Clam digging is a huge rush for Dave Pulsifer of Ipswich Shellfish Company, but guess what’s not for supper?
By Jack Morris
Hunched over like an offensive lineman in heavy mud for hours at a time under a scorching sun is one of the harder ways we know of to make a few bucks. But don’t tell that to Dave Pulsifer, 33, clam digger for Ipswich Shellfish Co. He gave us the lowdown on how he does it and why he can’t stand the taste of clams anymore.
Why did you become a clammer? I’ve been with Ipswich for seven years as a warehouse and driver manager, but I just got my clam digging license in April. I had been coming home in the mornings after working nights, my wife would leave for work, and I’d watch the kids while falling asleep. All I wanted to do was get my clam digging license so I wouldn’t have to work the overnights. Now I can go home and have dinner with my family every night.
What does it take to succeed in this line of work? All you need is a pair of clam boots, a hand rake, and a bucket. But it really helps if you have a boat to get to some of the areas. Also, there’s a technique to digging-you basically have to use all your muscles. And you have to know where to go.
How do you know where to go? I go with the veterans who know where to dig. The clams leave divots in the sand, so if you know what to look for, you can find them, but I’ve seen guys dig where there are no holes and get clams. It’s crazy.
What’s been your best day so far? Recently, the price was $1.40 per pound, and I dug two hundred pounds in three hours. It’s a stress release. I just focus on digging and not about daily pressures. It’s a great feeling when you’re done.
What’s been your most difficult day? The first time I went clamming was in one of the worst areas to dig. For four hours, I put my head down and dug away and ended up with 96 pounds. I was so determined to make the money back since I had just spent $450 on my license, but I only made $96. It’s an adrenaline rush. Time is money.
What’s your favorite way to eat clams? I don’t like to eat them. I used to when I was a kid, but I can’t eat them now because I see them too much. When I first started digging, I would just sit on the couch and see the clams. The next day, I asked another clammer about it. They all say it’s normal, but I was freaking out.