Sea Duck Hunting on Kodiak Island Alaska
Sea Duck Hunting on Kodiak Island Alaska
SEA DUCKS OFF KODIAK ISLAND
By Dan Wennerlind
KODIAK SPORTS AND TOUR- HuntTheNorth.com’s 2008 Outfitter Of The Year!
As of 2013 Kodiak Sports & Tour is now under new ownership of Port Lions Lodge and expert outfitter James Stegall. Port Lions Lodge continues to offer incredible Alaska Sea Duck Hunts and are committed to the enjoyment and satisfaction of their guests.
“Left, Left, Left! Take the drake on the left!” barked out veteran sea duck guide Scotty Phelps as Petee and I tag teamed three gorgeous drake Old Squaws. Action packed does not even begin to describe this hunting adventure. From the moment we set foot on the charter boat taking us from Kodiak City to the small fishing village of Port Lions, Alaska, the adventure began. We were immediately greeted by two Orca whales that briefly swam beside the boat and offered some amazing photo shots.
Then the resident sea otters started popping up left and right. Curious little creatures, they just had to see what we were up to. As we got closer to the village of Port Lions big flocks of greater scaup and sea quail started lifting off. Heck we even saw a harbor seal swim by the bow. And talk about a view- the landscape was amazing and the temperature wasn’t bad either, considering it was mid December. The temps were over 40 degrees with sunny skies as we made our way across Kizhuyak Bay. That was one big misconception that outfitter Gerrit Hintz of Kodiak Sports and Tour cleared up for us right away. He stated that the winters on Kodiak Island are typically very moderate averaging 30 degrees all winter long, with the exception of a few cold spells and fronts that quickly pass through from time to time. It was a very exciting start to the trip.
That evening, over a five star meal of halibut steaks and home style potatoes at the Kodiak Paradise Lodge, guide Scotty Phelps sat down with all four members of our group which consisted of Chuck Ellingson, Matt Endrizzi, Kris “Petee” Peterson and myself. He asked us what our specific goals were for the trip. Scotty explained to us that we would have multiple opportunities to take almost every species of sea duck. Sport fishing for halibut was also an option since we were all properly licensed and we could all harvest one of the island’s trophy silver, red and hybrid foxes that commonly roam the shorelines at low tide. With so much to do it was going to be hard to fit it all into a 5 day trip.
As we hopped onto Gerrit’s 32 foot tender boat the next day Scotty gave us a thorough run down on all of the safety features. He also shared with us the do’s and don’ts for the trip as mistakes in this country can be costly. The boat came fully equipped with a complimentary concession bar, extra dry clothes and a home cooked hot lunch prepared daily by Gerrit’s lovely wife Claudia. No detail went unattended to that was for sure. As we pulled out of port I had to admire their set up. We had a two man layout boat hoisted on a rack over the top of the main boat, while we pulled an 18 foot “assault vessel” as Gerrit called it. We were ready for anything!
Scotty said that our group size of four hunters was perfect as we would be hunting in groups of two throughout the trip. Our goal would be to get three sets in each day. Two of us would hunt out of the layout boat while the other two would do a shore set up. We would be targeting specific species of waterfowl with each set. Scotty explained that we would most likely take harlequin, bufflehead, barrows and common goldeneye as well as red breasted and common mergansers from the shore set. The layout boat hunters could expect to take old squaw, common, white winged and surf scoters. Scotty’s 20 years of Alaska waterfowl hunting experience were going to pay off big! I had to ask our guides how many other outfitters in the area had such extensive duck hunting equipment. Scott stated that there were a couple of other outfitters that guide sea duck hunters on the island and a few locals that hunt but overall there is very little pressure. He also said that Kodiak Sports and Tour was the only one in the area with a two man layout boat system, which he has found to be the most effective and enjoyable style of hunting and targeting individual species of sea ducks.
As we headed 25 miles out from base camp to Shelikof Straight, Scotty explained that they only get out this far once or twice a season, weather permitting, and today we were in luck. With calm seas and plenty of waterfowl in this remote area, we were in for a great hunt. Today Matt and I were up first for the layout boat. Gerrit set us up right in the middle of two land spits so any incoming ducks would have to fly right through us. It only took about 45 minutes before Matt and I each had our limit of 7 sea ducks a piece. We took a mixed bag of six gorgeous harlequin drakes, a common merganser, three drake common scoters and then dumped a four pack of white winged scoters to end the hunt. Truly amazing!
After lunch, it was Chuck and Petee’s turn. With the seas F.A.C. (flat ass calm) as they call it, we pushed on even further to a remote bay which was as far out as we could go. We quickly found large flocks of common scoters, white winged scoters and old squaws. After putting Chuck and Petee into the layout rig, we drifted down about a ½ mile and watched the action. First Chuck dropped a beautiful drake old squaw. Then Petee had a pair of harlequins come in on his side and took a nice double. When the smoke finally cleared, the boys had a nice mixed bag and ended the day on a positive note.
After the third day’s hunt, Scott and Gerrit sat down with us to see how our individual trophy lists were coming along.
I was still missing two old squaw drakes, one white winged scoter and one drake surf scoter. The rest of the boys were right on pace only missing a duck or two here and there. The next morning we started off with a halibut drift through “Whale Pass” before it got light to see if the bite was on. Petee quickly hooked into a nice 15 pounder but that was it. The bite was off and so were we. Our guides told us that today we would be splitting up and doing a spot and stalk type mission to make sure that everybody was able to take the remaining ducks they desired. The plan was to spot a targeted flock, slowly motor up within 80 yards and then drift into the flock while picking out the nicest drake. As soon as the birds lifted off we were able to take the best drake in the flock. This was very effective as Chuck and I had our first chance to hunt together. We each took our remaining old squaws and white winged scoters. Although the trophy King Eider eluded us this trip, none of us were too disappointed as Scotty had forewarned us that a chance at that bird would be peer luck and we should not expect it.
That night we enjoyed another round of spectacular hors d’ oeuvres and a most memorable meal of king crab and steak for dinner with all the fixings! A home made chocolate cake topped off the meal and we were all completely stuffed. We found this to be a common problem at The Kodiak Paradise Lodge. One by one we all fell off to bed that night as we watched season 3 of “The Deadliest Catch” on the big screen which both of our guides had been apart of at one time or another. Not a job I would want after hearing their stories let me tell you.
I was up bright and early for our last day’s hunt. With the pressure off, it was time to sit back and take it all in. It was sure nice not to be struggling for birds at the last minute. Since Petee still wanted one more drake barrows goldeneye and Chuck and Matt were content with a shoreline hunt, Gerrit sat with them on a relaxing shore hunt while Scotty and I went off on a fox hunting adventure. I was amazed at how fast the fox responded to Scott’s jack rabbit distress call. Our first set took a matter of 15 minutes from start to finish. Right off the bat we had a big dog come barreling in on us. Unfortunately he came in from behind and I was unable to take a shot.
No worries Scotty said there are plenty more around. We hopped back in the boat and moved down another ½ mile and did the same routine. On the second set, I had a nice little female come racing by me at less than three yards! Five sets and six fox later I finally found the one I was looking for. It was a gorgeous male red and silver cross and weighed in at nearly 35 pounds- about the size of a coyote in the lower 48. What a thrill!
As we headed back to meet up with the rest of the crew, we found that they had a decent hunt as well taking a mixed bag of 8 nice divers. We decided that with the last few hours left on our trip, we would take one more shot at some deep sea fishing. Ten minutes into the first drift, Matt hooked into a 40 pound halibut. Now this time of year the fish were deep and pulling in a fish that size from 330 feet down is no easy task. Within the next 20 minutes I hooked into two nice halibut between 20 – 35 pounds. The bite was definitely on! Next it was Petee’s turn as he pulled in two nice 20 pound halibut. In between, Chuck was reeling in cod after cod. As the sun hit the horizon, we were all grinning from ear to ear and enjoyed the last few minutes of our great Alaskan adventure together!
That evening, I sat down with Gerrit and Scott while they boxed up our trophies for the long trip home. I shared with them our many thanks as this trip was everything we had hoped for and more. From the Five Star meals and lodging to the World Class waterfowling and fishing. I was most pleased to announce to them that Kodiak Sports and Tour would be named the HuntTheNorth.com 2008 Outfitter Of The Year!
FOR MORE INFORMATION THIS FANTASTIC WATERFOWL HUNTING ADVENTURE CONTACT
Port Lions Lodge
Outfitter: James Stegall
HUNT THE NORTH
more photos from the trip
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