Sea ducks in February

Techniques, gear and more

By Ken BaileyKen Bailey

207Page1_Barrett&MacKay_seaducks

Photo by Barrett & MacKay

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Best in: New Brunswick

If you can put up with the kind of damp cold that somehow permeates even the most high-tech fabrics, you owe it to yourself to go sea duck hunting at least once in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy. There you can expect opportunities for common eiders, white-winged and surf scoters, long-tailed ducks, common and red-breasted mergansers and, if you’re really lucky, perhaps the most coveted waterfowl species of all—the king eider. Popular jumping off points include the St. Andrew’s and Grand Manan areas. Scout for rocky points where ducks are feeding at low tide, though some hunters prefer to use boat blinds or motor out to rocky islands. Mind the changing sea when hunting from shore, as the bay’s renowned 25-foot-plus tides can isolate you at the wrong end of a point if you’re not careful. Early morning has long been the preferred time afield for veteran sea duck hunters, since the birds are much less prone to trading on the cool salt winds after their morning feed and tend to raft in large flocks throughout the rest of the day.

Technique

A couple dozen decoys is all you’ll need if you’ve done your homework and located an active feeding area. There’s always plenty of natural cover on the rocky coastline, so artificial blinds are not an issue. Shots can range from 15 to 50-plus yards; expect your overall shooting opportunities to be fast and compressed.

Essential gear

Fashion is not important here by any means, but staying protected against a cold, wet wind certainly is. Wear the most weather-resistant gear you can find. For guns and loads, I recommend a 12-gauge, choked modified, with three-inch loads of #2 steel or non-toxic shot.

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