Last weekend was the Minnesota Duck hunting opener and as usual I was down in Wabasha, MN with my buddy Eric. Opening weekend is very rarely about killing ducks but we have had a a couple of entertaining openers. This year was going to be more about hanging out with Eric and his family than it was going to be about duck hunting. The forecast for the weekend looked beautiful, if you were planning on having a weekend barbecue. highs in the 80's and sunny don't make the most comfortable hunting conditions. Especially when you're wearing waders.
Eric and I were going to be hunting the Wisconsin side of the river and Wisconsin 's season didn't open until 0900. Eric felt that if we want ed to get a decent spot we were going to have to be out there early. We got up at 0200 and were out in the swamp by 0300, the first spot we went to already had hunters in it. Because the weather was so warm there were hunters that opted to sleep in their boats and stay out all night. There were even a few hunters that set up a full camp site out in the swamp to stay there all weekend. As soon as the sun came up we saw lots of ducks moving around and could here a good amount of shooting coming from the Minnesota side of the river. Minnesota opened their season 30 minutes before sunrise. The duck activity slowed a bit and then right before 0900 we had one wood duck set in over our heads and land In a spread of decoys right in front of Eric's brother and Dad. It was still before legal shooting time so they had to just watch it for a while and then it flew away. That was about all we saw for the rest of the morning, by 1100 it was so warm we were ready to head in.
Day two was more of the same, we headed out early this time to a spot in the woods with a few potholes of water. We were mostly hoping to get a few wood ducks out of the morning. We saw some ducks flying high over the trees but nothing came down into the woods right away in the morning. Hunting little pools of water in the woods can be a bit sporting because the wood ducks will fly right through the woods and you will never see them coming until they appear for a couple of seconds and then disappear again into the woods. That is what happened with the first ducks that came through. they flew right over Eric and he saw them and took a shot before I even noticed they were there. The second set of duck came in while I was watering a tree and never even saw them either. That was about it for the day, we headed in and back to Eric's place and his brother Mark had shot 3 wood duck that morning so we did have a few duck to cook up.
Wood ducks are in my opinion the best tasting ducks there are you really don't need to do anything to them. I like to cook them with a little salt and pepper and fry them in butter for a couple of minutes on either side just so they are medium rare. With these breasts I also made a peach-habenero bourbon sauce to pour over them and I served them up on some blue corn grits and garnished with some soured corn. It was amazing, I only wish I had more duck to work with. The good news is the season just started and I am sure that more ducks are in my future.