All About North Carolina Swan Hunting: Part 2. January 23, 2012
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Chance plays a significant part in any hunt, and the impact of weather conditions on waterfowl migrations directly controls the likelihood of success on any waterfowl hunt. On Part 2 of North Carolina Swan Hunting, I continued to Nags Head and duck hunted the public blinds at Bodie Island on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore after taking my swan the previous day near Lake Mattamuskeet. In this episode I describe my hunt in very warm weather and contrasted it with another hunt two years ago when everything was frozen solid. On that hunt I harvested a swan with an original 1842 British musket loaded with non-toxic shot.
Hurricane Irene had swept through coastal North Carolina and damaged the blinds at Bodie Island to the extent that they could no longer be safely occupied. In many cases shooting locations had been shifted to points where the hunters could set up on shore, but needed to stand during the entire hunt or bring their own stools or marsh seats. I improvised a seat by putting my decoy tub (a reinforced mortar box) over a hummock of march grass on my second day’s hunt at blind number 19, which was on a deep-water pond. Two days of hunting from this location failed to produce any ducks. I could have called in some swan, but did not attempt it for fear of pulling them away from other hunters who might have permits.
Swan migrations are less impacted by weather conditions than ducks and geese. During the 2011-12 hunting season warm conditions prevented large-scale movements of most species of ducks and snow geese down the Eastern Flyway to coastal North Carolina. By the time I hunted during the last week in December, some gadwalls were down, the teal had arrived, there were very few snow geese and only the resident Canadian geese were apparently present. Swan numbers were about the same as seen on previous hunts. Those who were fortunate enough to draw one of the swan tags did not have any problems getting their birds, provided that they drew a blind location that was on one of the ponds at Bodie Island that the swan regularly used.
Both the Thompson/Center Arms’ Black Mountain Magnum 12-gauge shotgun and the original .75-caliber (11-gauge) British musket that I used were loaded with 1 3/8ths ounces of number 4 HeviShot contained in plastic shot-cup wads to keep from abrading the guns’ barrels with the hard tungsten-based shot. In the Black Mountain Magnum I used 100 grains of Hodgdon’s Triple Seven powder and in the British musket 100 grains of FFg GOEX black powder. Over the powder I use a stiff 1/4-inch cardboard wad (available in 11 and 12 gauges from Dixie Gun Works), a buffer of 20 grains of Cream of Wheat and then load the shot cups, shot and top the assembly with two appropriate sizes of thin over-shot wads. Both guns were fired with CCI musket caps.
Interviews in the Nags Head area included one with John Bone, head of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce who outlined various winter activities and the facilities available in the area and John Wright, the owner of Sanctuary vineyards. Wright makes succpernon-based and European varietal wines from grapes grown on his family’s lands at Jarvesburg, on the mainland across the causeway from Kitty Hawk. His wines are only available from the Cotton Gin stores on the Outer Banks and a few other locations. On the show we tasted some of these wines as well as two others bottled by the Duplin Winery for the Native Vine shop located at the western end of the Kitty Hawk bridge. Duplin products are sometimes available at Wal-Mart stores and provide a nation-wide opportunity to sample these excellent wines.
The Sanctuary Vineyard does have an on-line presence, and you can visit their website at www.sanctuaryvineyards.com. John is continuously experimenting with his wines and can be depended upon to offer some new winds each year. Often, a portion of the sale price of these wines is used to promote local causes such as museums and cultural events. Sampling these wines is a unique activity that is available all year to hunters, surf fishermen, bird watchers, photographers and others who visit the Outer Banks during the magical mid-Winter months when the throngs of Summer tourists are absent.
On line information for all area attractions is available to potential visitors from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau at www.outerbanks.org, telephone no. (877) 629-4386, as well as from the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce at www.outerbankschamber.com, telephone no. (252) 441-8144. The Bureau has a very informative booklet that they will mail to those who request it.
Ads on this show are from the Packaging Division of Buy Cheap, Make Cheap, Sell Cheap, who provides packaging that is only strong enough to stock on store shelves, but will instantly fail when used, making to customer return sooner to buy more products. Also, SIN, Inc., (Synthetic Industrial Non-Nutritives, Inc.) was pleased to announce that their standout product, Puke Vodka, is now available in 5-gallon and 1-gallon pails for home consumption, so that the user can receive the full impact of his drinking experience in the safety of his own home.