Cold Bay, Alaska, waterfowl hunting world-renown Izembek Lagoon is an exceptional Alaska wingshooting experience that includes sea duck hunting for Harlequin, scoters and occaisonal eiders, Pacific Black Brant hunting, puddle duck hunting for pintails, mallards and even a few Eurasian wigeons, ptarmigan hunting, Canada Goose hunting. Also available is inland and offshore fishing for salmon, dolly varden, char and halibut.
The area is as wildlife-rich as it is captivatingly beautiful. Hunters often observe brown bears, caribou, eagles, seals, and sea otters during this incredible waterfowl hunting adventure. There is no better place in the world to see wild Emporer Geese in their natural environs. Your outfitter has 10-plus years professional experience in Cold Bay; is best qualified to ensure guest safely and efficiently reap fullest enjoyment from Cold Bay Alaska wingshooting paradise.
Waterfowl hunting takes place mostly on Izembek Lagoon and surrounding wetlands. Hunting locations are typically boat accessible. Large spreads of species-specific decoys - that will be the first and last that many birds see for the season - include custom-painted Pacific Black Brant decoys, Canada goose decoys and duck decoys to lure them within very close range. The best gear possible and excellent calling makes duck hunting successful and enjoyable. Nearby freshwater ponds and lakes produce excellent fast-paced duck and goose hunts, too, as large, thirsty flocks arrive. Other great spots are just a short hike from the road when nasty weather prohibits boating.
Izembek Lagoon is an internationally-significant wetland that encompasses the largest native eelgrass beds remaining in North America. Practically the entire world population of Pacific Black Brant stage here and provide the very best fall hunting for Pacific Black Brant in the world. Izembek Lagoon and associated freshwater wetlands attract 50,000 to 60,000 Canada Geese, mostly Taverner's Canada Geese subspecies.
Sea ducks arrive in great number during October. Harlequins, Long-tailed Ducks (Oldsquaw), Black Scoters, and White-winged Scoters are usually present. More Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads and even a few Pacific Eiders move into the area as fall progresses. Emperor Geese and Steller's Eiders are abundant in Cold Bay throughout autumn. While neither can be hunted, opportunities to observe and photograph these species are better nowhere else.
Enjoy world-class Silver (Coho) Salmon and Dolly Varden fishing on numerous streams and rivers. Through the first week of October, the area receives strong runs of Chum (Dog), Pink (Humpies) and Red (Sockeye). Bring your own fishing gear or use lodge equipment. Fly, bait cast, spinning and related tackle are available.
Afternoon wingshooting options include excellent upland hunting for both Ptarmigan. Prime ptarmingan hunting areas are easily accessed via the road system. Retrievers double as flushers for this exciting upland bird hunt. Ptarmigan coveys may exceed 30 birds. Ptarmigan are a striking sight in contrast to the rugged landscape. Ptarmigan populations experienced a dramatic upswing in 2010, and hunting guests report seeing hundreds daily. A tough bird of the Alaskan tundra, this is a fun hunt to experience.
Lodging includes a private bunkhouse at the local inn that provides 6 spacious bedrooms with 2 single beds each, a full kitchen, laundry and restroom facilities. Cable T.V., telephone and a comfortable lounging area are included amenities. It is not luxurious, but is perfectly nice and clean, and provides a warm, comfortable place to rest between hunts. Meals prepared by cook staff ensure guests are abundantly fueled, and provide a true taste of Alaska. A large breakfast starts the day, and lunches are usually packed so that guests may remain hunting or fishing during that time. Dinners of steaks, local salmon, pork tenderloin, and game are a fine way to cap another incredibly adventurous day duck hunting Alaska!
Perfect Cold Bay Alaska Sea Duck Hunts or Duck and Goose Hunts are entirely a matter of timing. Please consider the following guidelines in planning your trip:
September hunts is for hunters looking to hunt Black Brant, Canada Geese, puddle ducks, diving ducks and Ptarmigan. Expect fast action on a daily basis as lots of naïve waterfowl arrive fresh from the breeding grounds. Bird plumage is not suitable as trophies. Fishing is excellent for Silver Salmon, Chum Salmon, Dolly Varden. Halibut and cod are available in the bay. The long days of September ensure 2 hunts daily or hunting and fishing on the same day. Weather is typically mild, ranging 40's - 60's with a near constant wind and passing showers.
October is a transition month. Fewer and variable fishing opportunities, but overall waterfowl numbers peak. More divers and sea ducks arrive, while pintail numbers decline. Brant and Canada numbers peak late-September to early-October, and hunting remains excellent. Harlequin, Black Brant, Cacklers/ Canadas plumage improves in latter October. Hunters can expect lots of shooting for Black Brant, Canadas, puddle ducks, divers, sea ducks and Ptarmigan. Black and White-wing Scoters are available.
November is the month for trophy collecting and sea duck hunting Cold Bay Alsaka. Most of the Canadas have left the Cold Bay area by the first week, and Brant will gradually decline through mid-November, with a few overwintering in Cold Bay. Sea duck numbers peak in November and there are excellent numbers of Harlequin, Oldsquaw, Black Scoters, White Wing Scoters, and the odd Pacific or King Eiders. In 2010, 3 Pacific Eiders and 0 King Eiders were taken on this hunt. Stellar's Eiders and Emporer Geese are abundantly viewed in November, and ptarmigan hunting is usually excellent.
$3,300 6.5-day Cold Bay Alaska Waterfowl Hunts include hunting ducks, brant, geese, ptarmigan and fishing.
Groups up to 6 hunters. Singles and pairs fine, but will be combined into groups as scheduling allows.
Jim Crews, October 2011
About the Area - Duck and Goose Hunting Cold Bay Alaska
Cold Bay, Alaska is about 630 miles south west of Anchorage. Access is provided by Peninsula Airlines (Pen Air). Cold Bay has a population of about 75 residents. It was built during World War II to repell a Japanese attack on Aleutian Isles. Cold Bay services include a bar, general grocery and liquor store, post office and a small clinic. The peninsula is bordered by the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The area is a panorama of natural beauty characterized by miles of Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean beaches and bays, hundreds of freshwater lakes, clear meandering streams and rivers, low brush tundra, ancient glaciers, thermal springs, and smoking volcanoes.
Izembek Lagoon encompasses 150 square miles of brackish water containing the world's largest eelgrass beds. Izembek Lagoon is an international stopover for a variety of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Each spring and fall, the entire world populations of Emperor Geese and Pacific Black Brant migrate through Cold Bay and Izembek Lagoon. Taverner's Canada geese, Steller's eiders, northern pintails, and mallards are abundant during the fall. About 50,000 Steller's eiders, and a few spectacled eiders, overwinter on Izembek Lagoon, and while they are stricly protected due to closed hunting season, it's a rare treat observe and photograph these magnificent species. Total waterfowl number over 500,000 in this remote area, making duck and goose hunting the Cold Bay area near Izembek Lagoon a rare marvel witnessed by precious few. Waterfowl move from the saltwater lagoons to freshwater ponds at high tide searching for drinking water and field berries, their favored forage.
Pacific Black Brant
Virtually the entire population of Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) stages in fall at Izembek Lagoon near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula before southward migration to winter habitats primarily in Baia California. There are an estimated 115,000-150,000 black brant world-wide. The greatest density of black brant occur in Cold Bay Alaska on Izenbek Lagoon. Nearly the entire world population stages there during migration. About 14,000 are taken by hunters with the greatest number of Pacific Black Brant being shot in Baja, Mexico. The oldest age record for any duck, goose or swan in North America is held by a Pacific Brant at 28.5 years!
Pacific Black Brant are slightly larger than drake mallards. Males are somewhat bigger than females. The sexes are indistinguishable. It is one of the darkest waterfowl with a black head, neck and upper breast and a white necklace on the sides of the neck. The back and upper wing coverts are edged with lighter grays on a darker grayish brown feathers. The Pacific Black Brant has a very dark breast and belly with little or no contrast separating them. The flanks are much whiter than the Atlantic Brant. The black bill is short and stubby. Pacific Brant are prized among collectors due to their relative rarity.
Emperor Goose Emperor Goose Hunting is presently closed, but nowhere do they exist in greater abundance for your observational or photographical enjoyment
The Emperor Goose (Chen canagica) breeds around the Bering Sea, mostly in Alaska but also in Kamchatka, Russia. It is migratory, wintering mainly in the Aleutian Islands. The American Ornithologists' Union places emperor geese in the genus Chen, along with snow geese, rather than the more traditional "gray" goose genus, Anser. This species is much less gregarious than most light geese, usually occurring in family groups. Male and female emperor geese have gray body plumage that is subtly barred with black and white. The white head and hindneck, which are often stained orange-red from feeding in tidal ponds where iron oxide is concentrated, contrast markedly with the dark foreneck. Contrast distinguishes this goose from the blue-morph snow goose, whose entire foreneck and chin are white like the head. The emperor goose's short bill is pink and lacks the black "grinning patch" present in blue geese.
Throughout their annual cycle, Emperor Geese occur in remote habitats that have incurred relatively little modification by direct human activities, making Cold Bay and Izembek Lagoon critical areas. To restore the Emperor Goose population to historical levels, Emperor Goose hunting seasons were closed in 1986 and subsistence hunting ceased in 1987. The Emperor Goose population declined from an estimated 139,000 in 1964 to 42,000 in 1986. Aerial counts were not carried out regularly during this time period, but have been since 1981. The population appears increasing in Alaska, with about 80,000 breeding emperors recently reported. Management guidelines allow for limited hunting of Emporer Geese when the 3-year population average is an estimated 80,000. For this reason, it is anticipated that Emperor Goose hunting season will be reinstated near-term as the population trends upward.
The Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope, previously Mareca penelope) is one of three species of wigeon in the world. The breeding male Eurasian Wigeon has gray back and finely speckled gray flanks, with a black rear end and a dark green speculum and a brilliant white patch on upper wings, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a pink breast, white belly, and a bright rust-brown with a buff crown and forehead. Eurasian Wigeon breeds in the northernmost areas of Europe and Asia, is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range. It migrates to southern Asia and Africa, as is far more common winter visitor to Great Britain and Ireland than to the continental United States. Preferred habitats of Eurasion Wigeon include marshes, ponds, lakes, and tidal flats. Eurasian Wigeon are rare, extremely-prized trophies among US waterfowlers, and ranks highly on the lists of our Cold Bay duck hunting guests.
The Harlequin (Histrionicus histrionicus), is a small, strikingly beautiful sea duck. Adult male Harlequin ducks are slate blue with chestnut sides and white markings including a white crescent at the base of the bill. Adult females are less colorful, with brownish-grey plumage and a white patch on the head around the eye. Both adults have a white ear patch. Their breeding habitat is cold fast moving streams in north-western and north-eastern North America, Greenland, Iceland and western Russia. They are usually found near pounding surf and white water. Harlequin ducks are short distance migrants and most winter near rocky shorelines. Harlequin ducks, or Harlequins or simply Harlis, feed by swimming under water or diving. They also dabble. They eat molluscs, crustaceans and insects. Harlequins have smooth, densely packed feathers that trap a lot of air within them. This is vital for insulating such small bodies against the chilly waters they ply. It also makes them exceptionally buoyant, making them bounce like corks after dives. One Alaska sea duck hunting guest in particular describes the experience of holding a beautiful drake Harlequin "like holding new money". Harlequin ducks are abundantly available during our Cold Bay Alaska sea duck hunts.
The Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) is a bird of the grouse family. Willow Ptarmigan are prolific in Southwest Alaska. The willow ptarmigan was designated the official state bird of Alaska in 1955. All 3 ptarmigan species can be found in Alaska - the willow ptarmigan and rock ptarmigan (which are also found in Scandinavia, Russia, and northern Eurasia), and white-tailed ptarmigan (found only in North America). The famous red grouse of Scotland is a race of the willow ptarmigan. They make excellent wingshooting and are delicious tablefare. There are three kinds of ptarmigan and all can be found in Alaska - the willow ptarmigan and rock ptarmigan (which are also found in Scandinavia, Russia, and northern Eurasia), and white-tailed ptarmigan (found only in North America). The famous red grouse of Scotland is a race of the willow ptarmigan. Willow ptarmigan change color from light brown in summer to snow white in winter for effective camouflage. Another distinctive feature is its feathered toes. Hunters may often encounter hundreds daily in good habitat.
Travel Protection - Cold Bay Alaska Duck Hunts
Trip cancellation insurance is strongly advised for the all Alaska duck hunts, especially due to travel logistics. A good Travel Protection Plan (click here to view) will reimburse your lost days if this unfortunate event occurs during your Cold Bay sea duck hunt in Alaska.
What to Bring - Packing for Cold Bay Alaska Duck and Goose Hunting
Cold Bay lies in the maritime climate zone, characterized by persistently overcast skies, moderate temperatures, and winds. September through November average temperatures range from 35 to 60 °F, but wind chill will make it feel colder. Monthly precipitation is about 4 to 4.5 inches during this time.
WATERPROOF is key. Waterproof, waterproof, waterproof. Hunting Cold Bay ducks involves boat rides, sitting along shorelines, and light walking. Neoprene waders are ideal for providing keeping you warm and dry. We suggest packing as you would for any duck hunt, remembering that Cold Bay is, after all, duck hunting near the Bering Sea - packing that extra heavy layer is a very smart idea.
For warm hands during an Alaska Aleutian Island sea duck hunt, we suggest using insulated commercial fishing gloves. These gloves are inexpensive, but perfect for the cold, wet windy conditions of this sea duck hunt. We've found that by tucking them in a pocket, shooting hands easily slip out in time for that shot at a decoying Harlequin or Pacific Black Brant.
Sea duck species are especially tough birds, and experienced sea duck hunters know that these birds hit the water and dive, usually never to be seen again, when crippled. Guns and ammo for Cold Bay Alaska duck and goose hunting:
Bring a pair of binoculars. The area is wildlife-rich and many waterfowl species not commonly observed elsewhere, such as Pacific Black Brant, Stellar's Eiders, Emperor Geese, Harlequin ducks, American Bald Eagles and more may be present. Other packing considerations for your Aleutian Island Alaska sea duck hunt:
Care and Transportation of Cold Bay Alaska duck hunting trophies:
Useful Links - Cold Bay Alaska Duck and Goose Hunting near Izembek Lagoon:
Contact us for more information about Cold Bay Alaska Hunting for sea ducks, black brant and Canada geese.
Alaska Cold Bay Duck and Goose Hunting packages include:
Cold Bay Alaska waterfowl hunts do not include:
In the instance that guests are weathered in, and that there is room because incoming hunters are also weathered in, guest will be provided lodging and meals for a rate of $150 payable to outfitter. Optionally, or if extra room is unavailable, guests may stay at the Bear Foot Inn.
Practically the entire world population of Pacific Black Brant stage in Izembek Lagoon preceding their nearly non-stop migration south. Izembek Lagoon provides some of the best Pacific Black Brant hunting in the world, and Pacific Black Brant are surely the very best tasting waterfowl in the world. Here's why.
Incredible guide. His work ethic is impeccable. His knowledge of wildlife and passion is unequalled. Cold Bay Alaska duck hunting was an awesome experience!
Referenced Hunt: Cold Bay Alaska Duck Hunting Trip