Maine Sea Duck Hunt: Pursuing Eiders at Morning Light with Savage Arms
Adam Scepaniak 11.22.22
The east coast is a unique and often unforgiving ecosystem for sea-faring birds of a feather. In Maine, specifically the Penobscot Bay region near Bluehill, you can witness tidal changes of 10 – 12 feet in a single day. With an ebb-and-flow and highs-and-lows that drastic, it makes it extremely challenging for not only the ducks that call this environment home, but also the hunters who pursue them. We, at AllOutdoor, joined the chase for Maine sea duck – specifically Common Eiders – by the way of Savage Arms, TrueTimber, and Remington Ammunition through Penobscot Bay Outfitters.
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While many of us might be veteran waterfowlers throughout many of the central flyways in the Lower 48, most of us have never had the opportunity to hunt Maine sea duck breeds. It is a distinct experience that requires new tactics, new methods, and we were even donning new gear. For our shotgun, we ran one of the new Savage Arms Renegauge 12 Gauge semi-auto shotguns in TrueTimber Prairie camouflage. The payload we were delivering on ducks was some of the also new Remington Premier Bismuth 12 Gauge 3” boasting Hevi Bismuth #2 shot. Finally, we were clad in TrueTimber Prairie camouflage featuring Gore-Tex material from head-to-toe: chest waders, field pants, long sleeves, hooded sweatshirts, winter gloves, jackets, and more.
Hunting Tactics for Ocean-Faring Fowl
To get on some Common Eiders for our late November hunt, we needed to be out on the water before daybreak. This involved a 3AM alarm clock; a hearty, sustaining breakfast; and then 2 hours of travel and setup on the calm, dawn waters of Penobscot Bay. While setting up our formation of Eider decoys and a lay-out boat in the dark, we had to be mindful of rock shelves that would begin jutting out of the water within the 4 hours we hunted this one spot. The tidal change was very evident during our short time hunting. Once our day began it was 28 degrees with a light wind and the sleet from the previous day thankfully broke. It was a pristine, but cold morning for our 1st day of hunting.
Common Eider Sea Ducks
What was on our minds were Common Eiders. You can see dozens of different duck breeds on the waters of Penobscot Bay including multiple Eider breeds, but we were specifically setup for the jumbo, beautiful Common Eider. A much rarer sight would be a King Eider which boasts a prominent, multi-colored beak. Eiders are known for diving deep to fish for mussels which they eat whole – shell, meat, and all. Their digestive system contains specialized, green bile to break down the shells of their preferred meal. Eiders are also a special duck because they look like they have been packin’ on the feed bag. They are either the biggest, blimp duck you have ever seen or are akin to a small snow goose. Regardless, they are a hearty, tough bird. They also are deceptively fast for their size. In all, we could harvest 3 eiders per day.
As the morning light began to creep from the East, we immediately began to see birds. They swiftly buzzed the bay from all directions as the boys chased the girls, and they all sought out the best feeding grounds or areas to rest. Within a minute of our guide from Penobscot Bay Outfitters dropping me off in my lay-out boat, I had Eiders circling into my decoy spread. The 1st pair of Eiders presented to me where I could barely identify them in the yet very dark bay… I missed! We all know it happens when we hunt. Whether it was poor sighting in the barely legal shooting hours, lack of coffee, or operator error, I remained positive and reloaded for the next fly-by of Eiders. Within 15 minutes I got buzzed again multiple times and knocked down 3 Common Eiders in a row to complete my limit for the day. It was then time to switch out with others from my hunting party waiting near shore for their turn.
Final Thoughts – Maine Sea Duck Hunt with Savage Arms
Hunting Common Eiders on Penobscot Bay in Maine was a truly surreal experience. You are rolling in the bay in a lay-out boat similar to a wide kayak shooting at oversized ducks that are eerily chunky and fast. Beyond that, we got to deploy a shotgun in the Savage Arms Renegauge Prairie – that is both new to me and new to the market – that was nimble, accurate, and light-recoiling. Moreover, the ammunition we utilized for quick, humane harvests did exactly that; it put down birds. Our hunt was frigid, but picturesque… challenging, but memorable… foreign, but now firmly cemented in our memories.
For anyone who has not gone sea duck hunting in Penobscot Bay with the Penobscot Bay Outfitters, we cannot recommend it enough! Finally, there is a great thanks to be made to TrueTimber for outfitting our entire hunting party plus the support of Savage Arms and Remington for tremendous gear driving a successful hunt. As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.