When it comes to duck hunting, we’re more accustomed to hunting puddle ducks like mallards and wood ducks in fields and marshes. We all grew up hunting them in Ontario, in fact, and had a great time doing so.
When it comes to diver and sea duck hunting, we’ve only had the opportunity to hunt them a few times. But one thing we can tell you is hunting these fast flying ducks during the late season, when they are most abundant, is possibly the most fun a waterfowl hunter can have.
This year, we had the opportunity to hunt with Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters in South Eastern Ontario. They hunt a very large area of Ontario and spend a lot of time scouting to find the best places to go hunting. Since ducks are migratory animals, scouting is crucial when it comes to having a good duck hunt.
Our first hunt with Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters happened in early November. We were lucky to be joined by friend and NHL Analyst Brian Burke on this hunt.
After driving through a pretty heavy snowstorm, we arrived at Rideau Breeze Marina & Cottages, where we met up with the Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters crew and would be spending the night ahead of our hunt the next day. We enjoyed a great meal before prepping our gear and getting some rest.
The next morning came early, as we packed the truck and drove to the boat launch. We traveled through the dark and soon arrived on the small island we would be hunting. We were hunting on a large lake; the rocks surrounding the island were covered in ice and snow, and the wind was starting to pick up as the lines of decoys were being set and the panel blind was erected.
Before we knew, it the sun was rising and the ducks were starting to fly. We loaded our guns, and Dan and John from Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters got on the calls.
It was a cold morning with the wind chill almost hitting -20°, but the island was protecting us from the harshest wind. Strong winds are important for most waterfowl hunting, but especially for diver ducks. So even though it was cold, we were eager and happy to be out hunting.
We soon had our first flock of ducks quickly fly by us on our left and make a hard bank once they spotted our decoys. Then they put the landing gear down and came right in like they were reading the script. We jumped up at Dan’s call to take them, and we dropped a few very pretty common goldeneyes.
The rest of the morning continued to be full of shooting, with many ducks lured into our spread. We were humbled by some of the ducks as they dipped and dived in the air at incredible speeds, but luckily, we were able to eventually get the feel for these fast-moving ducks and ended the morning just shy of a four-man limit.
Back home, we got busy cleaning and cooking some of the ducks and had some really tasty meals.
Luckily for us, the area where Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters hunt is not far from our office, so when we got a call in mid-December that the divers and sea ducks were starting to pile up on Lake Ontario, we jumped at the chance to head back up to do another hunt.
This time Paul joined us, and we made the one and half hour drive up to Picton. For this hunt we would be hunting on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. We arrived at Merland Park Resort and got settled into our cozy cabin for the night.
The next morning, we drove to the meeting location and met up with Dan and John from Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters. After a bit of walk, we arrived at our hunting location, this time on a large rocky point that jetted out into the big body of water. The blind was setup and ready for us before we even arrived, so we were able to help Dan and John with setting out the lines of decoys. Once set and legal light arrived, we unpacked our guns and got them loaded.
As the sun broke the horizon, it revealed all the ice-covered trees that surrounded the point. The winds were fairly strong, and we could see lots of ducks flying and rafting up in the distance, which got us excited.
On this hunt we were mainly targeting diver ducks like goldeneyes, buffleheads, and a sea duck called the long-tailed duck. This very unique and special species is not typically found in many of the areas that we normally hunt, so we were really hoping we would get the chance at harvesting some. As luck would have it, not only was the first duck we shot a long-tailed duck, but most the ducks we would shoot that morning would turn out to be beautiful, full-plumage long-tailed ducks.
The action was very fast and furious, with the winds eventually picking up, creating big waves and a crashing surf. At one point it even started snowing heavily, which added to this very adventurous hunt.
With so many ducks in the area rafting up in different locations around us, it was proving challenging to trick the birds into our decoy spread. Many would fly by just on the outside edge of our shooting range. But as the wind picked up, it seemed to turn the switch and the ducks started to come in closer to the shoreline for us.
Once again, we were all humbled more times than we would like to admit at these speedy and agile birds. But we eventually got our lead times down and harvested a four-man limit.
This was definitely one of the most exciting waterfowl experiences we’ve had. The frozen landscape surrounding us, mixed with the crashing waves and more ducks than we could count, will make this a hunt we will always remember.
If you ever get the chance to hunt in South Eastern Ontario for diver and sea ducks, you have to do it, and we can tell you: Feed the Adrenaline Outfitters knows how to put you on a great hunt.