I’ve dug up just about everything the Pacific Northwest and the Puget Sound has to offer, with the only exception being the ever-illusive and much-coveted, Geoduck.
That was until just a few weeks ago. A friend of mine invited us (my Mom, my Sister, and I) to tag along with him and his family over to Hartstine Island during a minus tide, and attempt to achieve our limit of two (2) geoducks per person.
Did you know that geoduck in the native tongue means ‘dig deep.’ If you ever find yourself out digging for geoduck, you’ll find that that name definitely fits!
The appropriate mantra for geoducking is ‘Many hands make light work!’…I quickly discovered why we had been invited.
Most folks use garden variety shovels and fence post diggers, but fortunately, my friend Vern had a special homemade rig he built just for extracting geoducks.
Next, Vern fashioned what looks like an over-sized clam gun (what is used for digging razor clams). Only this one has about an 8″ diameter tube and a long, two-person handle. There were two petcock shut-off valves that could be open and closed to create suction in the tube.
We would slide the over-sized clam gun into the galvanized sleeve, and with each of us on either side of the handle, we would work the gun tube down into the sand. When we reached as far as we could go, Vern would twist the valves, and together, we pulled the tube out of the sleeve, filled with sand.
Repeat and rinse.
Another tube or two of sand, and one of us would reach down into the hole to feel around for the clam.
This was the point where we became ‘One’ with the beach. Literally.
You had to lay down on the beach and reach down into the hole as far as possible to locate the clams neck/siphon.
You also had to be very careful NOT to pull the clam out by it’s neck/siphon. If you pulled to hard, the neck would separate from the body/shell. You had to work your hand down and grab around the shell, then wiggle the shell body back and forth to free it from the sand.
The total process from start to finish typically took about 15 to 20 minutes. Conventional shovels can take an hour or more.
There were 7 of us altogether and we reached our limit (21) in about 3 hours. Of course, with Vern and I doing most of the gun action, it felt like we were doing it all day long!