The North American Waterfowl Tour winds it’s way through Vermont and Maine, where Ramsey finally scratches off duck hunting these 2 new-to-him states. Thanks to host Steve Caron and friends, it was a memorable visit despite warm, Indian Summer weather.  With their belts still stretching after a steamed lobsta’ and mussels dinner, Ramsey and Caron talk about waterfowl hunting Maine and Vermont, recounting memorable highlights where waterfowl were only a gateway to best experiencing this corner of the US.

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Above & Beyond the Duck Hunt

Steve, what an incredible day down here in Maine, what an incredible day, man.

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, I am in a road tour, checking off bucket list, states number 45, 46 Vermont and Maine and thank the Lord, I’ve got Steve Caron, today’s guest guiding me along the way. It has been an immersive experience beyond the duck hunting, I’m talking into the food, the culture, the habits, the people, the sights, the sounds, the whole ball of wax that experienced collectors like myself, really get into. Steve, what an incredible day down here in Maine, what an incredible day, man.

Steve Caron: The day’s been amazing, we started off with the amazing goose hunt. We were out in Vermont the last couple of days and my wife was reporting back what she was seeing for birds knowing we were coming here, she found a little goose feed that we were able to hit up this morning, they did it perfectly.

Ramsey Russell: Never in a million years, not a million years, when I say, okay, I’m going to knock waterfowl off my list in Vermont and Maine, did I guess Canada geese never in a million years. And it’s not just that we shot Canada geese today, it’s where we shot Canada geese about 4 minutes from your driveway right here, we get in and it’s like, we’re in a whole neighborhood backyard in this little pasture.

Steve Caron: It’s the unique part about hunting Southern Maine. You’ve got a little family owned farm, the entire family lives around it and the surrounding area is land that they’ve sold off, that’s now million dollar developments. We were surrounded by houses that are going for $1.2 million, $1.4 million right now and those folks were drinking their coffee watching us hunt geese this morning and we really don’t have a problem with that, they seem to not mind it. They don’t really, bother us too much, they know what the deal is, they know we’re safe, we’re doing it for a few years there now. So, it works out pretty good.

Hunting in a Maine Neighborhood?!

She said, that means I’m being successful and she would love to hear that sound of it raining down on her roof.

Ramsey Russell: But talk about, who those neighbors were watching. Like I know, none of them really like the geese like the old lady doesn’t like the geese, so tell me who she is.

Steve Caron: How we started hunting that field, the owner of the field really was getting sick of the geese, ruining their hay, crapping all over the lawns, all over the leech fields up on their decks at times. So, it’s one of those spots where you see it and you go, there’s no way I can hunt there, no way anybody is going to give you permission to hunt in their backyard within 300ft of their house and shoot geese. And I said, I got to try it, there’s 200 geese in this field, that’s a lot from this area, I wanted to take my shot and see if I could hunt it. And the lady was more than enthusiastic about it, I asked her –

Ramsey Russell: How old was she?

Steve Caron: She’s in her – the landowner, she’s in her early 50s when I asked her and I asked her on beginning of August when I first started seeing them, I’m getting ready for the September resident season and she thought I meant hunt them tomorrow. And when I didn’t show up on the next day in the middle of August, she called me and said, where are you? I thought you’re going to shoot my geese. So I had to explain to her the seasons and everything else and had to really work out shooting lanes and how we were going to hunt them.

Ramsey Russell: Shooting lanes, can’t shoot here at 10 o’clock there’s a house, can’t shoot there at 12 o’clock there’s a house, but I can shoot between 10 and 12, I can shoot anywhere between 12 and 4 because the houses are a half mile away. I mean, it’s parts on the clock that the birds got to get in just right.

Steve Caron: And it doesn’t matter what the wind is, you can’t change your shooting lanes.

Ramsey Russell: What the one lady tell you about if the BBs hit her house?

Steve Caron: She said, that means I’m being successful and she would love to hear that sound of it raining down on her roof.

Ramsey Russell: Because what’s so interesting is, it’s like, one of the yards we walk through, they had like produce stands, like in the summer when there’s a lot of tourist, you obviously lay out a lot of organic produce and they were kind of stored up here around the barn. So, I mean, the geese were just really causing problems.

Steve Caron: Yeah, they’re getting into their hay fields, they’re getting into where their kids play in the yards, they’re getting into their gardens, they’re ruining that. I don’t only goose hunt that farm, once I started goose hunting it, they asked if I deer hunted? And I said, yeah, I could deer hunt and they said, well, please kill all the deer too, if you can, whatever you can legally shoot, if you have a tag for it, please use that tag on our farm.  So I did, I started doing that, started helping them out with that, well, it turns out they butcher the deer for me too once I shoot it. So I shoot a deer on their farm, drive my truck out on the field, pick up the deer, drop it off at their barn and come pick it up 3 days later.

Ramsey Russell: Because you told me today, we walked back here to look for those black ducks for tomorrow and I mean, it’s just right there, here’s the house, walk a quarter mile boom there, a big tall pine tree, that’s where I am, here’s the water right here it’s where the black ducks are and that white barn right here is where I get my deer skinned. Is that commercial or just a family farm that says, oh, well we’ll take care of your deer.

Steve Caron: It’s a family farm, family business, they do 8 to 9 cows a year and they’ll sell it to folks, they’re registered with the state of Maine for a butcher shop and they’re registered to do deer and they offered to do mine and they hadn’t done it in a few years, they actually stopped doing deer until I started hunting the farm again. And they said, well we can continue doing it, we’re licensed, we’ll do it for you. If you shoot the deer, please shoot the deer. So I’ve killed 7 deer in the last 4 or 5 years there just to help them out.

An Abundance of Wildlife

Turkeys, the deer, the geese, the ducks that come in close to the houses, the coyotes, the foxes, you see everything here, bobcats now.

Ramsey Russell: We’re out driving around not too far from there and it’s hard to say the way the roads wrap around through the hardwoods, it’s a lot of woods up here, a lot of hardwoods up here in Maine and we kind of round this tight curve and there’s a flock of turkeys, 15, 20 turkeys and there’s a bicycler kind of grin in embarrassingly because he got to go through the turkey and they’re walking out of the way and he waves at us and we drive by, that’s crazy.

Steve Caron: Yeah, that’s southern Maine. It’s pretty densely populated for as far as Maine goes and the wildlife here is unbelievable. Turkeys, the deer, the geese, the ducks that come in close to the houses, the coyotes, the foxes, you see everything here, bobcats now.

Ramsey Russell: So you say, yesterday, hey, we got to go scouting, I get a pair of binoculars, you get a pair of binoculars, oh just wear your croc, we’re going to drive around and glass the sea shores and I’m thinking iconic Rocky Mountain, Rocky shorelines, Maine. No, I mean, it’s beaches, beach houses, people walking around playing in the sand, picking up sea shells, walking through the rock and we’re glassing past them behind the surf, looking at scoters, looking at eiders, looking at harlequins, which are protected in this but still, I mean, we’re surrounded by humanity and where we’re hunting tomorrow for eiders, if it were a Saturday or Sunday, we would have a huge audience.

Steve Caron: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And I don’t mean like an audience looking at it through binocular, I mean, within hollering distance.

Steve Caron: Yeah. At any given time there’s 40, 50 vehicles of tourists sitting at that overlooking that lighthouse where we’re going to be hunting tomorrow. And that’s something we run into pretty regularly, in some of the marshes and in the wildlife management areas that we can hunt, there’s also walking trails. The land trust in the different towns, like –

Ramsey Russell: We go out to a refuge, we go out to a state area, we go out to a public use area, that’s a creek or a river running up through marsh grass, tidal influenced and there’s a dozen vehicles, none of them hunters, everybody just walking, airing their dogs clamming.

Steve Caron: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: It’s crazy, I’ve never been anywhere like Maine.

Steve Caron: Yeah, my friend, Lucas and I were hunting a beach in southern Maine and we were out there, we’re all set up waiting for the tide to come in, we’re expecting mallards, black ducks, geese to come through and these two clam diggers came in and said, hey, we’re going to dig clams right in front of you and I asked him, I said, sir, I really don’t think that’s a good idea, we’re hunting here, we’d appreciate if you moved on. He said, hey, he goes, I know what you guys are doing, trust me, the geese and the ducks, they know us, they come closer with us. So he set up and he started digging clams right in the middle of our spread and he said, if ducks and geese come up, he goes, just let me know and I’ll duck and you guys can shoot them and it was just the most wild thing.

Ramsey Russell: Did it work?

Steve Caron: Absolutely, we got a limit that day.

Ramsey Russell: One of these decoy companies need to come up with a couple of clam diggers.

Steve Caron: Yeah, clam diggers silhouettes or something.

Ramsey Russell: Clam diggers silhouettes, yeah.

Understanding the Impact of Hunting Pressure

In the springtime, there is, especially the first a week or two of the season, but once that’s gone, it kind of dies down a little bit and there’s just so many birds and so many places to go, it’s unbelievable.

Steve Caron: Yeah, we shot black ducks, we shot mallards over those guys, one of them retrieved it for us. It was great. It’s just an unbelievable experience and there are bad apples every now and then where you run into people and they want to stop you from what you’re doing. But for the most part, everyone understands that you’re there to use that land like they are and they might not support what you’re doing but they’re not going to give you problems with what you do. And I find that, the more you talk to people and explain like what you’re doing, why you’re doing, how you’re doing it, they don’t bother you after that, they understand that. The reason why we have turkeys in Maine, a lot of the old timers, I know, and the guys I carve with, when they were my age, there were no turkeys in Maine or if there were, you were hunting – you’re only allowed to hunt turkeys every other day based on where you lived. Hunters have brought turkey back to the point where we can shoot 5 birds in the fall, it’s just unbelievable how many turkeys there are.

Ramsey Russell: Is there a lot of hunting pressure for turkey hunting?

Steve Caron: In the springtime, there is, especially the first a week or two of the season, but once that’s gone, it kind of dies down a little bit and there’s just so many birds and so many places to go, it’s unbelievable.

Species to Target for Duck Hunting in Maine

…we shoot black ducks, mallards, buffleheads, teal, we’ve shot in the winter, we’ve shot ring necks, the variety of species here is surprising.

Ramsey Russell: That’s crazy. Speaking of, you talk about black ducks, talk about some of the species that you target for duck hunting. I mean, just in a very short area from here, at your house to 10 minutes away, we hit them all, geese, puddlers, sea ducks, divers, talk about how you target those birds and what you target, what’s your prevalent bag is throughout the course of the season.

Steve Caron: Well, as the season starts, they kind of give us an early season, before they give us a split and then open up later in the year, which is what you’re experiencing now, you’re here at the start of the split, the start of the second season. Beginning of the season, you’re looking at resident mallards and wood ducks primarily and some resident black ducks in the beaver bogs and little backwater swamps and streams. But really what I prefer to hunt and the guys I hunt with, later in the year we get into – once everything starts freezing inland, it really brings in a lot of species down to the coastline, we shoot black ducks, mallards, buffleheads, teal, we’ve shot in the winter, we’ve shot ring necks, the variety of species here is surprising. A lot of people don’t realize that we get a lot of different species, scaup, geese, Canada geese, we have a pretty healthy resident population, not very many opportunities and places to hunt them in Southern Maine, there is a lot of pressure but they’re here and they’re at the same spots every year. And if you target them, you let them rest at the field you hunt them, you can get a good hunt every time all year round.

Ramsey Russell: It’s crazy and on the one hand, it is a lot of work, loading up your boat, we’ll talk about that for sea ducks versus puddlers versus divers, that we’ve done in just the last, whatever, 2 or 3 days. But going goose hunt today, scout report was a couple of 100 geese on a very small, 8th of a section and we set up two dozen cackler decoys, tiny cans, it took 5 minutes to carry it out in the field, 5 minutes to deploy it, 10 minutes to pick it all up, boom, we’re done and we shot birds, we shot limits, it’s crazy. And tomorrow we’re going eider hunting, but it’s not a 200 bird mile long line, it’s a couple of dozen decoys on a couple of lines which will be perfect for those 100 eiders we’ve been seeing, so it’s kind of small, it’s kind of compact. If you were to go out and hunt with that pair of black ducks, those black ducks we’ve been seeing in those small little tidal creeks, what would you put out 4 or 5 black ducks and sit back tight and wait?

Steve Caron: 6 lot decoy bag, 6 ducks.

Ramsey Russell: That’s it?

Steve Caron: Yeah, what I prefer to run small spread, especially by myself, usually even with my friends that I hunt with, we’ll each carry a 6 pack out there. I like 4 black hen mallard and drake mallard, I think that’s the perfect small spread for coastal Maine.

Hunting Maine’s Most Iconic Species 

They’re prevalent all throughout New England and I think New England hunters probably take it for granted, really.

Ramsey Russell: When we started talking about doing this trip, we talked about eiders getting old Char dog going to eiders and on the one hand, eiders are a very iconic species for Maine, Chamber of Commerce, outfitters for the past 2 decades, eiders, Maine eiders. But you know to me, one of the most iconic or probably the most iconic species for Maine is a black duck and I think looking in your shop at some of your collection, it’s because of that L.L Bean black duck, who were the carvers that made those duck?

Steve Caron: George Soule was the main guy for L.L Bean.

Ramsey Russell: That Soule black duck decoy, which a lot of times was just raw cork sealed with a head –

Steve Caron: Very crude head, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: That is a Maine decoy to me.

Steve Caron: It doesn’t matter where you are in the country, you recognize an L.L Bean, black duck, any duck hunter recognizes an L.L Bean black duck and yeah, that’s kind of what put them on the map here. They’re prevalent all throughout New England and I think New England hunters probably take it for granted, really.

Ramsey Russell: You all take them for granted. Guys like me, I don’t know what it is about a black duck, but I like them a lot. And everywhere we look, we walk down there, let’s go to a pair of black ducks, today we drove by somewhere and there’s just this little cattail area, boom, there’s a dozen of them just sitting there in the middle of a neighborhood, they’re everywhere. I’ve seen as many black ducks as mallards here.

Steve Caron: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And then it gets tough sometimes trying to pick them out black duck or mallard as they’re flying on the wing and stuff early in the light. But those coastal marshes once everything freezes up inland, they come down from Canada, from northern Maine and they fill those marshes up and you’ll see a ton of black ducks and a lot of times, they’re flying in pairs or singles and they’re coming in, they decoy real well.

Ramsey Russell: Do you ever see a black ducks up here in big flock?

Steve Caron: One area.

Ramsey Russell: A dozen, 15, 20, 30?

Steve Caron: Yeah, one or two areas that we hunt, we’ll see them come in pretty heavy, they’ll come in 6 at a time, 8 at a time, 10 at a time, 12 at a time off and on the main concentration areas there’s one of our favorite places to hunt, I showed you the other day, it’s where we saw the game warden there. That’s one of my go to spots and there you’ll see black ducks stacked up and in big group.

Ramsey Russell: That looks like the most unlikely hunting area you showed me.

Steve Caron: Yeah, that’s the place to –

Ramsey Russell: We pull up to a parking lot, got to be 15, 20, 30 cars and nobody’s hunting, there’s a clamor, there’s people walking their dog, like I say, walking, airing just standing around to get some fresh air, there’s a refuge right there all cattail stuff, there’s a creek right here and it’s tidal influenced. And you were telling me today how you took the panel blind instead of setting up like a conventional panel blind, you stuck one of the panels like a roof over the shelf and you got to be it, bam just disappeared –

Steve Caron: Yeah, when that tide drops down, you put it in the mud.

Ramsey Russell: What do you expect to kill? If you were to go there, for example, that’s a real typical hunt, it’s one of your favorite places you’re going to go there in the morning by yourself, maybe your wife goes, maybe she doesn’t. What do you expect to kill?

Steve Caron: Mallards, black ducks, and if I want to top off the limit, a bufflehead or two?

Ramsey Russell: So, a pair of mallards, a pair of black ducks on a great day, is that a average day or a good day?

Steve Caron: That’s a standard day is what we like to make it.

Ramsey Russell: Pair of mallards, pair of black ducks maybe kill a bufflehead.

Steve Caron: Yeah, you’ll get the opportunities at them, you don’t always hit them, but you’ll get your opportunities at getting a mallard and a black duck, two bird limit each pretty much every morning. And I’ll bring goose decoys out there, I’ve been out there with my friend Andre a few times and we’ve limited on geese.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Steve Caron: Yeah. They just kind of fly that marsh and they’ll fly right by you, you put them out some goose decoys out on the sand bar, come right into them.

Ramsey Russell: Born and raised here in Maine?

Steve Caron: Born and raised in Rhode Island.

Ramsey Russell: Rhode Island.

Steve Caron: Yeah, Northern Rhode Island.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about your origins in waterfowl hunting because you’re how old, 32?

Steve Caron: 35. I’ll be 36 tomorrow.

Ramsey Russell: 35, hardcore. You hadn’t stopped in 4 or 5 days. You’ve just worn me out.

Steve Caron: That’s typical of me and my travel hunting. Yeah, when I set a time, that’s how I do it.

Hunting Styles: Wingshooting vs. Upland Birds

So, it started, when I was probably around for 13, 14 years old, my dad had a good friend, Scott Saint Laurent, great guy, had amazing bird dogs and he kind of introduced us to upland hunting and waterfowl hunting at the time. 

Ramsey Russell: What are your origins of waterfowl hunting? How did you get into duck hunting in Rhode Island?

Steve Caron: So, it started, when I was probably around for 13, 14 years old, my dad had a good friend, Scott Saint Laurent, great guy, had amazing bird dogs and he kind of introduced us to upland hunting and waterfowl hunting at the time. We got our first birddog from him, her name was Chelsea and that’s where that love of duck hunting grew, was having that birddog and watching that dog work the swamp or work the field for pheasants and that’s really what set it off.

Ramsey Russell: I’m not making a relationship between a bird dog, pheasant hunting and ducks.

Steve Caron: Well, taking her duck hunting too. So we started off, the first –

Ramsey Russell: So, she was versatile.

Steve Caron: Oh yeah, first gun I shot was a 20 gauge at pheasants, my first hunt and that evolved to once I got comfortable, more comfortable shooting birds in the wing because it’s easier to shoot a pheasant coming up in front of you than it is to shoot a duck coming into the decoys, then we kind of evolved into duck hunting in a local swamp and I’ve got some great stories on that local swamp.  But we’d go out there and that’s where watching that dog mark a bird that you shot and getting out there and retrieving it, bringing it back, that’s kind of where duck hunting really started for me. And then went off to college, got busy, had to work a lot and then once I moved back to Maine, a good friend of mine, Nick Wilson, he really was the one that reignited and said, hey, man, we got to do this, we’ve got the opportunity, we got to do this now. So we started hunting pretty hard together and end up getting Jasmine and then the rest is history from there haven’t stopped.

Ramsey Russell: Jasmine’s your black lab.

Steve Caron: She’s my little black lab, yeah, 9 years old now.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, just as eager to go as ever.

Steve Caron: Oh, yes. She wants to go, her body doesn’t always let her though.

Ramsey Russell: What brought you to Maine from Rhode Island?

Steve Caron: Coming out of college, I knew I wanted to stick kind of close to home, I knew I wanted to stick close to the shoreline, close to the ocean, so coming out of Clarkson University with an engineering degree, the shipyard working for the Navy on nuclear submarines was my best option. Yeah, I have a degree in aeronautical engineering and I started working on submarines out of college.

Ramsey Russell: And now you work for Pfizer?

Steve Caron: And now I work for Pfizer as a lead engineer, senior engineer for them, yeah. Periscope.

Ramsey Russell: So, how long have you lived in Maine?

Steve Caron: I moved here in 2008, so I’ve lived here other than one year, the entire time here.

Ramsey Russell: It’s an amazing state and today proved it. We’ve talked about the black ducks, tomorrow we’re going after eiders, we shot Canada geese this morning and your beautiful wife joined us in the blind today before work and she’s a hunter also and we started talking about dinner, she was going to go get some clams, you’ve been talking about going and catching some lobsters.

Steve Caron: I threatened you with pulling some lobster traps, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: So, we go shoot the geese, we go do something and then we go hit back your boat off and run around the navy yard.

Steve Caron: Got to see, the USS Virginia sitting in the water and it came around the back channel and headed out to my lobster traps.

Ramsey Russell: That was a huge ass building, you said, built in 1816 or something in the Alcatraz by the military?

Steve Caron: That’s the Navy’s prison, Portsmouth shipyard prison.

Ramsey Russell: Is it still active?

Steve Caron: No, it’s been deactivated for a while. But rumor is, it was the Alcatraz of the east coast and the worst of the worst military prisoners were kept there.

Ramsey Russell: Wonder what you have to do to be the worst of the worst military prisoner?

Steve Caron: I don’t know, but apparently you didn’t want to find out there.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Steve Caron: Yeah.

Maine Lobster Trapping Techniques

Ramsey Russell: So, we go around the island, we go out and I figure we’re going offshore, I don’t have any idea about lobster trapping and we just got this bay, there’s buoys, gazillions of buoy everywhere, everybody’s got a different colored bobber and the first one we pull up, it just loaded with them things.

Steve Caron: Absolutely filled, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Like a crawfish trap.

Steve Caron: We had 7 lobsters in there, 6 or 7 lobsters in there, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Tell everybody how you go about lobster trapping because I mean, if I lived here and it’s open 365 days a year, I’m thinking I got lobster anytime I want.

Steve Caron: Yeah. Well, I’m kind of new to it, this is my first year of doing it. A friend of mine, Lucas Dion, he taught me how to lobster fish, he took me out and showed me, you can’t just throw a lobster trap in the river and expect it to work, you got to find the changes in depth, look at the rock ledges and stuff, water temperatures, depending on what time of year you got to be outside the river, inside the river. But really you grab a trap, you go get your license obviously –

Ramsey Russell: So, what are they looking for? What’s driving lobster migration on them ledges and – food?

Steve Caron: Yeah, I think it’s –

Ramsey Russell: The fishes are staying in the thermocline so the lobsters are staying in a thermocline?

Steve Caron: Yeah. To me, it seems like they want to be, the warmer the air temperature, the warmer the water temperature, they want to be a little deeper, they want that colder water. As it gets colder in the winter, I’ve had better luck coming in a little closer to shore, coming in, like right now we’re in like 20ft of water and right on the ledge where it drops down to 40ft. So it seemed like they were working that ledge a little bit.

Ramsey Russell: How deep were those traps today? You kept pulling a rope forever.

Steve Caron: They’re about 20ft. But the current in that river is one of the strongest on the east coast.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Steve Caron: Oh, yeah. It’s brutal, it really rips through that river, so good to have a lot of line on there or else your buoy will disappear underwater.

Ramsey Russell: So, we pull up this trap, it’s crawling with lobsters, I’m like, oh, my gosh, we don’t have to go to Kroger after all, it looked like dinner to me.

Steve Caron: Saved us a little money.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, and then you started measuring them.

Steve Caron: So there’s a minimum length between the back of the eye socket and the back of the body for lack of a better term and there’s a maximum length as well. So the first thing you check is to make sure it meets that minimum, doesn’t exceed that maximum length, then you get to check to make sure it’s not a breeding female. So if you flip a lobster over and it’s got eggs on it, you immediately, you notch the tail, throw it back, let that lobster produce it’s young.

Ramsey Russell: So, it’s not a morphological notch, you’re looking for a notch that somebody cut.

Steve Caron: It’s a physical notch that another lobster fisherman cut in it and if it has eggs and it’s not cut, you have to cut that notch in it and that tells the next fisherman that picks that up and it doesn’t have eggs that, hey, this lobster is a breeder, put it back in the water and you have to release that lobster.

Ramsey Russell: All the females go back.

Steve Caron: All the females that are breeders, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: I’ll be darned. Then what? What do you bait them with?

Steve Caron: I used a pig hide, actually, hairless pig hide. A lot of guys will use –

Ramsey Russell: Soaked in some kind of scent?

Steve Caron: It’s just salted, but it lasts a long time is what the key is. So, when they get in the trap – you can use mackerel, I’ve used mackerel before, but once the lobsters get in the trap and everything else gets into that mackerel, it disappears quick, it doesn’t last inside, the bait doesn’t last. A lot of guys use haddock racks, like filet haddocks those will last a little ways.  But I found that the pig hide lasts the longest.

Ramsey Russell: Do they still sell it on the side of the road, like boiled peanuts in the south?

Steve Caron: Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of lobster fishermen will sell it right at the dock. There’s one place in town that’s been there for forever, it’s fresh off the boat, they’ll even cook it for you right there.

The Joy of Guiding Sea Duck Hunts

Because it was fun, it was fun sea duck hunting and it was fun being with folks that were shooting their first sea ducks, it’s a trophy bird for a lot of people that come out to the east coast. 

Ramsey Russell: You were a duck guide at one time, how did you go from coming down here to work on nuclear submarines, started lobster fishing, started duck hunting, started goose hunting, what in the world compelled you to say, hey, I’m an engineer, I want to be a duck guide.

Steve Caron: Well, I had a friend, Michael Lang, who was a licensed Maine guide and registered captain. And we talked about, we sea ducked a little bit and we talked about it and he really wanted to see what that was like and get that business going. So I kind of dedicated some time to helping him out and figuring out what we could do on getting that up and running and going. Because it was fun, it was fun sea duck hunting and it was fun being with folks that were shooting their first sea ducks, it’s a trophy bird for a lot of people that come out to the east coast. So we enjoyed it, we figured we’d make a lot of connections with folks around the country maybe that would open up opportunities to us as well and just kind of give us something new to do.

Ramsey Russell: Wow. How did that go? How long did you guide and how did that go?

Steve Caron: We did it for – I want to say two seasons, it was tough, it was real tough. It was tough to get the free time off of work, when you have a full-time job you weren’t doing – making real money, we weren’t doing it full time. It was tough driving 2.5 hours to go to the boat launch to meet up for the hunt, it was tough finding clients and then it was tough pleasing folks.

Ramsey Russell: How did you find clients?

Steve Caron: Advertise on Facebook a lot. Folks reach out to us, we donate hunts to Ducks Unlimited and that would bring folks in. We went to some local events in Vermont, where met some people that wanted to duck hunt. So, if someone was interested, we try to make it happen.

Ramsey Russell: You told me a funny story, talking about pleasing clients, you told me a funny story about – not funny “haha” about some clients from Pennsylvania or somewhere that shows up. Tell me about those guys right now because I’m just like, those were dead bead.

Steve Caron: Those were the first clients for the outfitter, first client for the outfitter. Mike’s put a lot of work in scouting while I was at work beforehand and we put some time in trying to figure out the best way to set up, best place to go, find the birds and we got these four guys in, it was 2 fathers and 2 sons and one of the sons was 16, one of them was grown, he was in his 20s. And we took them out the first morning and Mike and I were real excited, we had a great plan, we had a lot of birds and we set them up on a ledge and about 45 minutes, we had a 4 man limit of eiders, 3 drakes apiece and beautiful hens.

Ramsey Russell: And how long ago was that?

Steve Caron: That was like 4 or 5 years ago now.

Ramsey Russell: So, what was the limit on eiders?

Steve Caron: 4 per person. And I mean, they were coming in nonstop and they were picking and choosing which birds they wanted.

Ramsey Russell: Big adult drakes.

Steve Caron: Shooting the full plumage drakes and the real nice hens trying to get a hen with a band, they were taking their time and they still finished in 45 minutes.

Ramsey Russell: Did they kill any bands?

Steve Caron: No, bands that day, no.

Ramsey Russell: And what did they say? I mean, 45 minutes eiders limits on the shelf, 2 young, hardworking, eager guides delivered the hunt of a lifetime, they must have been ecstatic, these clients.

Steve Caron: Well, Mike called over the radio and said, yeah, one of the guys, I forgot his name, he said, yeah, you just shot the last bird of the day that was the finish off your limit and we’re done. And they looked at me and said that’s it, well, yeah. You just shot your limit of eiders in Maine, like, congratulations.

Ramsey Russell: It doesn’t happen every day.

Steve Caron: It doesn’t happen every day, it doesn’t happen to everyone and they were a little disappointed. So I started talking to some of my friends, that are guides up in further north and talking to them and they would say, yeah, we got 2 birds here, we got 3 birds here, didn’t get a limit, didn’t see any eiders and I’m thinking to myself, these guys just had the best day in the state of Maine that you could possibly have shooting eiders, full plumage drakes, all the hens they wanted, they were watching, the birds were putting on a show all morning, long landing in the decoys, we were letting them swim away, pulled up the boat to the ledge and they were still coming in and they were disappointed and that was kind of the first sign that doesn’t matter how hard you work, you can’t please everybody.

Ramsey Russell: The first day of the business, how did the second day go?

Steve Caron: Second day was really rough, boy, I think it was like 60 mile an hour winds that day.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, boy, joy.

Steve Caron: And I remember Mike, Mike is probably the safest person I’ve ever hunted with. I mean, by far he has dots his Is, crosses his Ts, the safest person I’ve ever hunted with. If he’s got 4 people on the boat, he’s got 10 life jackets make sure everybody’s got two in case they can’t find the first one that type of stuff.  So 60 mile hour winds and he just said, it’s just not safe to go out today and I agreed with him and it was clear it was not safe to go out. So we told the clients and they were upset because they paid for a sea duck day and we couldn’t deliver. So we said, hey, we’ll come up with a Plan B and Plan B in the State of Maine is not easy because there’s just not a ton of birds to go, we don’t have feeds that are all ready to go, we were scouting sea ducks. And we took them up in the river and we knew there were some ducks there, we knew there’s some geese there, so we said we’ll get some opportunities, but it’s better than staying in a hotel and we just want to make sure that number one priority is safety and they were disappointed, you could tell they were disappointed, they were borderline angry at that point. We took them in the river which was still a little hairy, still not quite as safe as it should have been. I mean, I wasn’t worried but it was still, you’re in an 18ft lund and pretty good chop with high winds coming back through a river with a current moving real fast and they killed some geese, so it’s not like, they didn’t fire a shot, but we could tell they were disappointed, we could tell they were upset, they kind of made it pretty obvious. And once we go back to the launch, we said, hey, why don’t we go take a drive to where we were going to hunt today and just see what the weather was going to be like? And they said, yeah, that sounds good because they were still thinking that it would have been good to go out, we would have been fine. So we drive them down and drive them to an overlook in the area where we’re going to hunt. And one of the dads stepped out of the truck and as soon as he stepped out, his hat blew off his head and it went 40 yards behind him before he could catch up to it, he said, yeah, I guess it’s a little windy here, it’s just unbelievable.

Ramsey Russell: Man, I tell everybody sea duck hunting, it’s a foregone conclusion, you’re going to lose a day if you’re lucky, 2 or 3 days, if you’re not lucky. I mean, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to – you go to whatever Arkansas pit blind, whatever you’re not putting your life in the hands of the duck guide like you are sea duck hunting. I don’t want a John Wayne cowboy in a boat taking me sea duck hunting, I want somebody that’s scared shitless of dying because you can die.

Steve Caron: I know a lot of sea duck guides from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine and the best ones are the ones that are cautious and they’re honest with you that says, when you ask, what should I book? They say 3 days because you’re probably going to lose one of those days for weather.

Ramsey Russell: And to me, Maine is a very tough state because unlike, the Brunswick, New England, it’s ocean rock interface, hardly anything out of the east, you’re screwed. You know what I’m saying? You’re just screwed, you’re going to have to camp out in the hotel room or do a Plan B, up the river, shoot a goose, shoot something. But that’s the game of sea duck hunting, that’s just, you roll the dice, there’s no crystal ball, what the weather’s going to do 6 months from now when you book a trip, that’s how the cookie crumbles.

Steve Caron: Right. And even when you’re out there it’s not safe. You’re talking 8ft, 10ft tides, granite ledges that you’re hunting off of, the boat could bump off of that tide comes up, you can’t just be anybody going out there and you can’t just go with any guide, you got to go with folks that know what they’re doing and are experienced and safe.

Ramsey Russell: What was the third day like, or did they have a third day?

Steve Caron: Oh, they had a third day. Third day, they wanted to kill eiders again, so we knew exactly what to do, knew exactly where to go. So we went down to the same spot, we went the first day really? Because the birds were still there and they were thick and they had a 4 man limit again, it took them a little longer, it took them an hour that day and boy, were they still disappointed.

Ramsey Russell: Big tippers were they?

Steve Caron: I don’t believe they tipped at all.

Ramsey Russell: Wow, that’s unbelievable.

Steve Caron: Yeah, it was a little disappointing start to the business to the guides.

Ramsey Russell: That engineer was looking better and better all the time, wasn’t he?

Steve Caron: Yeah, I was losing money every day. But the idea was really to get Mike started and get him going with it, because it was closer to home for him, well, actually not really because it was still two hours to get to where the best spots were. But yeah, it’s just not worth it.

Ramsey Russell: Why is it that some of the sea duck captains will only book a trip with clients that come from 10 or 15 hours away?

Steve Caron: Yeah. Some guys do that, there’s nothing more annoying than when you take someone out there and either the next week or the next season you go to pull up to your spot and they’re sitting there with their new boat or their layout boat or one of those things.

Ramsey Russell: And an outfitter sticker on the side.

Steve Caron: With an outfitter sticker on the side or a boatload of people or 2, 3 boats because all their friends came now, I bet you every sea duck guide in New England has a story of that happening to them.

Ramsey Russell: Isn’t that crazy?

Steve Caron: Yeah, you take a local guy out and take him sea duck hunting and you go back the following week and he’s beat you to the launch and he’s beat you to your spot. Well, now what are you going to do? They basically use you to show them what to do and then now they’re taking your hard work away from you and using it for themselves, is it illegal? No, is it morally wrong? Probably, yeah, I think so.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, there’s something messed up about that.

Steve Caron: I mean, I enjoy going to other States and hunting other places, I enjoy going to the cape and hunting sea ducks once a week, once a year for a weekend. But I make it a point to talk to the folks, I know that work and make a living down there and work with them and say, hey I’m here for 3 days, I’m going to target brant one day, eiders another day and black ducks the third day or divers or something. What are your plans? What are you doing? And it’s worked out great. There’s days where I’ve met guides on the launch and one guide in particular, Jeremiah Brooks, he’s probably the nicest guy I’ve ever met at a boat launch.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.

Steve Caron: Yeah. And we beat him to the launch and he came in, he’s a little disappointed, he had clients and there’s a good lot of birds there and there’s good spots and we talked to him and said, hey, man, you’re making money at this, pick where you want to go and we’ll go somewhere else and the first thing he said was, we’re going to work together and we’re going to both do well, he said, I know if there’s two boats in the spot, this is where one boat wants to be, this is where the other, let’s do that and let’s make it happen and it worked great. I mean, we killed full limits of drake eiders both boats.

Ramsey Russell: That’s good. How far do you range from southern Maine geographically, like pulling your boat or hunting nearby within commuting distance? How far do you range up and down this coast?

Steve Caron: 2, 2.5 hours. Yeah. So I’ll go 2, 2.5 hours up in Maine, go to Cape Cod 2.5 hours, for Vermont it’s 3 hours, so we’ll go a little further.

Ramsey Russell: Well, speaking of Vermont, we had to plan in Maine and I said, hey, if you knew anybody I want to scratch Vermont off my list also and you’re like, yeah, let’s go. So that’s where we met was in Vermont at Thomas’s place.

Steve Caron: Yeah, in mid-July based on the weather.

Ramsey Russell: It was Indian summer, it was 75° one day and we hunted over there with Thomas –

Steve Caron: Yeah, Thomas Webber.

Ramsey Russell: Thomas Webber. And how do you know Thomas, by the way?

Steve Caron: I first met Thomas at a waterfowl event in Vermont and remember meeting him, but we didn’t really talk much, he was there with –

Ramsey Russell: Thomas don’t talk much anyway.

Steve Caron: That’s a fact, yeah, he’s a pretty quiet guy. But then we met later on just on Facebook in the local groups, Thomas started a business LCF calls, Lake Champlain calls. And I kind of started talking to him and getting to know what he was about as a hunter, as a call maker, what his goals were and it really interested me, he makes a real great product, I love his calls, he was making custom calls for a while and now he’s got a delrin line, each one’s hand tuned to your specifications, what you’re asking for. So I started kind of talking to him a lot and as a hunter, he’s one of the best I know, one of the best guys I know, he’s not out there to make piles and do stupid stuff to piss off people that don’t support hunting, he’s very cautious about that and he’s always courteous to the folks around him, the landowners that he has permission from, other hunters. So, he has become a real great friend that, you can go out and have a good time with, even if you don’t kill birds.

Vermont: A Prime Location for Waterfowl Hunting Enthusiasts

Wood ducks and hooded mergansers and black ducks and mallards and then we went down to Sawyer Bay and kill some ducks and mallards and it was amazing. 

Ramsey Russell: It could not have been a better Vermont duck hunting experience from my standpoint. Could the weather been more cooperative? Could we’ve shot a few more birds? Yeah, but given the fact it was in the 70s, I wished I had brought shorts I mean, really and truly, it was absolutely gorgeous. You’ve got the Adirondacks to one side, you’ve got the green mountains to the other, you’re on the 6th Great Lake, there on Lake Champlain, it’s got a tremendous amount of history. For example, we were sitting there hunting with Matt at their little shop, looking out over on Sawyer Bay, there’s an island that his father had bought back in the 70s that he could take his 4 sons out to shoot golden eye for duck hunting. And just beyond the island is like an area that a battleship, an old revolutionary war battleship could back into and when the British fleet came by, Benedict Arnold just flat shot them like golden eyes in a very decisive revolutionary war battle, that essentially according to Matt probably contributed to winning the war, that makes a lot of history right there.

Steve Caron: Yeah, it’s a beautiful place too.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, it’s unbelievable, it’s gorgeous.

Steve Caron: You can’t beat watching mallards work in your spread with the mountain background.

Ramsey Russell: And we hit it all. It’s like, the first morning we got up, we drove a little bit and I couldn’t believe how just rural Vermont was. Of course, where we were on one of the islands, it was maybe a mile wide, a mile and a half wide between Lake Champlain. And you either going north to south, a little bit east to west, anywhere you go, but we go up, we run way the hell off across the bay, sit there off in the Tules or whatever that grass is called and just shit pile loads of blue bills.

Steve Caron: Yeah, they put on a show for us that morning.

Ramsey Russell: There’s some buffleheads, few black ducks and then we went out one day and man, it was one of the most beautiful places we walked in and it’s nowhere, it’s like right behind somebody’s house, kind of, sort of, but it was like a big beaver dam with a blue heron and Rookery, looked like something out of Doctor Seuss.

Steve Caron: It’s a Rookery pond.

Ramsey Russell: Wood ducks and hooded mergansers and black ducks and mallards and then we went down to Sawyer Bay and kill some ducks and mallards and it was amazing. It’s like if it had been easy, I don’t think we’d have scratched deep and got to experience all that stuff, like we did.

Steve Caron: And you wouldn’t have appreciated it, you would have noticed that part of it.

Ramsey Russell: That’s it to me, it was everything else, it was the hospitality, the food, the culture –

Steve Caron: Not much variety in the food though.

Ramsey Russell: No, man. The things you learn, the more you travel was food culture, here in Maine, lobsters and lobsters, lots of seafood, what we eat like Mussels, there’s a lot of seafood. Vermont I learned is the only New England state that doesn’t have an ocean border and the best I can tell everything you eat up there is in a sausage case and on a bun with maple syrup.

Steve Caron: Maple syrup or Mayonnaises, right?

Ramsey Russell: Hot damn, they sell maple syrup from the hardware store to the quick stop, to the roadside stop, anywhere you want to go there’s a maple syrup for sale.

Steve Caron: There isn’t a storefront without maple syrup there.

Ramsey Russell: No, it’s all got maple syrup, Vermont maple syrup. And which is very good maple syrup, but sure ain’t your mama, I tell you that it’s good stuff. But oh, man, what an amazing treat. And then we drove just 3 hours to get here, 2.5, 3 hours through some beautiful area. The last time, I got to say this, the last time I was on Lake Champlain over 30 years ago, I was in my 20s, I was bicycling across America and we rode a ferry across and around Rowan Oak caught that ferry across and I didn’t hear anything about a sea monster, I didn’t hear anything about Benedict Arnold, I didn’t know anything about the duck hunting, never would I have dreamed that decades later, it’d be the 45th state I shot some ducks in and get to crawl off into some real local culture and it really is, it’s a small duck hunting culture.

Steve Caron: I mean, even the hospitality when we were there.

Ramsey Russell: But it’s a tremendous duck hunting culture.

Steve Caron: Oh, the golden eye hunting there is world class.

Ramsey Russell: Have you ever done it there?

Steve Caron: I haven’t yet. I haven’t had the opportunity to do golden eye hunting, we’re going to plan on going back this December though, I’ve hunted back in the past there, actually some clients, some folks that we took sea duck hunting, they had a hell of a time. The first group of eiders they shot with us, one of the guys shot a hen eider out of the group and a drake and the hen eider hit him square in the chest when he killed it. I mean, it came out of the – flew right over his head and it hit him square in the chest, startled him a little bit, he picked it up and it was banded.

Ramsey Russell: I hope the same thing happened to me tomorrow.

Steve Caron: I think, they heard him screaming from 6 days over because he was so excited. But I ended up being real good friends with those folks and going out to Champlain and duck hunting out there with them and that was a mallard and black duck hunt. But yeah, I haven’t had the opportunity to golden eye hunt, but that’s coming up this year.

Ramsey Russell: We went to Matt’s, his dad had these long rails of golden eye silhouettes, they must have been 40, 50 years old, since he got back from Korea. And he was telling me how they put those long – I mean, it must have been 20ft, 30ft rails of golden eye silhouettes and they put them on floats and long line them out. And him and his brothers and daddy would get into a stone blind, they’re on that island and shoot golden eyes, that’s got to be an iconic hunt.

Steve Caron: And the work that they put into building that blind, Matt was telling me they got to redo, every year they have to rebuild that blind.

Ramsey Russell: Because of the ice, that’s crazy. What are we going to do tomorrow?

Steve Caron: Tomorrow plan is to go set up for those eiders, we’re going to launch out of the harbour here –

Ramsey Russell: There were no eiders here last week when you went scouting, but by god, they’ve been there the last couple of days.

Steve Caron: I could not find an eider, a scoter, an old squaw, I couldn’t find any sea ducks, really had me worried about what we’re going to do. But season opens tomorrow, real weird season this year it runs congruent with the regular duck season, limits have really changed this year because of the population of eiders.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, sea ducks aren’t doing good, eiders are not doing great, the bird flu is kicking them in their cojones.

Steve Caron: Yeah, they got hit hard. But we’re going to do our best. We got weather to deal with tomorrow, 15 mile an hour, northwest wind with gusts up to 30. So we’re going to have to find some shelter and find a nice place to anchor the boat up, hopefully find where the birds want to go, get out of the waves from and I think that the view is going to be unbeatable tomorrow. We’re going to be sitting there with a lighthouse to your back, eiders cupping up into the decoys back, that’s the plan.

Ramsey Russell: Tomorrow is your birthday.

Steve Caron: Tomorrow is my birthday, I turn 36 tomorrow.

Ramsey Russell: It’s like, I told your wife Melody, my birthday wish for you is, for you to take a picture of me holding a banded eider that I shot, Happy Birthday!

Steve Caron: Yeah, the banded eider that you shoot, that’d be –

Ramsey Russell: It’d be great.

Steve Caron: It would be an amazing birthday present, I couldn’t wait for that, yeah.

Decoy Carver Extraordinaire

Golden eyes, buffleheads, mallards, black ducks, how did you get into the decoy carving?

Ramsey Russell: I don’t want to end this podcast without talking about something else I think is really cool, is you carve decoys? And I love that hunting up there in Vermont, beautiful decoys, really, your hand detail with the airbrush is amazing. Golden eyes, buffleheads, mallards, black ducks, how did you get into the decoy carving? Because that’s kind of a cool thing. I mean, because we talked about iconic black ducks and the L.L Bean Cork decoys, is that what inspired you into decoy carving?

Steve Caron: I think, a lot of it really started with some of the older guys that I hunted with. I call him crazy old man Doug, I met him on duck hunting chat or one of those forums, he lived up in Hartsville, Maine. Hell of a carver, hell of a painter and he told me, he’s like there’s a guy that lives next to you, not too far from you who’s a great carver and he does lessons and classes and he really encouraged me to give it a try. So I did, I reached out to a guy named Jim Higgins who owns a sneak box decoys and he lives 3, 4 miles away, started going to classes, learning from him and kind of learn his style and started trying to make my own style and really got hooked into making mallards and black ducks and there’s nothing better than hunting over your own decoys. My first drake mallard I ever carved, I took it and I made sure that the first hunt was with Doug, up in his hometown of Hartsville where he was living. And the first drake mallard I shot when it hit the water, it hit that duck, it hit that decoy that I carved. And Doug looked at me, and his crazy little laugh and the way he talks, he just said, see, I told you they work. But he’s great and Jim’s been a big influence and the guys I carve with are lifelong friends. We see each other as often as we can, usually, every Wednesday night we try to get together, carve decoys together, made a lot, give most of them away to friends as gifts, made some teal decoys for my friends Andre and Aaron when we went to North Dakota this year to commemorate stuff.

Ramsey Russell: Why did you start carving? That’s not something just everybody starts to do. I mean, just go buy a bunch of plastic. What compels a guy that just got a career and a wife and a hunting addiction, why carve your own decoy? You’ve got hours and hours of each one of those decoys.

Steve Caron: Yeah, it just gives you a more of an appreciation of doing it yourself. And we can only kill one duck or 2 mallards or 2 black ducks, it means a lot more when you kill 2 mallards or 2 black ducks over your own decoys. Do I use the mass produced ones? Yeah, when I need to throw a big spread out and everything or if I need to be light and mobile or because I’m really slow at making them because I’m not that great yet, I’m not that experienced. But when you shoot them over your own decoys, it means a lot, it’s fun watching the birds work and a drake bufflehead coming in and landing a foot from your hand carved decoy, you just feel like you made it happen.

Dream Waterfowl Hunts

Where are some places you want to hunt?

Ramsey Russell: I know you’ve hunted around, you’ve hunted the Dakotas, you’ve hunted, recently out in Montana with our mutual friend, Chad and Tanya. Is there anywhere you haven’t hunted that you want, I mean, it’s a big country, Steve. Where do you want to go? Where are some places you want to hunt?

Steve Caron: I definitely want to get – I haven’t hunted the South at all. I haven’t hunted Texas, I want to take my wife duck hunting in Texas in her home state, I love to target sandhill cranes out there another species that I haven’t checked off the box. I want to try flooded timber and Arkansas type of stuff, the Mississippi Delta, those iconic places that you hear about where the capital of duck hunting was where everyone – the traditions are strong, now I want to try those places. I try to set a new goal every year, a new place, a new experience, a new species every year, once a year to do something like that.

Ramsey Russell: How can people get in touch with you on social media?

Steve Caron: I’m active on Instagram, my Instagram is a Foxtail.waterfowl or Facebook, you can look me up on Facebook, Steve Caron, that’s the primary forms of communication I use, I love sharing stuff with folks hearing new things –

Ramsey Russell: That’s how we met.

Steve Caron: That’s how we met.

Ramsey Russell: I came up here, hunted in Vermont and Maine, you’re going to come down south and whether we got duck or not, we’re going to have a good time.

Steve Caron: I think, people lose that opportunity to go travel and meet new people, they’re protective of their spots or they don’t want to share their information, but traveling and meeting new people, it opens new doors and social media is awesome for that. That’s how I met my friends in North Dakota, Blake Lawrence, Chad and Tanya, that’s how I met them, now they’re out in Montana.

Ramsey Russell: That’s how I met them, it’s how I met you through them, through social media. There’s a lot of negative, we can talk about social media, but there’s a whole lot of positives.

Steve Caron: If you use it for the right stuff then you’re the right person you can really benefit from it.

Ramsey Russell: So, I asked where you want to go because it’s a big country and I asked, how to get in touch with you, so maybe somebody listening will say I want to go to Maine and hunt real deal. I want to go to Vermont, I’d like to swap a hunt and do some stuff because I know you’re fixing to get real busy coming April, your life’s going to take a change. Congratulations on you all’s first –

Steve Caron: Baby girl, yeah. Baby girl coming in April. But yeah, I mean, I’m always open for meeting new folks, taking folks out shooting black ducks here or sea ducks or even traveling with folks. Like I’ve met guys out, just met them out on Long Island and we targeted brant together or met them out on the cape and we targeted sea ducks together in a new place just exploring the country, opening up those opportunities, meeting new people. Just the more connections you can make, the more fun you’re going to have.

Ramsey Russell: We checked out Vermont, today, we got 2 days in Maine because you all’s season run funny like, couldn’t hunt Sunday –

Steve Caron: Can’t hunt Sundays in Maine.

Ramsey Russell: Today, we could hunt geese –

Steve Caron: But the coastal zone is closed.

Ramsey Russell: The coastal zone where the geese were hunted was closed.

Steve Caron: For regular ducks till tomorrow.

Ramsey Russell: Now, we can shoot in the coastal zone, if we can find some black ducks to get, first we’re going to go after eiders, so today we shot a goose limit, we got lobster limits, tomorrow, we’re going to try for eiders and black ducks. Now, what’s the chance? I mean, black duck and eiders is going to be as simple as going out and scooping up lobsters.

Steve Caron: I think, we’ve got a real great plan in place for eiders. We found the birds, everyone I’ve talked to up and down the coast, all my friends are guide, they’re not having much luck right now, I think we’ve got probably the best plan of everybody as long as the weather works out. Tides are a little funky for black ducks, after an eider hunt, tide’s going to be coming up, so a little harder to jump, shoot black ducks find them in those coastal marshes, it’s not really super cold, but –

Ramsey Russell: Unless we knock out them out eiders first.

Steve Caron: And then we hurry up and get back, you know where we found them. I told you there’s one spot where I think they’re going to be and we walk down, we got 30 yards away and there they were, so we’re hoping that they’re going to be there tomorrow.

Ramsey Russell: I mean, to have encapsulated and tried to compress the main experience into 2 days, I think we did pretty damn good.

Steve Caron: I think, we’re on a great start so far.

Ramsey Russell: I mean, geese and lobsters and we’ve seen the eiders, we’ve seen the scoters, we’ve seen a bunch of black ducks, we got a plan in place to get them. Have I missed anything? Am I remiss in my Maine experience?

Steve Caron: I think, you’ve hit the icons of the state right there, you’ve hit the icons of the state. You even get to see some – we saw quite a few harlequins too which are really common in this area, that was crazy. And then, I think they’re probably going to end up coming in the decoys tomorrow, we’ll be able to watch them swim around.

Ramsey Russell: I hope they do.

Steve Caron: We’ll be right where they want to be.

Ramsey Russell: Harlequins is one of those duck, it’s like, I get it why people want to shoot them, but if you shot them, you shot them and I shot him out west and it’s not a bird, I don’t need to shoot anymore. But it’s beautiful just seeing those little things, man, they’re gorgeous birds. Hey, speaking of that, because I was just fixing to say, I don’t think they word to flip to eat. Yesterday, we went and what a cool shop, Steve Brettel had, another old school –

Steve Caron: World class carver.

Ramsey Russell: World class carver, the turkey decoys were amazing, but he used to guide way back in the day back when there were a bunch of eiders, he guided and I was shocked, it surprise you to hear him say that his favorite duck to eat was a fresh eider. Don’t freeze it, fresh out the water, what do you say? You brine it and fry it. And he said, the minute the blood starts to run clear, boom, take it off, don’t let it get cold, eat it. He liked it better than any duck.

Steve Caron: He’s the first person I’ve ever heard say that that is my favorite duck to eat and that he would take that over mallards or wood ducks or any other duck. Everyone else, they said, you ask them how to cook an eider? They say you boil it with a boot and you throw the eider away and eat the boot.

Ramsey Russell: Same recipes I’ve heard, yeah.

Steve Caron: And he swears by it, so if we kill some eiders tomorrow, I’m definitely trying that.

Ramsey Russell: Steve, huge thanks. Thank you for Vermont, thank you for Maine. This has been a really big highlight and look, man, I’m not a huge sea duck hunter, I’d love to go get on those eiders, I’ve always wanted to shoot an eider in Maine just to check it off the list. But to get old Char dog on one, I appreciate you getting on board with that project. But thank you for showing me this part of the world in grand scale 4 or 5 days of just absolute all I can handle. It’s been amazing.

Steve Caron: And I’ve learned a lot, just the knowledge you have of duck hunting, the different places you’ve been, the story you can tell, like it is an amazing experience and that’s kind of why we do this, that’s why I like bringing in new people, meeting new people and having this experience. It’s been a tough 5 days, you’ve come during the worst part of the season, but I think, we’ve done pretty good.

Ramsey Russell: No, we pulled it out of the shit or so to speak, it was everything, it far exceeded my expectations by all accounts.

Steve Caron: Mine too.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you very much. And folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere with my buddy Steve Caron here in Maine and Vermont, see you next time.

Podcast Sponsors:, your proven source for the very best waterfowl hunting adventures. Argentina, Mexico, 6 whole continents worth. For two decades, we’ve delivered real duck hunts for real duck hunters. because the next great hunt is closer than you think. Search our database of proven US and Canadian outfits. Contact them directly with confidence.

Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks