PLEASE NOTE – LOON DAY HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!
Loon Day is an annual one day event in May hosted by the Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild. This event boasts a decoy competition, lunch, and a live auction.
The very first Loon Day celebration was 20 years ago or so, but the event was dropped until the opening of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum. At that time, the Guild began to hold the event again on the second Saturday of May each year.
Loon hunting and loon eating are traditions born and bred in Harkers Island and Salter Path. In the olden days, the locals lived on a part of the outer banks known as Shackleford Banks. These locals later moved to Harkers Island and other local communities after a series of devastating hurricanes. Times were hard and these people lived off of the water and hunted whatever they could. Hunters would station themselves about 100 yards apart on Cape Lookout and shoot loons in the spring of the year as they crossed the Banks in the migration from the ocean to the northern breeding grounds. It was not uncommon for there to be nearly 100 or more hunters lined up and down the beach for the morning flight. This was a valuable source of food back then, but as time went by, fewer people hunted loons as the older folks passed away. However, the Guild recognizes this custom as being an important part of their historic past and heritage.
Loon Day activities usually begin about 10:00 am on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, with everyone assembling at the H. Curt Salter Building (Guild Headquarters), located at 1574 Harkers Island Road. Decoys that are to be entered into the decoy competition are hidden before the judging so they cannot be prejudged from a closer perspective.
The first several years the decoy competition was for “loons only” but all types of ducks will be accepted (puddle, divers, geese, confidence), and of course, loons. The competition is a donation competition in that the decoy itself acts as the entry fee. All decoys entered become property of the Guild.
For the Loon Day decoy competition, the judging typically takes place at the Harkers Island Bridge area with the decoys out in the water and the judges making their evaluations from the shore. Everyone is invited to come to the bridge area to see the decoys out in the water. Entries have the chance of winning a $200 first prize cash award, a $100 cash award for second place, a $50 cash award for third, or a $25 cash award for fourth place. Everyone is invited to participate, regardless of skill, as this event is to benefit the Guild.
Over the years a shorebird competition has been added, as well as an antique decoy display. These aspects only add to the fun and diversity of the event.
After the judging takes place, and everyone returns to the H. Curt Salter Building, lunch is served (for a donation) and the winners of the decoy competition are announced. Finally, there will be a live auction of the competition decoys, including all the ribbon winners, as well as other decoys and items.
Loon Day is an event that recognizes and honors a time-old tradition, and also provides a fantastic fund raising opportunity in the form of the live auction.
Loons’ lives are filled with fun facts. For example:
*Loons can dive more than 200 ft below the surface of the water in search of food.
*Loons can fly more than 75 miles per hour. .
*Native Americans believed loons were “The Spirit of the Northern Waters,” and the French named it “The Diver with the Necklace.”
*The word loon actually comes from a Shetland Islands word loom, which comes from the Icelandic word lomr and the Swedish word lom, which both refer to someone who is lame or clumsy. Loons were called this because of how awkward and clumsy they appear on land.