Monday, October 3, 2011
Hunting on the Maurice River
I received the call from Ranney last Wednesday. " Can you shake loose to make a Rail-bird hunt Friday at about 12:30?" When that call comes this Sportsman clears the desk and reschedules nearly anything to join in. Friday's high tide was at about 12:30 P.M. and this excursion requires launching at the high point in order to navigate over the rice "meadows."
I have posted on rail-bird hunting before. It is a challenging form of hunting which finds one precariously perched on the front of a 100 year old hand made cedar skiff. The man in back poles the skiff through the wild rice marshes that line the Maurice River near Port Elizabeth,New Jersey. As we slowly glide through the marsh, the Rails... migratory birds about the size of a large Starling....pop up and fly. The hunter on the bow hopes to shoot the bird and the Poler marks where it lands. Then the Poler reaches out with his long Cedar pole and retrieves the bird. Shooting from a boat is difficult and standing with your front foot wedged under the decking for stability takes practice. The movement of the boat on each push exerts a force that can easily topple the shooter into the water if care and balance are not exact.
The marshes in this region are quite beautiful and the weather was mild and agreeable with light winds to keep things cool and keep the bugs away. It really is a thrilling and timeless Sporting endeavor that is only available to select groups who have an "in" with the guides who pole the boats and run the hunts. To my good fortune, Ranney is one of those guys and he gets the reservation when time, tide and season intersect.