About a year ago I called 0321Tony about doing a guided trip to Rhode Island to hunt Common Eiders. He thought that was a good idea, so we started doing some research. All of my research pointed towards one outfitter that consistently put clients on birds. The outfitter was Ocean State Outfitters run by Capt Jeremiah Brooks. Jeremiah is a former Navy guy and super military friendly so he hooked us up with a great deal, and also reminded us that we could get our brant and black ducks as well as the eider. That was all we needed to hear, we agreed and we put deposits down. An agonizing year went by and finally Last Thursday it was time! Tony had to fly from anchorage, and after getting diverted, and him waking up on a runway of some strange Air Force base in Oregon, he finally made it to Boston quite a few hours later where we met up and got our rental car and headed for our hotel in Raynham Massachusetts.
The next morning we met Jeremiah at the Dunkin Donuts, and we were underway to the Canal. After we got our gear ready and waders on, we launched the boat and headed towards Cape Cod. Jeremiah had us convinced we had a really long boat ride ahead of us, but after about 15-20 min he announced that we were there. He dropped us off on a rock pile, handed me my 10 gauge, and Tony his 12 and set up our decoys. We had about 20 min to wait until legal shooting light, so the anticipation kept growing.
After shooting light finally came, we were being careful to not shoot brant since they were closed in MA at that time. A few birds came in, and we couldn't positively ID them so we passed on shooting. After about 10 min a really big dark duck came in, and instantly I thought scoter! I lined up my bead, the old 10 gauge rang out and the bird dropped in the decoys. Bird 1 was down. A little while later the light got better and we could see the birds a lot better. Low on the water in comes a flock of eider, we both line up and I shoot at the lead drake, only to drop the hen behind him, so at that point I was limited out on hens for the day. Shortly afterwards another group comes in, and Tony Drops his first drake eider. Another flock comes in a bit later and I finally get mine. I asked Jeremiah on the radio what the bird and species count was. He said 2 eiders and one really really nice black duck for me, and 2 eiders for Tony. The first bird I had shot was not a scoter at all, It was one of the most perfect specimens of black duck Jeremiah said he had seen taken! A day of firsts for me, my first eider, and first black duck!
We had singles and doubles trickling in after that at which we were really careful to only pick out the drakes. Both of us were looking for mature hens to mount, so we needed to find a hen with really nice white bars on her wings. We had one come in and Tony dropped her. Unfortunately he hit her pretty hard, so she went into the meat pile. We were really picky on birds after that, only trying to get big mature drakes. We had seen around 500 eiders fly by at this time, but most were heading to a point just in front of us, and out of range. It's pretty hard to stare at a raft of 500 birds about 500 yards out. They were flying behind us as well, but it was illegal to shoot in that direction so we had to let them pass. Suddenly a big red breasted merganser comes rocketing into the decoys, Tony raises his gun and drops one really nice drake. I started to make fun of him for shooting a merganser, but he says hey, I've never got one before and it's on my list. Apparently it was indeed a really good one, because Jeremiah asked if he wanted it, and if not he wanted to get it mounted for his wall. Tony agreed to let him take it instead of just adding it to the meat pile. After a while the wind picked up really bad, we had 40-50 mph gusts ripping through our decoys, and Jeremiah said it was time to pick the decoys up. We didn't limit out on birds, but we easily could have if we weren't so picky on which ones we shot.
Unfortunately I'm only allowed to post two pics per post so, to be continued in a few min as I type it up.