Friday, January 21, 2011

"Eiders For Everyone" by Stephen Shepherd

As I said earlier in the week, I knew I had a good friend going up to Massachusetts to hunt eider, and wanted my decoy to make it's way up with him.  Stephen Shepherd goes by many names, Steve or Shep come to mind, but I know him simply as, Georgia.  Loud and rambunctious when sober, unruly when having a few drinks, we were bound to hit it off.  I've since come to know Georgia not so much as a fellow member of L'anguille Lounge Duck Club, but simply as a good friend.

Eiders For Everyone

We really didn't know what to expect as we started to unload guns and gear off of the skiff onto the breakwater wall in the predawn light. The rocks were covered with slippery green algae and the only thing that saved us from sliding into the cold waters of Boston Harbor were the barnacles that cut our wader boots and cold hands. Adam shouted over the humming 4 stroke engine that powered his boat, "Steve....I want one person out on the point and two others stretched out back to the West about 20 yards apart....make sure you have the last person on the back side because that is where the Scoters will come from."

It felt kind of odd trying to settle in for a hunt with jets screaming over head and Boston proper serving as the backdrop! Nestled into rock crevices and sitting on boat cushions, we sat motionless just as our guide had told us. As the sun began to breach the horizon, the radio given to me came alive. "Steve, you got your radio on?" "Yes sir," I replied. "I'm going to sit back here off of the beach about 1/4 mile. If you knock down a bird and it's not dead, KEEP SHOOTING........these things dive and are liable to come up 500 yards away........It's not like shooting mallards!," Adam said firmly. "Yes sir," I replied. I had been given the same advice and other pointers in the weeks leading up to our hunt by my good friend Justin Harrison.


The first shot came from my right and took me complete surprise! A single immature drake landed on the outskirts of the long line directly in front of Claude. The thunderous roar from Claude's 12 gauge claimed the first Eider of the trip! Flocks of Eiders and Scoters begun to stream off of the ocean and into the harbor. "Out front, here they come......Out front......Out front." I sat still straining my eyes looking toward the horizon trying to find the birds. "Shoot em', shoot em'!" someone yelled from down the line. "Shoot what, I don't see any damn birds!" I was thinking to myself. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM......I turned my head and scanned a line of decoys in front of us just in time to see Tim crumple a mature Eider directly over the decoys.


With Tim and Claude having and Eider a piece and dad having not fired his gun, I yelled to dad, "Move over to the other side.......just get between Tim and Claude!" Dad slowly made his way across the rocks and found a place to stow his gear out of the way. "Here comes 2 birds Dan, get ready," Tim said quietly. A single hen Eider was flying less than a foot above the water and directly down the line of Eider decoys straight toward dad. At 20 yards, her wings began to flutter and with her feet only inches from the water, dad fired the first shot. The bird hit the water hard but, she still had her head up. "KEEP SHOOTING!," I yelled. 4 shots later, dads first Eider was lying motionless on the water.


While waiting on Adam to come pick up the 3 birds that layed in the decoys, I poured a cup of coffee in silent celebration of my dad's first Eider. The small radio that Adam gave me at the start of the hunt began to crackle. "Steve, are you there?.......There are a bunch of Eiders behind you toward the beach. When I come toward you to pick up the birds, be ready to shoot," Adam said. Eiders started to trickle out from the inner harbor in front of Adam. Every few birds that came from behind were closer than the group before. When the birds got inside the 45 yard threshold, I got ready to shoot. "SHOOT HIM, SHOOT HIM......IN THE DCOYS!" Tim shouted. I cut my eyes back to the south and a single drake Eider was stretched out landing in the decoys only 10 yards from me. I shifted my weight and turned 90 degrees and squeezed the trigger. "BOOM".......I crushed my first drake Eider at a little over 10 yards. At that moment, the world stood still. I was in a new place, shooting new species of birds with my dad and sharing fellowship with friends!

The action was hot in Boston Harbor that was Eiders for everyone!


Everyone knows that I'm unapologetic about my love for sea ducks and hunting them.  In my opinion, your waterfowling career is not complete until you hunt these birds.  Likewise, it's always fun to watch and read about a buddy's first experience on these birds.  I'm very happy for Georgia and Mr. Dan, and appreciate their story and the photos they provided.

Hope everyone has a safe and great weekend, Justin

1 comment:

Mike Hruby said...

Great story Stephen!!!!! I've yet to kill a "Regular" Eider!!!! Nice pics!!!!!!