John's Journal...

Sea Ducks on the Chesapeake with Wayne Radcliffe

Weather for Sea Ducks

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Without question, one of the most-exciting waterfowl hunts I’d ever taken was a sea-duck hunt this year along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Tons of ducks, a layout boat and plenty of good friends made this a great hunt. To learn more about sea duck hunting, I talked with Wayne Radcliffe, the territory manager for Avery Outdoors, a well-known company that specializes in waterfowling products. Today Jeff Coats, my primary guide for sea ducks, made some of the outstanding photos shown.

Question: Wayne, what kind of weather do you need for the best sea-duck hunting?
Radcliffe: When we first left this morning, the air temperature was 9 degrees with a 5-mile-per-hour wind coming out of the south. Once we got our decoys set up, the wind picked uClick to enlargep. When we finally got our decoys out, we were hunting in a 10- to 15-mph wind, which was perfect for shooting out of a layout boat. You want a little chop on the water to help hide the layout boat. The ducks can’t see the layout boat as well if there’s a chop on the water as they can when there’s no chop on the water.

Question: I notice you’ve got a little water in the layout boat. How did that happen?
Radcliffe: The last time we went hunting, my good buddy, George Zahradka didn’t strap my layout boat tight enough to my tender boat. A big windstorm came along and blew the layout boat off the tender boat. The layout boat hit the asphalt and cracked a little bit. Ever since then, the layout boat has been taking a little water. But it’s not really that bad because we wear waders inside the layout boat. We like thClick to enlargee neoprene waders for three reasons – they keep us from getting wet, they’re warm, and the neoprene is soft when we’re sitting.

Question: Why do you think there aren’t more people hunting sea ducks?
Radcliffe: Sea-duck hunting is a lot of hard work and requires plenty of equipment. You need a tender boat, which is usually a big center-console boat with a 100-to-300 horsepower engine on it. Then you either need to have a number of decoys, or you need to build V-boards, like I talked about in Day 2. We’ve found that to really do sea-duck hunting right, you need a layout boat. When you consider that you usually need six to eight people with you, that’s a lot of people and work to take sea ducks. Now, plenty of people hunt sea ducks the traditional way from big tender boats and blind boats. There aren’t many people who run layout boats like we do.

Question: How much does a layout boat usually cost?Click to enlarge
Radcliffe: They usually cost from $1500 to $2500, depending on the boat’s material.

For more information on hunting sea ducks in Chesapeake Bay, write Wayne Radcliffe at 11413 Glen Arm Road, Glen Arm, MD 21057, or call (901) 481-6253, or email To experience a Maryland sea duck hunt, contact Jeff Coats, the pit boss, who has all the equipment and has hunted sea ducks for most of his life. To set up a sea duck hunt with Jeff Coats, call (410) 937-4034, or email, or visit To learn more about Avery Outdoors’ top-quality waterfowling products, go to Visit the Mighty Layout Boys at to learn more about their boats and other products.

Tomorrow: From North Dakota to Sea Ducks at the Chesapeake

Check back each day this week for more about "Sea Ducks on the Chesapeake with Wayne Radcliffe"

Day 1: Sea Ducks, the Set Up
Day 2: Sea Ducks are Getting Popular
Day 3: Weather for Sea Ducks
Day 4: From North Dakota to Sea Ducks at the Chesapeake
Day 5: Sea-Duck Hunting Over the Years


Entry 440, Day 3