About forty years ago, after years of being closed, the season opened up for Atlantic brant along the northeast coast. The loss of eel grass caused the demise of the sea goose, but with the grass beds returning the birds flourished.
We used to hunt a salt marsh on the north side of Cape Cod, and we would see the strings of brant trading back and forth out over the ocean. The thought of getting a chance to hunt them seemed mighty exciting. Nobody offered brant decoys back in those days though.
My father owned a tree care business, and one of his crews came in at the end ofone day with an enormous white cedar trunk. They were going to take it to the dump, but thought somebody might be able to use it. I snatched the log and found a chain saw, and started whittling away. Pretty soon there were four brant bodies roughed out. Using a big sander, I smoothed out the saw marks, and then got down to carving some heads out of pine. The following day I started painting them.
On our next hunting trip to Cape Cod, we brought the four new brant floaters, all rigged with anchors and line, and six or eight Canadian geese silhouettes that I’d made a year or two earlier. The ocean was quiet, and it really wasn’t the classic duck hunting day, but any day with gun and dog is better than none. Sea ducks and brant were passing back and forth over the ocean, but well offshore. We found an old washed up log to hide behind on the beach, then set my new brant decoys in the water about ten yards from shore. The silhouettes we set right where the ocean met the beach, or maybe even one or two out in the water a little ways.
Hiding behind that log we waited for a flock of brant. When a bunch of about eight finally passed I gave them one sharp honk from a goose call, not the her-onk that I used on Canadian geese.
The brant reacted as if we had them on a fishing line. They turned and came right toward us and we each shot one. The Brittany ran into the sea and swam out to retrieve them one at a time. Things couldn’t have worked out better.And in case you’re wondering, they tasted delicious, just like black ducks.