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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The target of this adventure was the Common Eider. The beauty of these birds cannot be described or portrayed adequately, you simply have to hold one for yourself. The gracefulness of their flight inches off the water and the sight of drakes decoying 15 yards from you is something to behold. Please take a moment to read the saying at the very end of the post, it's pretty awesome.

Myself, Buttons(PAtwat), my Dad, friend Joe, and Willy the HPA traveling decoy headed up the road in search of such an adventure at the annual Duckwater Jamboree, this time being held in Maine. Amongst the laughs and punches along the way, we managed a few pictures as well. Joe is a fella that lets us hunt his land and has become a great friend over the years and is a heckuva nice guy. He has been all over the world hunting but had never taken an Eider. I had to find a place to keep the boat after it was done and he said “You can store it here if I can go to Maine with you.” Deal!

A few pics from the ride up:





We arrived a day early, allowing us time to familiarize ourselves with the area. Tides range from 9-20 feet in this neck of the woods and over our three days of hunting we didn't see one greater than 11.3 feet. We had to be sure to take into account that we would experience a low tide each day during our hunt. We spent the entire day scouting and talking with local folks trying to find our quarry, the Common Eider. At the end of the day we had made up our minds to hunt a point at the mouth of a river going into the bay. With the northwest wind, we thought the Eider (currently a little up river) would do just as they did that day, fly from the bay up river to feed and rest out of the frigid stiff NW winds. After conferring with our friends back at the hotel, this would be our plan for hunt number one. It was then time for dinner, seafood chowda and a local brew.

One of the last few bridges designed by the guy that also did the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (google that if you don't know the history).




Dad and I:








A little “Bob” Marley Dog:





 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Hunt #1
We arrived at the boat ramp as the sun began to light the horizon, prepping the boat for the trip out the river only about ¾ mile. The short run was welcome due to the low temperatures. We set the layouts and decoys (Eider, Scoter, and Old Squaw) off the point and waiting for the birds. The flight was slow to begin with but then the shots rang out. Our first drake eider had pitched to the decoys but was able to get away un-scathed. A few old sqaw and scoter also made passes but the winds and waves were making shooting a tough ordeal. It was time to switch out so Dad and I hopped in the boats leaving Pat (Buttons) and Joe to tender. We were nearing low tide and expecting the action to die off as the birds quit feeding and being loafing around the area. At 10am a drake eider slid into the decoys at 15 yards dead on. Dad dropped the drake with one shot. His first Eider and our first for the trip. No more birds flew after this and we picked up our gear and headed on a scouting mission for the next day's hunt.













Back at the boat ramp we were greeted by two Maine DNR officers. Let me say that the folks in Maine are as nice as anyone on the plant. We talked to the guys for over an hour and they gave us lots of tips and information that we hoped would make our next two days much more successful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hunt #2

The next morning started much earlier, as we wanted to be ready when the first birds flew in to feed. Instead of putting in at a boat launch, we drove onto a public beach (allowed there) and back the boat down the slope into the water. We knew getting out would be tricky since we'd be taking out shortly after low tide but figured we'd worry about that later. We navigated our way across the water and around the rocks just under the surface at slow pace guided by the knowledge we had gained the charts offered on the GPS. We made it to our selected area and planned our setup. As we were finalizing our rig (2 lines of Eider and 4 Old Sqaw off the corners) we began to see Eider coming in off the bigger water to feed. We were pumped. Pat and Joe hopped in and Dad and I got the tender out of sight. The birds would hook around the point right toward the rig but then keep on going. We were bummed. Pat suggested we widen the gap between the Eiders by dragging one end out, we did it, and it worked. The Eider swinging around the point could now see our decoys better, and in they came. We heard the roar of the guns blazing away and over the radio comes “EIDAH DAHN! EIDAH DAHN!” Of course in Maine they say “Eidah” instead of Eider and in Pittsburgh they say “Dahn” instead of down so we had to mix the two. For a furious few minutes 5 drake eider hit the water before the action subsided. Joe and Pat had their first ones on the water. Dad and I then hopped in the layouts. For what seemed like an eternity, nothing flew. I was thinking, I'm going to come all the way up here, do all this work, and everyone is going to get an eider but me, selfish yes, but I was worried none the less. Then low to the water, maybe ¾ to ½ mile away we could see the white wings on the water. In they came, down one went. Dad shot another, his second. Just as his bird was picked up, a single was barreling toward us...I sat up, bang, down he went. We called for Pat and Joe to pick the bird up, as Joe netted the bird and brought him into the boat I heard “band!” No way, they're screwing with me. Then Pat started jumping up and “dahn” like a little kid at Christmas getting a Red Rider BB gun. It really was banded! My first eider, a drake, and banded. Unreal! The action was on an off the rest of the day until we decided to stop @ 14 birds and call it a day to start planning for the next day's hunt. We headed back, ate some “lobsta,” had some beers, and got some sleep.














Banded Drake Eider, Freeporte Nova Scotia, Hatched in 2003 or earlier:


The day's take (the wind made Marley's ear stay at full sail):


A picture with Willy:


Pat's first Eider:


A sleepy dog:



A USGS virologist swabbing our birds to test for avian parsites and viruses:


Time for lobsta!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hunt #3

We found ourselves back in the same location as hunt #2 but with different conditions, still confident we could have a successful morning. We adapted to the conditions and changed our setup a bit to better our chances. Just as we were finishing a flock of 24-30 eider, the biggest we had seen yet, pitched around our 2 decoy lines, we could do nothing but stare in awe. Dad and Pat were in the boxes first and Marley and I tendered. Joe had left to go home that morning. Dad and Pat put 3 birds on the water in no time. Pat and I switched out and soon here came three eider (2 hens, 1 drake) straight at Dad and I. “Let's take the drake” I called out. Bang! Bang! All three birds hit the water. It was not our intention to take these two hens, however we did want to take a single or two so that we could have them mounted with our drakes, these two would become the ones we'd use. The weather went downhill fast and fog and rain set in. As soon as this happened, the eider quit flying. We called it a day and headed for the beach to load up the boat. The tide was still very low and it was quite a chore winching and pushing the big boat onto the trailer, then jockeying it up the beach as the sand did not offer much traction. After about ½ hour of trying, we made it up the beach. We headed for lunch, our first of the trip, we were on the water and on the road so much, dinner was the only meal of the day we had time to eat.




Pat's first Old Sqaw:


The days take (with Willy):


Jeff was back to test more birds:


It was then time for a night at the bar and some down time before the ride home the next morning:


Tired from the hunts:



Pat and I took over 700 pictures over the 4 days in Maine. Most of the days it was cloudy and/or rainy. These are just a few of them. Of all the hunting trips I have been fortunate enough to take, or be a part of, this trip was the most enjoyable and special of them all. I cannot emphasize enough, how much hard work goes into this and it takes dedicated, adaptable, and like minded folks to accomplish it. I feel very privileged to have had my Father and Pat along to help with planning, setup, and everything else...we did it. I was extatic for Joe to get the Eider he wanted. To end this post I'd like to add a saying I saw on a plaque in an antique store the weekend before we left for our trip, I changed a few words, but it's 95% as read. If the plaque wasn't so cheesy looking, I would have purchased it:

<span style="color: #000099"><span style="font-size: 14pt"> </span> <span style="font-size: 14pt"><span style="font-weight: bold">“The duck is my shepherd. I have to hunt. It maketh me drive for miles on gravel roads. It leadeth me to swampy ponds and salty waters. It restoreth my aim. It leadeth me away from my wife and job. The shadows have yet to appear. But I fear nothing. For my down jacket and long johns are with me. My duck boat comforts me. It prepares an outlet for me in the midst of everyday stress. It anointeth my head with relief. But my boots will not runneth over, for they are waders. Surely, pairs and flocks shall come to me each time I appear. And I will get my limit forever.”</span></span></span>
 

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Again, more nice pictures Jason. I will post my pictures up Wednesday hopefully. I've been doing all the after the hunt chores myself since we got back (Wash the boat inside and out, wash the truck too after almost getting stuck, sea duck decoys out, divers and puddlers back in). Justin and Bryan had to work (next time I will require them to take the day after off as well). Finally have the boat back to "river hunt ready" We all had a great time tagging along with you guys as well. Our pictures will not be near the quality of your though.

Brent
 

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Nice job guys! Have hunted with Pat many times and he is about as good as it gets. Congrats on a successful and safe out of state hunt.
 

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Spactacular! Thanks so very much for sharing these. I actually felt like I was part of this. You guys must have had a truely wonderful time and I wish you many more. Nice to include the pup, the ones with seaweed hat and with his ear blowing up in the wind - priceless.
 

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Awesome.All the terrain looks the same there even the shore houses.We go a bit farthur south then you guys.
darn good thing Marley was along, if u had to rely on the red beard guy you'd have left a few float away. Keep an eye on him,
shady character. congrats on the band.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks fellas.

Brent, we had a great time hanging out with you guys. Glad you were able to get some eidah dahn on Saturday. It was nice to pair up and be fairly close should assistance be needed. I'd love to plan another trip back for next season. Also, thanks to Bryan for the call about the ice on the road.
 

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Awesome guys!!! A banded eider. Wow!!
 

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Very cool. Really enjoyed the read and pics. Hunting eiders is on my bucket list. Been trying to get it accomplished for the last few years but something else always comes up. Congrats on the band too!!!
 

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Just couldn't get enough of your pics! Hoping to start putting some hunts of that caliber on the list for me and my son. Top shelf group of guys right there...even Pat! LOL. Congratulations...
 

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LabandBirdman said:
Also, thanks to Bryan for the call about the ice on the road.
Yeah, sliding across a bridge on an angle was a butt pucker moment for sure. Thank goodness no other cars were around.
 
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