Duck hunting with Vic Berg Outer Banks NC 2014
December 16, 2014
A quick note. Being that Christmas is falling in the middle of next week, too many of my guides may be reduced to fun hunting with their buddies for the holidays. They are a ruthless lot so, whether you’re here or not, ducks are going to get hunted.
This final segment to the season opened with a (dare I say it?) bang on Saturday and carried over to Monday. In the two days, sixteen hunts netted 168 fowl, sixteen species represented. The biggest happy surprise is the red heads showing up all across the two counties where we hunt. (Approximately 70/80 miles of coastal waterfowl nirvana.
I’m not implying that guys are limiting out in fifteen minutes or anything, but if you stay put, pay attention and shoot what comes to you, good hunts are being had. One of the funner shoots on Saturday yielded 6 pintail, 3 gadwall, a widgeon, a red head (out of a flock of 40 and within 10-15 yards!!!), a shoveller and 2 buffleheads.
On another hunt a thousand bird flock of both blue bills and red heads, mixed, quite litterally split the blind like the parting of the Red Sea. The clients were so gobsmacked with awe that they never even fired a shot. The guide finally couldn’t stand it any longer and shot out a drake blue bill before the horde passed entirely.
Now, back to Christmas week. Like I said, I’ve got guides who need to work, but will hunt for fun if they have to. Don’t get yourself in trouble with the family, but, if you can, there’s ducks here and guides who know how to hunt them.
Happy holidays and happy hunting!
Vic and Ellen
December 8, 2014
November was a lot funner than I thought it might not be. That doesn’t mean that you didn’t have to hunt hard all day to ‘ger’er done’, but if you paid attention and got most of what came to you, eight or fourteen birds were on the game strap when you quit in the evening.
At least the eight or fourteen could have been on most days. As I’ve been saying for years, there’s that fine line between harvesting ten or twelve birds versus one or three birds during any given day. There are skills.
Most of the ducks shot in November were good, big ducks. Lots of gadwall spread everywhere, with extra mallards in Currituck. Teal were more evenly distributed than usual which made the guys in Oregon Inlet happy.
We were all pleasantly surprised with the chances we got at big divers; red heads and canvasbacks in particular. I’m not saying that we shot ’em every day, buut we got more than I expected this early in the season.
Talking about all the red heads, real reliable rumors are buzzing that there are several flocks of them “the size of the Walmart parking lot” gorging themselves in local refuges. They should eat the refuges bare before too long. We’ll get more and more chances as time goes by. The good thing about red heads is that they show up service wide. All the guides get their turns.
I was hunting with two of the guides on Monday of the second November week. Three red heads dumped into the left side of the decoy rig from out of nowhere. I was on that side of the blind so I and the guy in the middle wiped them out. Yada, yada, yad and one of the three had bling on her ankle.
We couldn’t tell who actually got which one so we had to flip a coin. Fair is fair. I’ve actually had friends quit being friends over a teal band. Johnny was very gracious when he lost the flip.
During the three weeks of November, thirty seven groups of hunters bagged 287 fowl. Most of them were ‘tasty’ ducks that our guys, absolutely, have been enjoying during this break between the seasons.
How’s this for a fun shoot between 4 gunners -including a nine year old gunner on his first hunt ever? Eight gadwall, eight red heads, a black duck, a pintail, six teal and a swan.
Or this other hunt that exemplified the all day hunts I talked about earlier: seven teal, two gadwall, a widgeon, a pintail, a mallard and two buffleheads.
I had a flock of twenty five pintail work me-wings locked-five different times that we never got a shot at as they would never quite finish….(cool thing about it was that I was practicing my own deep-pitched flutter-whistle, that pintails make, by whistling while you flutter your tongue.
I had made a few practice whistles when we all of a sudden noticed the flock falling out of the sky from 400 yards up. I felt like if I quit whistling, they’d quit too. So I kept flutter whistling as they worked us, and worked us, then worked us again and then again, and one final time before they winged off. Dang!
That was beautiful!
I hope we’ll be seeing you this season. If you haven’t booked yet, we still have awesome guides who need more work. Call 252-261-7842
-November 14, 2014
November! It’s more than the weekend after Thanksgiving.-
Don’t get me wrong. Huge numbers of memories get made during the long weekend that pen-raised turkeys fear the most of all long weekends. It’s just that the rest of the month goes largely ignored by water fowlers.
And that’s not entirely such a bad thing for a professional guide. The two and a half weeks that lead up to the ‘weekend turkeys fear’ is kind of a duck hunting shake-down cruise.
Let’s face it, in my mind a good guide is going to hunt whether he has clients or not. He knows that clients are a good thing because they give him money. And more money seems to make the home front more peaceful. That’s always good.
And more money lets the guide give his cleverer friends some of the ‘more’ money he makes to fix his mechanical vexations-like carburetors, water pumps, gas lines and hydraulic…….stuff. And another dollop of the ‘more’ money lets the guide buy stuff that he really needs. Things like face-paint and balaclavas and shotgun shells that are stuffed with ma-tee-ree-all (When it costs this much you really want to get the most out of it) that seemingly is more expensive than carats. In these ways a guide does what he can to help fix the economy. In this way-he did do his best to fix our broken economy-our guide can now proceed to the rest of the duck season with stuff he really needs, machinery that works and a clear conscience.
But, what was my point regarding November?
My point is this. Four or five of those days in November are goind to be four or five of the best shoots of the entire 2014-15 waterfowling season…and they’re going to be enjoyed only by the guides and their murderous bastard buddies. Why? Because the paying clients have decided not to risk the other side of November, which is god-awful blue bird days. In the three weeks of November you’re also liable to have seven or eight of the absolute slowest shoots of the entire season. I like to call them ‘why aren’t we fishing?’ days.
But, good guides; we don’t care. We know when we signed on that we’ve got to sit through the slow days to get to the awesome ones, and that the singular most awesome events can happen on slow days too.
Right now, we’re five days into the November season and the few guides who’ve worked have harvested-on average-nearly eight ducks a trip. And the ‘filler ducks-buffle heads, ruddies and the like-aren’t even here yet. Everything shot so far are good, big ducks. Mostly puddlers………..just saying.
Tomorrow is going to sport NNW winds at 25-30 knots! The high is going to be 41 degrees. It’s going to spit rain/sleet/snow for the first time this fall. This same front set record low barometric readings on its way across the country.
Sounds like a perfect water fowler’s dream! And it’s going to get even colder the day after. And, guess what……wait for it now…..We only have one pair of gunners for the next two days.!!!
You know when you talk to ‘that guy’, and he goes on and on about the great hunt they had, and nobody else was there, and the guide was so much fun, and the motors all worked and the guide had the latest shades of face paint and a bitchin’ new balaclava……
I guess all I can say is, “You should have been here tomorrow.”
All that being said, I just had to hire a new guide, and two old guides have come back to the fold, which means that we have a couple more spaces available on every day of the season-including weekends! And, the new guy is Devin Cage who owns and captains the boat, “Poacher.” A fishing/hunting rock star if ever one lived.
Give us a call!
9/22/14 Above is pic of Vic teaching Dylan (Matt’s son) to call teal in this early season. Is he a little cutie or what?
Welcome to the 2014-15 duck, goose and swan hunting seasons.
Because of the weather extremes and high harvest counts, last season will be remembered as an epic event. The fact that we handled the harsh conditions as well and as safely as we did speaks volumes about the professionalism of our service and our guides! Ellen and I could not be prouder of the people we work with. They take care of you and us, so we do our best to take care of them.
To that end, and in response to persistant inflation and other services all raising their rates-we’ve been forced to raise our guide fees this season to $200/man/day. Every cent of the fee raise will be given to the guides so that they can continue to provide our customers with the best blinds, equipment and services available. We thank you for your understanding.
This should be another super strong water fowling season. Breeding numbers are way up for most all of the duck species across the board this summer so the migration this fall should be quite impressive. Hunters are booking their trips earlier this year so some dates are starting to fill up. If you want to bring a large group or have a very narrow window in which you can hunt, you’d probably be best to start planning and give us a call sooner rather than later.
I, to be honest, really don’t pay much attention to how other hunting regions trend or fare each year. I do pay rabid attention to how our region fares. (Especially since I have records going back almost four decades.) What I can say about how our region is trending is this: THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS!
Every season of the last eight or ten just gets stronger due in large part to good waterfowl breeding, better blinds and the best available guides. It also doesn’t hurt that Outer Banks Waterfowl has had 38 (!) years to fine-tune our product. Please don’t be fooled by copy-cat businesses or fly-by-nights or similar sounding business names. Decades of expertise DOES matter. As in most any case you can think of, it’s best to go with the people everyone else are copying rather that the profiteers who will suck you dry and potentially risk your lives.
All I’m saying is that you’re best off with the innovators and stalwarts rather than the rip-offs and newbies. If they’ll steal and latch onto our business name, can you expect any different in your regard? Just sayin’….
Vic and OBW: Professionals since 1977.
Anybody who has hunted with me eventually tunes into the fact that I endure hunting nearly every day of every gunning season because that is the only way to guarantee that you’ll be there for the ‘good’ day(s). And then you take that thought one more step and you find yourself sitting through every slow day in a season just so you don’t miss one of the few most vividly intense and most lasting moments of an entire gunning season.
In a day’s surf session I paddle till I’m exhausted just so that I can catch and ride the five best formed, biggest and longest waves available during that day. This is also my mindset during an entire gunning season. I hunt voraciously because I want to experience the five awesomest things that can be seen/experienced over that period of time. And I don’t limit this to only ducks.
It may be an otter wrestling with a decoy, me catching a big live flounder with my bare hand, whiffing on a five hundred member (plus) flock of redheads, or watching the pure chaos of a peregrine falcon diving into a flock of decoying widgeon: I’ve seen and done these things and yes, they are worth waiting for.
This year I found myself 2 feet from a 700 pound black bear boar, in a ripe white cotton field between a 350 pound mama black bear and her three cubs, hunting in a tree with a great horned owl at arm’s length, whiffing on a huge swoosh of redheads and two hours later dropping a clean, two shot double out of a fourteen bird redhead flock. The female of the pair had a Federal band on her right leg.
You could try to make these kinds of things up, but if you did, nobody’d believe you. They might not believe you if you don’t make it up either, but that won’t matter because you did see it. And that is the wealth that I’ll take to my dotage, and that’s why I hunt so hard.
That show that just gobsmacked you; those baby bear heads popping up seemingly everywhere out of the white ripe cotton like a bizzare live whack-a-mole game as the moma bear stands staring at you from thirty yards away…Yeah! That show was just for me, but you’ll take my word for it because I’ve seen too much to make stuff up.
If the question is, “When do I have to hunt in order to get in on one of those awesome hunts you guides keep talking about?” The answer is:
“Every day, and usually, all day too.”
The 2013/14 waterfowl season registers in my recollecting, as oddly successful. Oddly, in that we didn’t really get to harvest a few of the species that we most expect to in a typical waterfowl season.
Usually, our filler ducks (what’s most abundant, that you fill your limit with) are Currituck’s green wing teal, blue bills and buffleheads. Any of those three species can contribute 500 plus birds to bag in any given season. None did this year, although, in the case of the bluebills, that was mostly due to our available limits being halved-from four birds to two.
Our happy surprise this year were the redheads that were scattered everywhere, and were taken somewhere, on most days all season. We also had a healthy dose of pintail throughout. I don’t care who you are or where you’ve hunted, if you’re looking at pairs of big, male redheads and pintail stored away in your blind, then you’ve got a smile on your face. Nothing ‘happy’s up’ a duck blind like drake pintails and the redheads are a heck of a kicker.
Also in good numbers were the widgeon in November (plus a good pintail presence) and gadwalls at the tail end of January. Another promising trend this year were the varied scoters that nearly over-ran a few of our guides’ blinds. Due to lumping all scoters into the ‘sea ducks’ category, I’m not sure that I’ve apportioned the three separate scoter species correctly as, when in doubt, I tally them all the predominant scoter species-the surf scoter. Having said all of that, we shot a lot more scoters than we usually do, and I personally passed on several chances at the most scarce white winged scoter.
Next to a paucity of g.w.teal in Currituck, the total lack of brant was most vexing. Some of our blinds really depend on them. And snow geese. We only got one single snow goose all season long. Wow!
Any way. Our season total, 1686, is the third hightest in our 36 year history and the 26 species taken are a lot of species, I don’t care where you hunt. We also topped out wwith over 500 puddlers so, like I said earlier, it was an oddly successful year.
How do you put a value on scoring a double on drake pintail, or getting over-run by a gargantuan ‘swoosh’ of red heads?
Coming soon, videos! For now, you can go to our facebook page (Outerbanks waterfowl) and see it. Don’t forget to like us!
This falls into the “What a difference a day makes category.”
On January 2nd, we had ten groups hunting. At the end of the day, each guide’s tallies were: 1) 2 pintail, 1 lesser scaup and one bufflehead, 2) skunk, 3) 2 ruddy ducks, 2 redheads and a canvasback, 4) skunk, 5)24 buffleheads, 6) 1 bufflehead, 7) skunk, 8) skunk, 9) 1 mallard, 1 lesser scaup, 10) 5 ruddies and a bufflehead.
On January 3rd, we get wallopped with a major winter storm. The storm is so ferocious that only 5 of the 13 guides can get out.
On January 4th, our 13 guides get all their parties out. Check out these totals: 1) 6 redheads, one black, 2 widgeon, 2 l. scaup and a bufflehead, 2) 5 widgeon, 1 pintail, 4 l. scaup, 4 white winged scoters, and 4 bufflehead, 3) 12 surf scoters, 5 buffleheads, and a l. scaup, 4) 8 surf scoters, 9) 2 pintail, a bufflehead and 4 hooded mergansers, 10) a greater bluebill, 11) a teal and a gadwall, 12) 6 redheads, 1 greater scaup, and 3 l. scaup, 13) 4 gadwall, 2 mallard, a widgeon, 1 l. scaup, 7 ruddies and 3 buffleheads.
Or how about this hunt on Monday, the 6th? Two gunners shoot 5 boxes of shells each! Between that, and a little help back-up shooting by the guide, they ended the day with 2 canvasbacks, 3 l. scaup, 1 widgeon, 3 gw teal, and 4 gadwalls. If you do the math, they shot 250 bullets!
Or this hunt on the 7th with a three man group and guide shooting back-up: 7 redheads, 8 l. scaup, 4 gadwall, a teal and 2 pintail. Not to be outdone, another guide with a three man group tallied 11 teal, 8 pintail, 3 widgeon, a red head and a gadwall. Each group was done by noon.
Finally, yesterday, the eighth, one of our guides scored 6 gadwall, a pintail, 2 blacks, a mallard, 5 shovellers, and 2 hooded mergansers, while another guide accounted for 8 redheads, a black duck and a teal.
We’re going full-tilt till the season’s end and we get to shoot Canadas (with permit) begining today. We surpassed the 1000 fowl mark this week, and are adding as many fowl as our clients have the skill to shoot.
More later, Vic
January, the third, 2014.
That’s the day that this waterfowl season kicked into a higher gear. After a very productive November split the season bogged down for a couple weeks as we dealt with, first, a full moon and clear skies and second, a period of doldrums that featured warm temperatures and slack winds.
Then, winter storm “Hercules” swept into town. Whoa! What a difference a day makes. Eight of our thirteen guides couldn’t even hunt safely due to 35-45 mph winds and had to cancel. Wah! I couldn’t even get to my marsh safely.
Of the five guides who could get out, three survived and two thrived. Of the thrivers, one got 5 redheads, (4 drakes!), 3 pintail, 2 gadwall, 6 teal, 2 blue bills and a snow goose! The other thriver hunted with a one man party and they had to quit at noon with limits. They got 6 gadwall, 2 black ducks and 4 teal.
And then on Saturday: Holy Crow, but that was a fun day. Thirteen guides accounted for 128 fowl which included 15 separate species! The winds of the day before finally managed to discombobulate the giant masses of fowl that’ve been holed up in the various refuges and gun club ponds, and finally moved them out where we could have a fair chance at them. Our guys do real good when we get our chance.
My hunt was fairly typical for the day, as we ended up with 6 gadwall, 6 pintail, and a greater scaup. We also got to watch two to three hundred pintail dribble out of the refuge in a steady flow for three hours in the afternoon. What we got to bring to the bag wasn’t even a fraction of the visual thrills that we enjoyed as we worked birds every now and again, off and on all day long!
And now we’re staring into the teeth of the deepest freeze we’ve had in the last quarter century. Woo hoo! There’s going to be some fowl shot this week! We may have to cancel some trips due to extreme icing and I apologise-to no one-for putting safety first. But those of us who can get out are going to be in for a treat. Make no doubt, it will be extreme, and cold, and a lot of work. But what we may be priviledged to witness….This is why we do what we do. More later…. Vic