Each year, thousands of migrating waterfowl show up in eastern North Carolina, which has plenty of beaver swamps, impounded grain fields, creeks, lakes and sprawling sounds where a duck can find a place to rest and eat.

For adventurous duck hunter ready to see thousands of birds at a time, the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds are two of the best places in the country to find a limit of ducks during the winter. But these sounds are big, broad and can be treacherous places any time of year. Hunters need to understand where they are traveling and keep a boat full of safety gear just in case trouble shows its ugly head. 

The Pamlico Sound is the largest sound on the eastern seaboard, covering more than 2,000 square miles, with an average depth of 5 feet. While some deeper sections contain water depths of more than 20 feet, massive shoals exist that create boating hazards for duck hunters. Also, sound has been known to get nasty in a flash and can swamp a boat in a second.    

Luckily, the majority of the sound only experiences a wind-driven tide. Experienced boaters can predict water depths depending on prevailing winds. Even then, the sound can be a dangerous place and must be treated with respect. 

Capsized on the sound during the winter is the last way anybody wants to spend the day. Shooting a limit of ducks will be quickly traded for trying to stay alive in the frigid waters with no dry land anywhere around. 

Before heading out, hunters should understand where they are headed and be sure to bring adequate safety gear in case of an emergency. To be safe, always go with a boater with experience on local waters or with an experienced duck hunting guide who has extensive knowledge of the area and knows right where the ducks are hanging out.