is not a paid promo.... just a good friend whom I have enjoyed many a " fun hunt " day in the blind/ boat with-- Thank you Steve for the kind words, they are unsolicited.

    ~ Hunting in the Northwest / Wa. is a unique experience. No consistent eiders ( very rare indeed )... yet consistent full season action on over 13 prime species of divers / seaducks from October-- thru late January. The diversity of waterfowl species is what keeps things interesting around here.
  10. jfe

    jfe Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    HOLY COW!!!!!!:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

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