Guided Sea Duck Hunting in Alaska’s Prince William Sound

Although Harlequin and Barrows Goldeneye are a primary target of our Alaska sea duck hunting trips, Prince William Sound is home to a large variety of wildfowl and our hunters have harvested as many as 13 species of sea ducks in one day. With vast river systems and many delta’s the area is prime habitat for a large variety of birds. Prince William Sound offers one of the richest ecosystems in the world and all of this adds up to an unforgettable experience for our clients.



Boat based Alaska sea duck hunts for Harlequin in Prince William Sound

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin ducks nest in the interior of Alaska commonly known as the tundra and obtain their plumage in early October. During freeze up they migrate towards the coast of Alaska and some continue further south as far as the state of Oregon. They are known to feed on aquatic invertebrates and are most commonly found in close proximity to outlying rocky outcroppings with shallow reefs. They move up and down the coastline looking for easy feeding grounds and their activity level can be very tidal dependent.

They are often seen in small flocks of up to about 7 birds however at times they can congregate in large groups on the outer coast. While in the air they tend to cluster which forces the hunter to be patient for the right shot opportunity. Harlequin typically decoy well and provide shots over decoys less than 20 yds however, make no mistake about this being an easy bird to kill.

On our Alaska sea duck hunting trips, it is very common to shoot them full pattern at that distance only to watch the bird fly away unscathed or they will fool the hunter by diving at the crack of the gunshot only to surface moments later and fly full speed away. If you don’t see a dead bird after you shoot be ready for an additional shot. We encourage our hunters to shoot full or extra full chokes when targeting them and high quality bismuth (3″ #4’s) is strongly recommended.

By the time Harlequin’s reach Prince William Sound they have completed their migration and will call it home until the winter has passed. For this reason we limit our hunters on all our Alaska sea duck hunts to shooting 2 Drakes per person for the duration of the trip. Being conservation minded means there will be good birds for future generations of hunters.


Boat Based Alaska Sea Duck Hunting For Barrows Goldeneye

Barrows Goldeneye’s

Barrows Goldeneye’s are very prolific in Prince William Sound in fact we often state that they are our staple bird on our Alaska sea duck hunts. While sitting over decoys if you see a bird approaching it’s typically a Barrows Goldeneye. After freeze up in interior Alaska they migrate south to the coast and find open water in Prince William Sound. In the early season we experience a double portion of birds as there is a vast quantity of them that are migrating through and a large quantity that will be wintering over in the Sound. Because many of the birds we are hunting are in fact resident birds we rotate our hunting area’s often to prevent over harvest and stale birds.

Barrows Goldeneye’s feed on aquatic invertebrates and in our area we have witnessed them feeding heavily on eelgrass. Contrary to popular belief these birds are absolutely delicious when prepared properly. Although, it is crucial to get the blood out of the meat so we soak it in saltwater and flush multiple times until clear. Cooking them on the Traeger grill on the boat probably doesn’t hurt anything either.

Barrows Goldeneye’s decoy extremely well and if you can sit still enough they will sit in your lap. Most shots are over decoys and at less than 20 yds. We still recommend full choke for them though as they are tough as nails and bismuth shot is strongly recommended as well. In our areas we take you on our Alaska sea duck hunts, it is common to see 3 color variations of this bird purple head, green head, and purple/green. For this reason many hunters choose to take at least 1 of each variation home with them to mount. Hybrid’s of Barrows and Common Goldeneye are rare but we typically see 1 a season that our hunters harvest.


Alaska Sea Duck Hunts for Merganser

Mergansers (Common and Red Breasted)

Surprisingly our most commonly requested birds after Harlequin and Barrows Goldeneye are the Mergansers. Common Mergansers are prolific in the Sound however not always the easiest bird to decoy. On all our Alaska sea duck hunts carry merganser decoys on the boat for targeting them however expect a 40yd pass shot on these guys. Common Mergansers typically achieve full plumage by the second week in November. Red breasted mergansers on the other hand tend to decoy a fair amount however they don’t obtain full plumage until the last couple weeks of the season for us. Plan on only being able to shoot a fully plumed drake after December 5.



Prince William Sound is home to all 3 of the scoter species. The common scoter isn’t overly abundant however shooting a couple for everyone is doable during the right conditions. The same could be said of the surf scoter in our area. Prince William Sound has many large mussel beds and many shallow reefs that make for excellent habitat for these birds. Fully plumed mature drake white wings are in short supply but there is a fair amount of juvenile birds to be had.


Old Squaw or Longtailed Ducks

Old Squaws are not very prolific in western Prince William Sound and we shoot very few each year.



Bufflehead are common in Prince William Sound and if it is a bird you would like to harvest please let us know at the beginning of the trip so we can add a couple decoys to our strings.


Common Goldeneyes

In years past we haven’t seen very many common goldeneye’s usually only around a dozen being harvested per season. In 2022 however we harvested many common goldeneye’s.


Bluebills or Greater Scaup

Bluebills are not overly common but we do shoot some now and again. Keep a sharp lookout for them though because we commonly mistake them for barrows hens as they look very similar at flight.


Puddle Ducks

Prince William Sound has an abundance of puddle ducks and Geese early in the season. Mallards, Green wing teal, Gadwall, and Wigeon are probably the most common but we have seen canvasback, spoonies, and pintails. On our Alaska sea duck hunting adventures you can expect to see some turn up on the hunts in October and early November.


The Canadian Geese we see are typically the Aleutian Cackling Goose however Dusky and Lesser Canadians are in the area as well. All of our hunters that have harvested them have taken them for mounts. If your group has an interest in targeting puddle ducks or geese please let us know before we depart one of our Alaska sea duck hunting trips.

Epic Boat Based Guided Alaska Sea Duck Hunting in the pristine wilderness of Prince William Sound

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