Food, time afield with friends on the last day of duck season

It was one of the best duck seasons we’ve ever enjoyed. The last week was one of the best of the entire season.

Sunday's sunrise was gorgeous, but held few ducks after a week of great hunting.

Sunday morning five of us shared side-by-side blinds in western Reno County, where three friends had shot their five-each limits of drake mallards by 8 a.m. the previous morning.

So it had gone for about a week. The action had been seriously good about everywhere we hunted.

Sunday’s colorful dawn found no expected flocks of hundreds of mallards as two nights of very cold had probably sent the birds back to a river and flowing water. No problem. Ducks were only part of what we’d planned for the last day of the season.

Ed Markel, foreground, and Bob Snyder watch for ducks as the makings for breakfast burritos simmer.

In the blind I assembled a small camp stove and cooked huge breakfast burritos of four eggs, bacon, sausage, onion, sweet peppers, jalapenos, mushrooms and cheese wrapped in huge tortillas. (Yep, Hank got his own burrito, too.)

The hunting was slow by the standards of the week, with 15 birds taken.

As long-planned, four of us headed to the Wheatland Cafe in tiny Hudson. Their $10 Sunday buffet is so reminiscent of meals cooked by somebody’s country grandma – chicken fried in thick iron skillets, fork-tender smoked hams, real creamed corn, green beans, and variety of homemade desserts.

Three of us headed back to the pond, hoping to squeeze every minute from the season. In 60-degree temps we laughed and remembered while we watched a blue sky that occassionally shared a few ducks. We combined for nine more birds.

At last light a sizable flock of mallards worked and worked and buddy Bob Snyder had a rare miss on about the only drake within range. Just two minutes past the end of legal shooting time a flock of redheads drew a free pass, flying by Andy Fanter.

Sunday's sunset, with a duck blind in the middle, was a fitting tribute on the last day of the 2011-12 duck seasons.

The sunset was even prettier than in the morning. It was a great tribute to a great season.