Editor’s Note: Cory Dukehart of Westminster, Maryland, is an avid waterfowler and Mossy Oak’s Atlantic flyway Regional ProStaff Manager.
Maryland has another type duck hunting that’s extremely popular - sea duck hunting. Sea duck hunting is done over open water, and it’s extremely fast-paced. Most of the time you'll have some really-fast pass shooting. Imagine a baseball pitcher throwing a 100 mph fastball, and you're trying to shoot that ball as it’s coming to you or passing by you. As you imagine this, you'll kind of get an idea of what a sea duck hunt is like. To make the shot even more challenging, imagine lying in a boat that’s only 3- or 4-inches above the water and rocking with the waves.
Usually, to go sea duck hunting, you’ll have two boats. One will be a layout boat that’s similar to a layout blind. The other boat is a tender boat. The tender boat is bigger and will carry two or three hunters. One person will get in the layout boat, and two or three more hunters will be in the tender boat. The decoys are put around the layout boat, and the person in that boat usually does the shooting. Once he has his limit, he gets into the tender boat. Then, another shooter climbs in the layout boat. On a nasty day in the bay, sea duck hunting can be wet and cold on the water, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Sea ducks are rarely found inland. On a sea duck hunt, you'll take Oldsquaw (long-tailed ducks), eiders and some scoters. On a good day, each hunter should take about four or five sea ducks. Some of the reasons that sea duck hunting is so popular is due to these ducks being so unusual looking, the way you hunt them is completely different from how you hunt most ducks, and the pass shooting is really challenging. Often the sea duck hunting in Maryland is much better than the puddle duck hunting - another reason it’s so popular. The Chesapeake Bay can support a lot of hunting pressure, and we have many sea ducks there for the hunters to take, especially when the ducks start migrating.
I recommend that anyone coming to Maryland to hunt sea ducks bring plenty of clothes, hand warmers and body warmers. Before you hunt, you need to spend a lot of time at a sporting-clays range, a skeet range or a trap range, because you'll have fast shooting. Too, our leads will be somewhat farther than your leads when hunting puddle ducks. Sea duck hunting is a challenging, fun and exciting way to hunt and take ducks.