Once the hunters are settled, White and his boat move off to a small bungalow which perches on stilts in the sound a mile away. This, too, is designed for comfort, complete with lavatory, living room with roll-away beds for afternoon napping and another well-stocked kitchen. From here White watches his clients through glasses.
Amazingly enough, this country-gentleman approach to hunting succeeds very well. Often birds begin winging into the rig before the boat is out of sight. All in the span of a half hour, a flock of geese may come in low along the water, black ducks will skim over the top of the blind, and a dozen brant will glide directly into the rig. In the beginning the uninitiated hunter can only watch, fascinated by his duck's-eye view through the bobbing decoys (see cover). But swiftly this fascination will be replaced by action.
White makes only one concession to traditional discomfort. When the shooting is over, the hunter must climb over the blind wall and wade to the fallen waterfowl, for on Pamlico Sound every man is his own retriever.
At noon, White's boat chugs back to the blind to pick up the hunters for lunch. In the little bungalow on stilts, hot coffee and a steaming caldron of mulligan stew bubble in the kitchen. Willis generally stays in the blind to do a little shooting of his own while the hunters dine. When they return, he'll have his limit.
THE GULF STREAM
South of Buxton, at HATTERAS VILLAGE, is the BLUE MARLIN DOCK, only an hour away by cruiser from the warm GULF STREAM. By mid-October the threat of hurricanes in the area is over. This is the time of year when big fish—virtually undisturbed by fishermen—swim along the current's edge and marlin fin in the autumn sun.
It is interesting that so few deep-sea anglers come to Hatteras. Even in summer their numbers are small. Local fishermen, like Edgar Styron, who runs the Blue Marlin and has fished the nearby waters professionally for more than 20 years, are surprised that their rich fishing grounds remain so unexplored; but, in their independent way, they are also rather pleased that they have the place to themselves.
Only eight charter boats docked at Hatteras Inlet this past season, and except for Styron's two cruisers, The Twins and The Twins II, most will have abandoned big-game angling by early October. In spite of the few fishermen trolling the Stream, 53 blue marlin and 22 white marlin have been taken off Hatteras Inlet this year. This compares with 26 blues and 111 whites taken off heavily fished Oregon Inlet in the same period.
During the month of November, Styron figures that there are at least 15 good days in which seas are calm enough to make the hour's run to the fishing grounds. And because the Stream is so close to Hatteras, there is that much more time for angling. But Styron's $75 daily charter does not guarantee catching marlin in November, any more than it does in summer. It does guarantee catching game fish, because fish are here, and plentiful, at all times of year.
If a marlin doesn't take the bait, there is always the chance that a kingfish, alba-core, bonito, amberjack, yellowfin or 30-pound school tuna will. These fish are taken regularly throughout the fall months. More than once, Styron has even hooked a dolphin and an occasional sail. Besides game fish, it is an unusual day when a shark doesn't fin across the wake of a skipping mullet. For many fishermen, the battle which can follow is every bit as exciting as any with a marlin.