Guest Post by Josh Wolfe
A waterfowl hunter spends a lot of time on the road, following the migration. Here are a few places that I love to visit as I travel from duckhole to duckhole.
In “Nothing To Do For Three Weeks,” writer Gordon MacQuarrie, best known for his short stories involving hunting and fishing, establishes his belief that “the prudent duck hunter’s greatest solace is a second breakfast.” The first breakfast takes place in the predawn hours after rolling out of bed. This one is especially important as it will give you the energy (which you’ll likely work and shiver off) to keep you warm during the cold hours ahead. The second happens after the hunt, and can be enjoyed either back at camp or at one of the various diners around the country that caters to hunters, specifically duck hunters.
Below I’ve listed a few favorites that I’ve discovered along the miles of traveled road, most of it with & dogs atow in a travel crate. If you ever find yourself in one of these areas, stop in for that much deserved second breakfast, lunch, or dinner and cocktails. For the most part, these places will fill your stomach while leaving your wallet about the same size as when you walked in.
There are numerous guides and outfitters in the area, and Tunica Lake offers public access to some fine duck hunting if you do your homework and the water level of the Mississippi River cooperates.
Established in 1924, this landmark of downtown Tunica, Mississippi, is situated on Route 61 and is a popular spot for waterfowlers hunting at the top of the Mississippi Delta. Known for its great food and hospitality, the Blue and White opens very early for breakfast and remains so through lunch where burgers, pork chops and fried catfish adorn the menu for the hungry. I had the fried shrimp, which were some of the largest and freshest I’ve ever had. Restaurants don’t stay in business for bad service and worse food.
“Earl Buss-Bayou DeView WMA encompasses only 4,435 acres, but it’s rarely overcrowded, and when conditions are right, the duck hunting here is little short of phenomenal.” – Game and Fish Magazine
Josie’s is a personal favorite of many duck hunters for more reasons than just the food. For years, I hunted a farm in Cherry Valley, Arkansas, with four or five pits, several blinds and about a hundred acres of rice fields and just enough water. And so it happened that right down the road was Josie’s. It was mostly in the evenings when we’d pull out of camp to eat a steak, share some stories and blow off some steam. On weekends, they have karaoke for guaranteed entertainment or embarrassment, depending which side of the coin you’re on. I even met 2011’s World Duck Calling Champion Antonio Jones just days after he claimed one of the most coveted awards in the duck hunting community.
Why! They ain’t no duck hunting in Memphis! While that’s true, I bet more duck hunters travelling to the south’s Mississippi Flyway drive through Memphis than any other city. Whether you’re going to or fro your hunting destination, Memphis is jam packed with awesome eateries.
The most popular, Rendezvous (formally and respectfully Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous), is right on time every time. But for me, TJ Mulligan’s is where I’ve stopped on so many occasions with my father and friends, usually on our return home from the Arkansas Delta. First, the food is spectacular. I’m a reuben sandwich aficionado, couple that with one of their many draught beers and… Well, let’s just say I can’t think of a better way to kick back and reflect on the weekend. There are pool tables and dart boards in case you’re not in a hurry to get home.
“Crab Orchard offers a freelance area and a daily draw for blinds. Late-season hunting is best—when there’s snow and ice in the upper Midwest it will help push large numbers of birds into the area.” – Outdoor Life
Years ago I traveled out near Marion, Illinois, to hunt ducks. At the time, it was the farthest I’d ever driven for waterfowl. And to this day, it was the most unsuccessful trip, numbers wise, I’ve ever been on. There have been other slow hunts, but I have to factor in the mileage just to kill one duck.
The thing that still sticks with me to this day is the memory of eating ribs at Grumpy’s Smokehouse just down the road from Marion in Carterville, at the junction of Highways 13 and 148. At first I had laughed out loud at the name, but when it was all said and done I could not stop raving about how good the barbeque was… in Illinois. Though they may seem quite inappropriate together, ribs and whiskey are one of those combinations that suits me like peas and carrots, or whatever. On Friday nights, they have all you can eat catfish, but A) being a southern boy who can eat catfish whenever and B) instantly hooked on the smell of delicious meats smoking in a hickory pit, it was just too much to pass up. In hindsight, it was the right call.
This is a working list, and Gunner Kennels would love to hear your favorite places to eat while on the road. Comment below with any recommendations you have, and we will add them to the list.
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