What To Bring & FAQ
Disclaimer: This is not intended to provide an all-inclusive list. YOU are responsible for having the proper licensing and legal equipment at all times during your trip. This simply provides an overview of FAQ’s and general information.
General Duck Hunt Information:
- Weather: This is Eastern NC, so the weather swings wildly. One day during the November season may reach into the lower 80’s, and the next may be 25 with 30 mph winds. As a general rule, during the December season lows are typically in the 30’s, with highs reaching into the 50’s. As previously stated, all of this is subject to change! We have lots of wind and moist coastal air, so a 30-degree day can be brutally cold. During either season it can get as cool as 15 degrees with additional wind chill factors, or as high as 85 degrees. It is a wet/windy time out on the Pamlico Sound, please be prepared!
- Lodging: You will be lodged the beautiful Berkley Manor. Each group will have a private room and bathroom, and all linens are provided. The rooms are set up much like a standard hotel room.
- Location: The Berkley Manor Address is:
- Berkley Manor
- 58 Water Plant Road
- Ocracoke, NC
- Please communicate with us prior to your arrive your estimated time of arrival so that we can insure one of our staff members is present to get you checked in and ready for your hunt.
- Food – Guests will be treated to wonderful local fair while staying at the Manor. Below is a sample of the types of food we serve. Please keep in mind the menu will change to accommodate seasonal catches and options. You will not go hungry while staying with us! If your group has special dietary needs or request, please ask us ahead of time, we are very flexible.
- Evening appetizers – Every evening will begin with a traditional Eastern NC oyster roast or shrimp boil. Featuring steamed local fresh shrimp and Ocracoke oysters, it doesn’t get any better.
- Dinner – Traditional southern meat+three meals will grace our dinner tables. We normally try to incorporate some type of seafood, whether it be fresh fish, crab, or shrimp, along with southern staple vegetable dishes. We also mix in great options like ribeye steak, stuffed pork loin, fried chicken, and other succulent concoctions our team dreams up.
- Breakfast/Brunch – During our duck hunting trips we will offer hot coffee & tea, along with continental breakfast fair before your hunt in the mornings. When you return from you hunt between 9am-12pm we will feature a delicious southern brunch buffet. Grits, country ham, eggs, casseroles, and if you are lucky a few fried softshells mixed in!
- Travel: The only way to reach Ocracoke is by ferry. There are three departure options available to you: Cedar Island, Swan Quarter, Hatteras. Please consult with Rob regarding your travel plans so he can advise the best option for your party. We strongly recommend taking a ferry that is NOT the last one leaving from that terminal for the day.
- Gear & Licensing: On all of our hunts, we provide decoys, blinds, and guides. Your are responsible for having adequate warm/waterproof clothing, guns, ammunition, and licensing. We are more than happy to help guide you through the process of attaining the proper equipment and licenses. Checklist below!
- Retrievers – We love our retrievers! You are more than welcome to bring your retriever with you on your trip with Berkley Outdoors. Please understand, however, that curtain blind hunts are not conducive for hunting with a dog. If you are considering bringing a dog, give us a call and discuss the options with us beforehand. Well behaved dogs are welcome at the lodge, but must be kept in a kennel when indoors.
What to Bring:
- Waders – Chest waders recommended, hip boots might work if needed, please let us know ahead of time.
- Clothing – As stated above, the weather changes rapidly during the winter months. Good warm waterproof clothing is recommended. For outerwear, the color should be camo, brown, or green. Gloves, hats, and warm socks are a plus!
- Shotgun – 12 Ga. Is the most popular, but 16, 20, and in rare cases 28 ga. Weapons can be used.
- Gun case – This can protect your gun during the boat ride to and from the blind.
- Gun oil – It is a saltwater environment that we will be hunting in. We recommend a quick rub down with gun oil every evening to prevent rusting on your gun.
- Ammunition – Non-toxic shot is required. If shooting steel, #2-#4 sized shot is recommended. For other heavier alternatives such as bismuth or hevi-shot, #4-#6 is ideal. We recommend 25 rounds per day of hunting, but this depends entirely on your “abilities”!
- Choke – We recommend bringing improved cylinder and modified chokes. For curtain blind hunts, the imp. Cylinder is the best option, for all others we recommend modified.
- Facemask – This is not a requirement, but we highly recommend guests bring and use some type of facemask during you trip. These birds, especially pintails, are completely wild and a facemask greatly helps conceal shining faces.
- Ear Protection – Not required, but it is loud in some of our pit blinds when guns go off.
- Walking Stick – This can be helpful while wading to the blinds
- Linens – If you are staying with us, all linens and towels are provided. No need to bring any of that.
- Licensing (all must be signed and on your person while hunting):
- NC Hunting License
- HIP Certification
- NC Waterfowl Privilege
- Federal Duck Stamp
- Non-toxic shot only – Lead shot is not allowed. You must use steel or another approved non-toxic shot at all times while waterfowl hunting.
- Weapon – No weapons larger than 10 ga. Are allowed. Your gun must have a plug in it allowing no more than 3 rounds in your gun (2 in the magazine) at a time.
- Licenses must be on your person at all times.
What is a Curtain Blind or “Sinkbox”
We have a lot of questions about what exactly a curtain blind or “sink box” is. To properly explain this, we need to flip back through the pages of history to the market gunning days on the Pamlico Sound. Until they became illegal to sell in the early 1900’s, there was a robust market for waterfowl in big cities such as New York and Boston. The Pamlico & Currituck Sound regions were home to some of the largest wintering flocks of fowl on the east coast, and the preferred method of hunting these waterfowl was a device called the sink box. These sinkboxes were something of a cross between a pit blind and the modern layout boat. If you could imagine a floating pit blind that you could transport by boat to wherever the ducks were, you’d about have it.
Because the sink box was so effective, it was outlawed by federal law in the early 1900’s (although hunting from them persisted through the 1950’s in various regions). The local watermen of NC developed a takeoff of the sink box that offered many of the hunting advantages, but was legal; alas the curtain blind was born. The curtain blind can only be used in shallow water areas, because the base, or pit, portion of the blind is buried in the sand just like a normal pit blind (this is what makes it legal). The second element of the blind is a canvas curtain that seals to the edge of the buried pit, and can be raised and lowered with the tide to keep the water out.
Because you are able to hunt out in the open water, but remain virtually invisible to approaching ducks, it is one of the most exciting and effecting duck hunting methods, period.
For more information on the sink box and Pamlico Sound market gunning history, I highly recommend the book “Outlaw Gunner”.
For more information on the modern day curtain blind, I highly recommend booking a duck hunt with Berkley Outdoors to see for yourself!