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Thread: Scoters

  1. #1
    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    Default Scoters

    Saw my first scoters today. Seems odd that they would be 1000 miles from the ocean.

    scoters2.jpg
    scoters1 copy.jpg

    I was surprised at how big they are. I guess drakes and hens look alike as all three appear to be very similar.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    I hear the best way to eat them is with tarter sauce. Bud
    Wasilla

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    I was afraid of that. I guess I'll be adding scoters to the list of ducks to never shoot under any circumstances. Previously I only regarded mergansers as unshootable.

    In other news, I believe all three are drakes. According to multiple internet sources, the females lack the white patch on the nape and are generally black all over.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    Sorry for the bad joke at your expense. Scooters are generally considered a seaduck I believe, and I did not realize they went that far inland either. I'm sure if shot in Cordova, they would be considered a prize, and there is no reason they shouldn't be by you. I've just never gone after seaducks. Bud
    Wasilla

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    Skinny, what is the fourth duck in the picture on the left?

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    I believe it's a hen Barrow's goldeneye but it could be a common goldeneye. Local member PG13 should have an opinion as he is an expert orinthologist.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Don't listen to them SkinnyD, scoters aren't bad eating. I do a seaduck hunt every year and shoot lots of them. They go great in a crock pot. I make duck stew out of them. They make good Jerky as well. You got 3 really nice surf scoters there, I wish I could get a few to come by my decoys in the mornings. Congrats on 3 beautiful birds.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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  8. #8
    Member PG13's Avatar
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    I recently found out that surf scoters aren't as tied to the ocean as we would think. They actually nest inland on tundra and woodlands, weird. First heard of them down on the Kenai Peninsula south of Hope but looks like they are north too (see range map link).

    http://offline.whatbird.com/img/4/2876/image.aspx?x=311

    Without seeing the 4th duck closer I really can't make much of a suggestion except Barrow's Goldeneye range generally lies in the latitudes below the Interior and have a really stubby, triangular looking bill. Common hens also have a darker bill overall and your bird doesn't seem to have any of the Barrow's yellow. I bet they taste the same. Scoters are neat looking in an ugly way. Nice job Commander.
    Go Big Red!

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    The 4th duck in line looks to be a Goldeneye=looks inmature. We have common goldeneyes here in New Hampshire and the mature females have like the candy corn color on the end of the beak along with a lot of white feathers in the patch area with like 6 out of 10 all white. If a flock of them are In the air within 100 yards from you on a quiet morning you will hear the wings make a whistling sound=males especially. Seen flocks of close to 200 here before that were 50 miles inland from the coast/Not like 1000 as the person stated in the first post.

    We have a weekly report that comes out in the statewide newspaper from birders reporting sightings and usually somewhere here in New Hampshire they will sight a Barrow's Goldeneye/usually on the coast but sometimes inland in the "Lakes Region" in central Nh 50 miles from the coast. Highly doubt the ones seen on the east coast here come from the Pacific coast.

    Seaduck hunting is steady action here on the east coast of the US=Flocks from 6-10 upwards of 1,000 is the most i have seen. Lots of eiders, Oldsquaws, white wing, surf and blacks. Amazing to watch flocks of scooters fly around= just literally like a black cloud in the sky that will settle down after 15-30 minutes in flight after they are shot at and then it's time to sneak up on them again and try and get a shot off if possible? Not really too intelligent of a duck but fun to hunt.

    Duck hunting starts here in 3 weeks.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    I don't have a lot of insight on the topic except what I've learned under a shade tree, but I believe goldeneyes, buffleheads, and several others prefer the swampy boreal forest for nesting and only begin to key on big water once the migration gets underway. 1000 miles was a bit of an overstatement, but in Fairbanks we are quite a ways inland. I got out my trusty copy of Sibley and found out that surf scoters nest on both coasts and spend their winters in California and North Carolina.

    Speaking of New Hampshire, I rode the train from Boston to Portland once and I saw a lot of ducky country through the middle section of the trip. I'd like to give it a try around there sometime.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Let me jump in and say thank you to SkinnyD for taking me out to where he got Surf Scoters. I got two awesome looking Scoters and a Goldeneye a couple days ago with him. I'll try to get a pic on here in a day or so of how they looked before they got home and on the grill. lol Oh, and they taste pretty good too!

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    Yes i have read before that the scooters nest inland in small swamps/bogs in NB and QB. Heard a lot of the breeding grounds for seaducks are in the James Bay area a long ways from the eastern seaboard but James bay is part of the Arctic ocean above Quebec. Quite a flight through/across land to get there.

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    Should have mentioned that we call the ducks "flying fillets" as the meat in them taste like liver as well as mergansers and in the bobhouse while ice fishing is when we fry them up for lunch.

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    That 4th duck is a goldeneye. As for the sea ducks, they are not bad eating. Heck one of the worst ducks I've eaten up here was a mallard that was eating dead salmon and salmon eggs. An interior sea duck would most likely be eating the same thing any other diver would (canvasback, ring necks, scaup, etc.) Might as well not shoot any diver if people don't like the taste. Anyway, I'll be shooting and eating some soon when the weather gets cooler and the fresh water freezes up. Good job on the scoters!

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    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Nice job there!!! They taste just fine. I made jerky out of them.
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    Gary Keller
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    I know you really can't see all of the color on these two Scoters but I said I would get a pic up for you to see. So here they are.

    CIMG2264.jpg


    P.S. And I have to agree with DuckSlayer56, they taste good if you cook them right....

  17. #17
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    Those birds have the coolest bills.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
    I am a shoveler's worst nightmare!

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    I thought the same thing! If I was to ever mount a bird I think it would have to be a surf scoter. The jet black body with the cool muti color bill is just to cool. I was happy as hell when I got them. But I've never been a trophy guy so I take a picture and eat it.

  19. #19
    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    I have had all three species of scoters mounted. I think they are all really neat birds, but my surf scoter is my favorite. Gotta love the skunk heads
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
    I am a shoveler's worst nightmare!

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    I usually kill a few myself every year near Fairbanks. I talked to a guy last year that said quite a few nest up on the Yukon flats. I guess that would make the Fairbanks/interior area a good rest stop on there way down to the coast where they winter.

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