Chicken neckers

If you weren’t born here (on the Eastern Shore of Maryland), you’re called a “chicken necker.” The term refers to people (from the Western Shore of the Bay) who come here and crab using a long line with a chicken neck tied to the end. Dropped in the water and watched carefully, when a crab grabs the bait, you s-l-o-w-l-y pull the line up till you can dip your net under the crab and pull it in. Locals and commercial watermen use either crab pots or trot lines (we learned about trot lines with Bill Sewell not long ago – https://chesapeakejournal.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/what-do-bull-lips-veal-razor-clams-eel-and-chicken-necks-have-in-common/).

Actually, the term “chicken necker” can be applied to anyone who is not a native, whether they crab or not. A loose term  for “outsider”. It’s interesting how much of an issue that is around here. I’ve never lived anywhere where it matters so much whether you’re a native or not. I still don’t get it (who cares? You’re here now.)

This is a crab pot with a chicken neck for bait. You can see that it’s successful.

Last week we went out with Jim Scoggins with some crabpots near Trappe, MD. Great fun, and a picture-perfect afternoon. Jim had a couple dozen crabpots which were baited and placed in long lines in a cove. The bait (chicken neck) is tied inside the bottom of the pot. The pots (more like metal traps than pots) have sides that drop down and lie flat on the bottom, and are attached to lines with pieces of swim noodle used as floats. Any nearby crab smells the bait, and crawls onto the pot. We’d tool around to each pot, grab the noodle and pull the line up quickly so as to trap the crab – if there is one – inside the pot, bring it in the boat and drop the crab in the bushel.

Time flies when you’re doing this. I worked the starboard side of the boat, Kevin worked port, and Jim drove around, expertly avoiding tangling lines in the propeller. After a little while, we got the hang of it. Jim would slide up near a float and call out which side it would be on – if it was starboard, I’d bend over and reach down to grab it. By the time I’d get the crab out and drop it in the bushel, he’d call out “this one’s for you, Kevin!” I’d toss the pot back in the water and Kevin would be unloading his pot. It was super fun.

In a couple of hours, we caught half a bushel of crabs. And Jim, (kind and generous guy that he is) – let us take them all home. THANK YOU!  Crabs cooked an hour after they’re caught, by you, with friends on a beautiful day, taste …..fantastic!

You know, I’ve been called far worse things than a “chicken necker” (once worked as a social worker in a locked hospital psychiatric ward where people were not at their best). 

So go ahead. Call me a chicken necker. I’ve got no problem with it.

~ by kbosin on September 3, 2011.

3 Responses to “Chicken neckers”

  1. smh…those are not pots, theyre traps. Damn chicken necker.

  2. whatEVER, thanks!

  3. Just gotta say, using a term like that makes you sound very ethnocentric

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