Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Joe Guide » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:55 am

I am finishing up the last half of my next outdoors book: The Rail Hunter's Bible.

Just wanted to know how many wildfowlers out there have had the opportunity to go on a rail hunt.

Have you tried "traditional rail hunting " which is, being poled by a guide through rice or saltmarsh throughout a flood tide while the gunner sits/shoots from a chair in the front of the boat/skiff. It can be some awesome shooting normally with a 28ga, 20 ga or .410 ga. shotgun.

You can find some videos on YOU TUBE on- Rail Hunting, Sora Rail, and Clapper rail hunting if you are interested in seeing what rail hunting is all about! When I grew up outside of Charleston, SC we just refered to all species as "Marsh Hens".

Best regards for the season.

Joe Guide
Last edited by Joe Guide on Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby grizz18 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:57 am

We've done this several times. Its a lot of fun. Almost like upland bird hunting, but you're in a boat. Ol Marsh hens will stay tight some times!
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Joe Guide » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:08 am

Yes sir, you are sooooo right!

Rails can hide better than a quail. They love hiding and holding tight in the sweet Spartina grass, but I think they can run faster than quail, and slip through thick spartina grass as thin as a rail. At 15 birds per daily bag, it is surprizing that many wildfowlers don't try hunting them a few times each year.

I like to grill four of em at a time, wrapped in bacon, and eat over a bed of wild rice. All rail species taste like a quail, and the sora is probably the fastest of all the species. Although the NC season went out in early November this year, they are still open in season in South Carolina until 16 December 2012. There's probably over a million Clapper & Virgina rails along the coastal saltmarshes in South Carolina right now. It's just amazing how many sportmen ignore this species.

O course, It is a labor intensive sport, as poling a skiff in a flooded saltmarsh can be hard on a lot on older people's shoulders. It is a noble sporting bird - the marsh hen. I've been hunting them along the saltmarshes since 1966.

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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby grizz18 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:16 am

Most people don't know about! Keep in on the down low, we already have 6 hunters per duck around these parts in SE NC.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Ithaca33 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:19 am

I hunt them upland style on salt marsh flats over my pointer. its a blast and he loves jumping off the mud flats into the water to retrieve them lol.
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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Botiz630 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:33 am

I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby grizz18 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:41 pm

Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.
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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Botiz630 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:48 pm

Are they good to eat?
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby jehler » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:05 pm

Joe Guide wrote:I am finishing up the last half of my next outdoors book: The Rail Hunter's Bible.

Just wanted to know how many wildfowlers out there have had the opportunity to go on a rail hunt.

Have you tried "traditional rail hunting " which is, being poled by a guide through rice or saltmarsh throughout a flood tide while the gunner sits/shoots from a chair in the front of the boat/skiff. It can be some awesome shooting normally with a 28ga, 20 ga or .410 ga. shotgun.

You can find some videos on YOU TUBE on- Rail Hunting, Sora Rail, and Clapper rail hunting if you are interested in seeing what rail hunting is all about! When I grew up outside of Charleston, SC we just refered to all species as "Marsh Hens".

Best regards for the season.

Joe Guide

i would love to but my ID skills suck with shore birds, your book covering that?
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Indaswamp » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:16 pm

grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby ScaupHunter » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:38 pm

We have a great time shooting snipe here in Washington. When duck hunting is slow you can push the brushy edges and shoot snipe until your limited or out of shells whichever comes first. They are lightning fast little bugers. The limit is posted in the state waterfowl regs.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Indaswamp » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:41 pm

Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....
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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Botiz630 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:49 pm

Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....


WOOP WOOP! Load up HNT, we got us some poachers to wrangle!
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby grizz18 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:51 pm

Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....


No different than sculling, or jump shooting right?
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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby jehler » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:51 pm

Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....

Nope, not a human powered boat, see sculling
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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Botiz630 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:53 pm

grizz18 wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....


No different than sculling, or jump shooting right?


Oh me and HNT are heading straight for Carolina.
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Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby grizz18 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:35 pm

Botiz630 wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....


No different than sculling, or jump shooting right?


Oh me and HNT are heading straight for Carolina.


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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Indaswamp » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:09 pm

jehler wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....

Nope, not a human powered boat, see sculling

there is a provision for sail boats...sails must be lowered must come to a complete stop. Are rails shot with the boat still in progress?
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby goldfish » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:30 pm

Indaswamp wrote:
jehler wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
Indaswamp wrote:
grizz18 wrote:
Botiz630 wrote:I have got to move toward the coast. There are just way too many things that you guys get to do that I don't.


Its pretty fun. You literally stand on the bow of the boat and push up creeks that are sometimes smalle than the boat is wide. The birds flush and the person on the bow knocks them down.

Are rails considered waterfowl by the UFWS?

reason I ask is that I thought it was illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat....

Nope, not a human powered boat, see sculling

there is a provision for sail boats...sails must be lowered must come to a complete stop. Are rails shot with the boat still in progress?

That still doesn't apply to a human powerd boat though. If someone is rowing or paddling or poling, the whole boat moving thing shouldn't apply. In the land of no open water hunting the 10000 lakes, you can still push thru rice and vegitation to jump shoot birds in MN.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Rick Hall » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:33 pm

As long as the vessel isn't motor or sail powered, it needn't be stopped to legally shoot from it. On the East Coast rails are hunted by "pushers" (would be "polers" here) guiding sports who often shoot from a moving boat quite legally. Really no different than sculling or paddling to jump shoot.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Indaswamp » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:42 pm

Rick Hall wrote:As long as the vessel isn't motor or sail powered, it needn't be stopped to legally shoot from it. On the East Coast rails are hunted by "pushers" (would be "polers" here) guiding sports who often shoot from a moving boat quite legally. Really no different than sculling or paddling to jump shoot.

good to know...then our poule d'eau rallies from pirouges back in the day were totally legal...and extremely effective with the wind at your back...
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby ScaupHunter » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:57 pm

Washington allows you to shoot from a moving boat so long as it is not under power. Under power means that the boat is moving from propulsion by an engine which can be gas or electric. Hunting while moving under manpower is legal.

I have no idea how other states handle their regulations.
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby scopolamine » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:29 pm

I'd love to hunt them down here on the Texas coast. I just need to have someone show me one in the wild. When's your book out?

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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby Joe Guide » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:10 am

I will try to get "THE RAIL HUNTER's BIBLE" out to my publisher sometime the summer of 2013. I had to put things on hold due to my second deployment last winter to Afghanistan.

You have to live in a coastal or freshwater (ricefield) area where the high tides are super enough to flood the ricefields, or spartina grass flats and drive the marsh hens (Clapper, VA, or Sora) in saltmarsh, or (King, VA and Sora) on fresh water rice fields.

CONN, NJ, DEL, VA, North and South Carolina, GA, and some part of NE FL (flats behind Amelia Is) during the seasons are best. Along the Gulf and Central FLW...their H/T are usually not high enough to cause a super tide for hunting marsh hens. There are impundments and fresh water rice fields or former rice fields from MN down to Ohio, MO, MISS, ARK where it can be done if you can catch the migration during those states seasons. Only a handfull hunt them in the gulf coast and down the central flyway.

Fewer even know much about them in the SW WA state, and big deltas of Oregon and Califorina Sacramento Delta (**currently off limits due to restoration of King rail/California rail) I was out there one weekend in Sacramento's great Delta - just last October with my camera trying to get a good photo while I was a student at Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA.

Check out some of my wildfowl videos on rail hunting on YOU TUBE ( joe guide rail hunting)
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Re: Rail Hunting (Clapper, Virginia and Sora)

Postby HNTFSH » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:18 am

Botiz630 wrote:WOOP WOOP! Load up HNT, we got us some poachers to wrangle!


Don't be callin' poachers, poachers. It pisses them off.

Interesting though - the Rails here have the same daily bag limit as possession limit. 25.
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