Updated: Mar 27
Gunning over the decoys has been quite a journey from design drawings to final carvings and floating the King rig out in the Labrador Sea. The plan was to load a small zodiac up with the decoys and long lines and run over to the island and set them up. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! We faced a few challenges during this operation of the hunt. The main challenge was not taking into consideration the strength of the current. Sea ducking at home is one thing, but in Greenland it is a totally different animal. Around all these islands along Greenland's coast make for some really turbulent waters. It was very difficult to figure out what way the tide was moving as it pushed the decoys lines. No faster did we set the lines, the decoys would quickly push back into the rocks. When that happens, we go back and fix the lines again. After the third time doing this, we moved to a different location on the island that we thought was executable and a little less turbulent so the anchors could hold. The lines did eventually move on us but it was still not too bad of a setup. We had a few groups work for us, but the birds did not commit like we hoped. We did a little shooting but most of the birds were quite far and at this point we all called it an early day so we could take the girls into town and do a little shopping. So before we left, I photographed the rig in the water. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for photos, but not for the ducks.
Our last chance for the girls to get their birds. The morning started for me just like it had for the last 3 days. I woke up to watch a beautiful sun rise but only to find out it was cloudy and windy. The temperature outside was 24 degrees, and the High was to be 30 degrees. Much colder and, as some hunters might say, duckier. We hop on board the MS STERNA for the last time and motored off to the great unknown. Today was cold, windy and dark. Captain Erik says that today should be a good day. The weather was perfect and the birds should feed hard. He explains we should get snow and it will trigger the birds to feed. With some optimism in the air, we get Sharon and Karoline ready to shoot. Just as we arrived at the hunting grounds, Erick tells me that there is a hen king just off the bow. I looked at Sharon and asked do you want to shoot it? Without hesitation she says yes! As we get ready to move to the front of the bow, she takes off and flies away. Damn, I think to myself as we make our way to the shooting positions. Like before, we move into positions as the girls take their shots. Some birds get peppered and some just miss behind. After a while, the cold would get the better of them and Ed and I would take over. One by one, we shoot as the birds take off. Just like before, we miss or just touch them enough to let them know we were there. Finally, one pair of kings lets us get within range, with the wind to our backs, they run off the water towards us and I place a single shot on my third drake of the trip. While up at bat, Ed was able to take a few good shots on some northern Eiders or Borealis, as they are most commonly known. These Beautiful Black and white sea ducks are highly populated in Greenland. In fact, Southwest Greenland provides wintering grounds for more than 70% of the world's northern common eider (Somateria Mollissima Borealis). This species is slightly smaller than its Atlantic cousins (Somateria Mollissima Dresseri) and looks very similar to their larger cousins (Somateria Mollissima v-nigrum) in the Pacific.
As the morning ends and we hit mid afternoon, we are greeted with more wind and snow. Again Sharon and Karoline are back at it, giving it everything they got! Eventually, I stayed up front to give them some backup if needed. In my mind, if one of them shoots a bird and goes down, I'm damn sure not going to let it dive away! Not long after, a hen king eider presents herself and Sharon gets ready. I can see in her posture she was determined to take this bird down. Surprisingly, the Queen allowed us to make our way to her within the 40 yard mark. As we move in closer and closer, she finally runs off and Sharon jumps up. Bang! The first shot slows her down. As I watched it all unfold, it was like watching a rookie highlight reel in slow motion.Bang! The second shot rings out and the sound of thunder once again fills the surrounding mountains as my brother watches from the back of the boat. She goes down splashing and tumbling into the water! Instinctively, I take another shot just to be sure the
Queen is down. As we go to retrieve Sharon's prize, I hear from behind me... Did you shoot that Mike? And like a proud husband I say no, Sharon did! Looking back with so much joy I kept thinking to myself ... always in the last moments in the hunt she pulls it off! Now cold and hungry and sore, Sharon retires for the day and watches us from inside a warm cabin. I soon took her spot and it was not long after we pulled up to a group of kings. We moved in for the shot and as soon as they took off a single drake came broad side of me again and I took my shot Bang, hit him full pattern but only slowed him down. Bang, Second shot rings out taking down my fourth and final King of the trip. While I looked back at Erik, I made a comment... The first shot slowed him down! And with a big grin on his face, he shook his head and said laughingly... Yes it did! Now cold and tired, Ed moves up to take my place as I move back to get some food and warm up a bit. During this time, I watch Ed and Karoline take their shots. Watching from the Back of the boat, I noticed a large group of kings just out front of us. Erik calls out, Kings out front! slowly we make our way into position. I kept thinking to myself this is it, Karoline is going to get one. Just as Erik moves into position, the group runs off the water, never presenting themselves with a good shot. While I watch, my heart sinks a little and then out of nowhere I see Ed raise the Benelli Super Black Eagle III, Bang! the thunder cries out and I see something hit the water. Then Bang! Another shot! and the boat cheers! as I walked up to see what was going on. Ed tells me he just shot one that had popped up from under the boat. Ed calls it whack a mole. The anticipation was thick in the air. We did not know what he looked like, and as my brother pulled him out of the net all I heard come out of his mouth was "Oh my God!" When he pulled the bird out of the net it was clear, he had shot a bruiser as well! Another dream bird on board the MS STERNA. As the afternoon moved on. I had finally got the opportunity to shoot a Borealis drake completing my trip to the great northern eider grounds. Unfortunately Karoline did not get her bird. Many attempts were made, but the stars just did not align. Hopefully one day we can all make it back to this amazing place and have our chances to hunt Greenland Kings once again.
For more information on Greenland Eider Hunting contact Midwest Hunting Consultants and ABC Charters for more information.