Our trip finally came and gone. 4 of us headed out to North Carolina last Wednesday morning in pursuit of filling out Tundra Swan tags. Me and another guy went for 3 days, and the other 2 fellas went for 5 days. We were mainly after the swans, but decided to knock a few more scoters off the list as well. We all had a really good time doing the Swan hunt, but the other days were absolutely terrible. Needless to say we will never go back to that place again. I'm just going to make this an honest post about my trip and the experience that we all had. We hunted with Culley Wilson who owns "Wild Wing Adventures."
Day 1 - Arrival
We showed up at a pretty nice lodge early that evening. Met Culley, settled in and relaxed. Ate ribeyes and sides that night for supper. The lodge is tucked away off the main road in the middle of some woods and farm land. There was a couple acres of flooded corn right up against a bunch of pines. We watched woodies and teal pile in that hole every night. Beautiful sight and sounds.
Day 2 - Swan Hunt
We left the lodge at 5:30am. Drove down the road about 45 minutes only to meet up with another guide/helper "Tyler." Me and my buddy rode along with Tyler to the field. The field we hunted is actually Tyler's grandpas land and Tyler did all of the scouting for this hunt. I quickly realized that Culley was just a middle man, which sort of rubbed me wrong at first, but no biggie...it's just how he runs his business.
We set up in a wheat field about 8am. About 4 dozen snow goose silo socks and just hid in a drainage ditch. Skies were dead for a while, but when the swans started to move, the action didn't stop. We all took turns taking our swans one at a time. After the hunt was over we just sat there and took pictures and videos. I think we had 3 video cameras rolling and 3 cameras taking pictures. We got a video of all of our kill shots so we could relive the hunt all over again. We all picked up and headed back to the lodge with our birds. Ate some lasagna that evening and watched the wood ducks and teal pile into the flooded corn again.
Day 3 - Sea Duck/Scoter Hunt
As I expected, we were no longer with our guide Culley anymore. He set us up to go with another guide named "Morgan." Morgan claimed he found 5,000 scoters and Oldsquaw rafted up about 20 minutes away from the ramp. We left the lodge that morning about 4am, heading to a boat ramp to meet Morgan. About an hour later and a few missed turns, we finally find the boat ramp. Met Morgan and his helper "Joseph." Morgan says I found a bunch of birds, I should have yall back at the ramp with full limits by 10am. Being a guide myself, I kinda caught the bull. We go out in a 22ft fiberglass boat about 20 minutes out. We set the scoter decoys, and anchor the boat. We stuck pine limbs around the boat for camouflage, and we waited. There were simply no birds there. Morgan looked at his phone the whole time, and kept saying the classic line "yall should of been here yesterday." Before you know it, he was digging for any excuse he could think of. After some time went by, 1 scoter decided to come our way, we couldn't tell if it was a surf scoter or a common scoter. We asked him what kind it was, and he simply didn't know. We ended the morning with 1 surf scoter...which, was not on our list by the way. We picked up and drove the boat around looking for ducks....it was pretty poor. So as Morgan promised, he had us back at the ramp at 10am. After we all changed our clothes and got comfy, I made some small talk with Morgan. I asked him how long he's been guiding for Culley, and he tells me that he doesn't. He said he's only done it once or twice. Well I'll be!! What a joke!!
We swing into town, snag some Chinese food, head back to the lodge and relax. That evening Morgan calls and says he found 10,000 birds. Apparently we're supposed to go with the same guy again the next morning. There was no way in heck I was going on another hunt with that guy.
After time goes by, Culley tells us that there are other hunters coming tonight, and that they have access to this lodge as part of a hunting club package. The other hunters were apparently pretty upset that we were there in the first place. There was plenty of rooms so there was no conflict, but it was just a crappy situation that we felt we were in. Culley took us out to eat in town to avoid confrontation with the other hunters when they arrived. We all had steak and shrimp and a few drinks. We hit the hay pretty quick after getting home.
Day 4 - Scoter/Sea Duck/Puddle Duck
Like I said, I wasn't going on this trip....so I didn't.
The report from my buddies that did go said it was another repeat of the day before. No birds, guide plays on his phone, 2 scoters swing by but Morgan doesn't see them due to being on phone. Finally, an oyster boat comes through and scares 2 scoters their way. They get both of them, 2 common scoters. Hip hip hooray. He gave the same excuses as the day before. Glad I didn't go and waste my money.
Meanwhile, I just cruise around the farmland and take pics all day long. Pretty relaxing actually. Not to mention I got to sleep until 6am for a change, that felt pretty good. I got up and talked with the other hunters who didn't want us there, apparently they hunt that flooded corn field every Saturday morning. Too bad they didn't even fire a shot. Seems if you aren't after swans, you aint gonna have much luck here. The hunters left before noon.
So that night out of nowhere, some other people show up. Apparently there was a little party planned at the lodge, guess we weren't getting any sleep again. We fired up the grill, I cooked swan, they cooked duck and ribs, so the food was all good. Me and my guys hit the hay, and the other people stayed up all night driving 4 wheelers around, yelling and screaming. I was more than ready to go home.
Day 5 - Flew Home
Day 6 - Scoters
Two of my friends were still there hunting. They didn't want to hunt with Morgan again, so Culley called up a different "guide." The guide straight up told them that he isn't even a guide, and he really has no idea what he's doing. So basically my buddies and this fella that took them out, just put their heads together and tried to make a hunt out of it. They got lucky and shot a few scoters that morning.
Day 7 - Flooded Corn
Well, on their last and final day to hunt, there wasn't even a guide to take them sea duck hunting. My buddies just woke up that morning, and walked to that flooded corn field. Shot a wood duck and a hooded merganser. Unreal
I will honestly say that if anybody wants to do a swan hunt and have a good time, I would recommend Culley again. Although, knowing that he doesn't do the scouting, I'd be sure to tip the guy who does. As far as sea ducks, go to Maine. It's much better up there. Anyway, here's a few pics.