Mike Marsh, Carol Marsh, Justin Marsh, Richard Manuel and Robert Manuel with tundra swans taken during a hunt in Northeastern N.C. with Culley Wilson of Wild Wing Adventures.

Swans wintered in large numbers at Pungo Lake and Lake Phelps, making the hunting excellent. However, the big birds get warier every year and many flocks veered away from the decoys.

The trick is using camouflage face nets and sliding down as low in a ditch as possible. Shots can be long at these birds, which can weigh more than 18 pounds. Shot sizes should be BB steel or No. 2 Tungsten. Hunters should try to hit the head and neck for clean kills. A chase for a cripple can go on for a mile across soggy farm fields, until the bird falls into one of the deeper canals and can't climb out.

A dog with lots of heart can chase down a swan and hold it by antagonizing it until the hunter can arrive to finish the fight. A really aggressive retriever can kill a swan and retrieve it. But a swan is capable of injuring an inexperienced retriever with blows from its wings.

For archery hunts, better to leave the dog at home because there are typically lots of arrows sticking up in the ground and a downed swan may have an arrow protruduing.