John's Journal...

Sea Ducks on the Chesapeake with Wayne Radcliffe

From North Dakota to Sea Ducks at the Chesapeake

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, including Todd Haga from North Dakota, Wayne Radcliffe, George Zahradka, Jeff Kreit and other members of the Avery Outdoors Field Staff Team made this a great hunt. Today Jeff Coats, my primary guide for sea ducks, made some of the outstanding photos shown.

Question: Todd, what do you think about sea-duck hunting?
Haga: This probably is the most-awesome duck hunt I’ve ever been on in my entire life. It’s a totally-different type of duck hunting than taking mallards on ponds like I do back home in North Dakota. You get to lay out in a boat in the Chesapeake Bay and shoot at these beautiful ducks. The entire adventure is a hoot. Click to enlarge

Question: What did you like best about sea-duck hunting?
Haga: I like laying out in the boat and having the ducks come straight at me. The ducks come in low and fast, and getting accustomed to sitting up and shooting at them takes awhile.

Question: If someone asked, would you go sea-duck hunting again?
Haga: In a heartbeat. This is so much fun because it’s different from any other type of duck hunting I’ve ever done before. I liked being out on the water all day with a group of friends, and even after I got my limit of ducks, I enjoyed watching the other hunters in the layout boat get their limits. And, I had fun picking up ducks and being part of the tender-boat crew.

Question: George, you’ve hunted sea ducks for 25 years. Why do you continue to hunt them?
Zahradka: I grew tired of taking mallards. Also, the limit on mallards is low, Click to enlargewhereas the limit on sea ducks is high. When I started sea-duck hunting, you could take 10 sea ducks a day and there was hardly anyone else hunting them.

Question: How many sea-ducks can you take now per day per person?
Zahradka: You can take four scoters per person and one old squaw.

Question: How often do you go sea-duck hunting?
Zahradka: That depends on the weather. I don’t like to go unless there’s a little bump on the water. I like 1-1/2- to 2 feet of chop on the water, which is perfect for hiding the layout boat. That chop gets the birds moving around. Too, if you do get the ideal weather, you have to be able to quickly get a crew together. Oftentimes, we’ll get good weather during the middle of the week when a lot of people have to work and may not be able to take time off to hunt sea ducks. I prefer hunting in the middle of the week because there are hardly any other hunters on the water. You also need a couple of people who can run the big tender boat with experience in getting people out of the tender boat and into the layout boat and back. If you have a 3- to a 4-foot chop on the water, and someone who doesn’t know how to handle the boat well, you have a problem.

Question: George, you carry all your shells and other equipment you use in the layout boat in an Avery Power Hunter Blind Bag. Why do you like that blind bag?
Zahradka: It keeps everything dry. If it goes overboard, it floats. I can put four boxes of shells in the Avery Power Hunter Blind Bag. It’s not big or bulky, but it will carry everything you need in the layout boat. Click to enlarge

Question: How quick is the quickest you’ve ever taken your sea duck limit?
Zahradka: I’ve taken my personal limit in less than 10 minutes when the ducks were really flying. Often, with two people in the blind, we can get our 10 bird limit in 15 minutes.

Question: How many trips do you usually make a year?
Zahradka: We probably made 10 sea-duck trips last year, and the season usually doesn’t end until the third week of January.

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: Sea-Duck Hunting Over the Years

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 4