If you are a dyed-in-the-Under-Armour swamp rat like me, addicted to quack, you owe yourself a duck hunting trip to Central North Dakota.  It's the best med for the head you can self-prescribe.  You'll experience the soul-soothing raw beauty of the prairie; the warmest people west of the Mississippi; the best waterfowl show not on TV; and, as the Tundra tailgate photograph proves, meat for the pot.  I just got back from the Sheridan/Wells/Kidder County area north of the Interstate and I'm feeling better already.

This is what I saw: Ducks.  By the thousands.  Mallards outnumbering even the plentiful gadwall. Last Monday afternoon we filled early but just sat, mesmerized, by the sight of hundred-mallard flocks spiraling into a nearby barley field.  Like feathered tornadoes.  I did not see many divers.  But pintails, widgeon, shoveler, and blue-winged teal were there in truly impressive numbers.  Geese.  The snows and blues weren't down yet but Canadas were ever-present.  And cacklers.  Those fine-table-fare cacklers providing nourishment for the hungry hunter.



Water levels surprisingly near normal given our local drought.  Down?  Yes, but only a few yards of mud ringing the typical prairie pothole.  And most bottoms are like walking down a sidewalk.  Important for a hunter of my age.

The ranchers there are, for the most part, glad to see duck hunters.  There is posting but I did not find getting permission to be a problem.  Two grain producers told me the number of local and imported hunters is way down this year -- a curious turn of events.  It is a 400+ mile hump out there and Interstate 94 gas prices were approaching $4.  But what price nirvana?  Just do it.


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