Friday, February 7, 2020

Back on the Sound---from Knotts Island to Bells Island

It was the first weekend of the first "split" of duck season.  Mid-November.  Unfortunately . . . our first hunt on the sound this year didn't go quite as planned.  

Several buddies and I had two Currituck National Wildlife Refuge Blinds, off Knotts Island.  We've had good hunts there before, and I love going up to that part of the world.  Northeastern North Carolina is a special place, a place full of water and waterways.  A place full of history, thanks to all that water.  One of the first colonized areas of Carolina.  Knotts Island is an especially unique place . . . and getting there from the rest of our state requires boarding the Currituck ferry or driving into Virginia, and coming back south, down NC 615, through Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, and onto Knotts Island, the island-peninsula jutting out into the Currituck Sound.

This year, we rented a cabin at a campground right on the state line.  Waterfront, with a fire-pit, and even satellite TV . . . the digs weren't too shabby.  

The night before the hunt, our fearless chef, Charles, whipped up some breakfast sandwiches, ready to be quickly warmed in the morning.  We may've enjoyed some hot cider, too.  

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Late Fall Weekends on the Coast of Carolina

A look back . . . 

Speckled trout.  What a great fish.  To fish for, to catch, and, every once in a while, to invite a few to dinner . . .

When the trout get thick and start chewing, it's that time of year.  The temperature cools and the water clears.  It's the best time time of year---fall on the coast of Carolina.

Catch 'em from the skiff, catch 'em from the jetty.  

It just doesn't get much better . . . especially when these "trout-tivities" coincide with spoil island skeet shooting and some Turkey day oysters and a bit of Atlantic Beach pie.  

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Poor Man's Saltwater Quail Hunting

Rails.  Marsh hens.  Rail birds.  Marsh chickens. Whatever you wanna call 'em.

I'm by no means an experienced marsh hen hunter . . . I've only tried for the salt marsh fowl a handful of times.

There can be some work required for this briny mix of dove and quail hunting.  Especially trying to push the skiff through the spartina grass when the tide hasn't risen quite enough . . .  especially with a not-quite-long-enough push pole.  You, like me, may be huffing and puffing.

But when you spy a rail-bird through the grass, when you see that long distinctive bill, when you see that dark brown, slinking through the flooded grass, low, low like a nutria or a rat, those hunting instincts that lay dormant in many of us start to stir.

This really is hunting, though the shooting isn't all that difficult.  Your eyes straining, looking for the small bird, the bird just trying to evade your detection.  He, the bird, won't jump up and flush easily.  You've almost got to push right on top of him.

It's a team effort too, part of what makes this salt marsh venture so great.  One pushing, the other two, holding shotguns at the ready (though one may need to help push here and there), and all, with eyes sharp, inspecting every contrast in the flooded grass, every movement.

It's a tide game . . . and the clock's ticking.  Once that tide starts to drop out, you won't have long.