Sun Showers

April 2, 2009 by  

By PJ Maguire

Waterfowlers dream of the days where the stratosphere opens up with dropping ducks.

Waterfowlers dream of the days where the stratosphere opens up with dropping ducks.

One crisp fall morning in the recent past, I was sitting at a counter waiting on breakfast in Lawton, North Dakota. We were at Doris’ Café, which happens to be attached to the only gas station in town. In my opinion it is probably the last place to get a good breakfast for fewer than five bucks. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll remember it for it’s uniqueness and old-fashioned style. Outside, yellow and brown leaves danced past the gas pumps along the asphalt parking lot. It was like a staged scene from the movie, American Beauty.

A few of the local farmers were mingling near the front door in the bright sun and Dorris was behind the counter. As I sipped on weak coffee, I took note of how Dorris was prepping our breakfast. This isn’t weight watchers, this is a real hometown breakfast. She was frying our eggs in bacon grease, white toast covered in butter, and stirring fresh soup all while smoking a cigarette. This is my kind of place and I would not have rather been anywhere else for breakfast.

“I feel like we should be talking about some important aspect of duck hunting.” My buddy “The Professor” said, breaking the silence. We had been sitting in a decoy spread earlier and had picked up to get breakfast. I don’t recall how many birds we had in the back of my truck, but I imagine that we had a few.

“What do you have in mind there Hot-shot?” Asked Chris Coffey, a friend from the University of North Dakota with a smile.

“How about decoying ducks? Since every time I come to hunt ducks in North Dakota, it seems like you boys take some awfully long shots.” Replied the Professor who was up hunting with the two of us from Kansas.

“Long shots?” Asked Chris.

“You see, we’re a bit different down in Kansas. Around Thanksgiving, the time the mallards show up, my friends and I hunt man made reservoirs. On bright, sunny days with clear blue skies and a cool breeze, most of our shots are under twenty yards,” he explained.

“Clear skies?” Asked Chris.

“Yes. Clear skies. I believe that sunny, windy days are the best for decoying mallards. Good weather for them to see the decoys I imagine. There are days when I question whether or not these birds have even been shot at before,” replied the Professor with a smile.

“Fresh birds.” I muttered, mostly to myself, staring out the window taking in the autumn day.

“Have you ever been duck hunting during a sun shower?” Asked Chris.

“No. I don’t believe so.” Remarked the Professor.

“Well, a few years ago when I was still in high school in Bemidji, I always hunted ducks on a silver-dollar sized beaver pond. Due to a creek draining into the pond it was chalk full of wild rice. 

Now the pond did not hold a lot of birds all the time, but when the weather turned, the mallards sought shelter from the big water in that pond. Plus, during busy times like opening day of the duck season, birds would go there for shelter as well. One day it was partly cloudy and it began to down pour with the sun shining. From seemingly nowhere, flocks of mallards began to trickle into the pond, all of which aimed for my decoys. I was in the process of retrieving the last drake mallard of my daily limit by the time the rain ended. It was the best fifteen minutes of decoying birds I have yet to experience and that is why I think that sun showers are the best time to decoy ducks.” stated Chris.

“Huh? They had good visibility with water on the windshield? Interesting.” Remarked the Professor with a smile.

Just then, Doris plopped a plate with bacon, eggs, and toast in front of me and my attention was drawn to the breakfast. But for just a moment, I paused to capture the scene in my mind that accompanied the story. Even with breakfast merely inches in front me of, I wish I could have been at the beaver pond, with my duck call in hand, the day the mallards came into the decoys during a sun shower.


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