The Breakfast Club for wayward waterfowlers
Waterfowling season arrives Saturday, and one of my greatest, simple pleasures on a cold morning of waterfowling is a fresh breakfast cooked in the duck blind.
Yep, whether it be in a boat, field, or pit, I love sitting, scanning the skies, and second-guessing decoy placement. Combine that ambience with a good meal, and you have the recipe for outdoor perfection.
The necessary ingredients are very simple. It starts with a one-burner bottle-top stove, a canister of propane, and a solid base. These are easy to light, produce a solid source of heat, and are simple to pack without being bulky. There are several varieties, but the basic Coleman is tough to beat.
The cooking and eating supplies can be problematic, but this is where I raid my lightweight camping supplies for the solution. My Bugaboo Camper cookset is extremely compact (about the size of a volleyball) and includes two pots for heating water, a good-sized frypan, strainer lids, four large insulated mugs, four bowls, four plates, a pot gripper and a stuff sack that doubles as a wash basin.
Grab those two items, toss in a few forks, an old plastic spatula, and that’s enough to cook a grand dinner without having to stop hunting.
For the food, I like a small hard-sided cooler because it will hold up to the abuse most items in a duck boat or the back of a truck experience. Put a carton of eggs in a large zip lock bag, toss in a few pounds of bacon or sausage (or maybe a can or two of Spam), salt, pepper, hot sauce, a block of cheese, and you have the making of a gourmet breakfast.
Keep the eggs in a sealable bag because even if they end up breaking in the carton because somebody drops the cooler in the dark at the boat landing, you just pour out the liquid once your pan is heated. It all tastes the same whether you crack it nicely or accidentally, and after a cold morning watching the sunrise (and seeing the ducks expose the weaknesses in your decoy spread) it tastes better than ever.
A dozen eggs, with all those fixings, will feed a half dozen hunters. Adjust quantities as needed. If there’s room in the cooler, toss in a few packages of brats, a loaf of bread, and you can hunt until 4 p.m. no problem during the early season and until sunset during the peak.
For those who prefer more fiber, and less protein in their morning food plan, toss in some packages of oatmeal and use the pots to boil water.
Another good use for that boiled water is to make fresh coffee using a plastic French press pot. Buy a pound of coffee at the store, put in an equivalent number of scoops for the cups you want (double the amount for me please) and it’s tough to beat.
That portable heater is great for reheating your coffee as needed. If coffee is not your thing, then replace with hot chocolate or tea.
When hardcore hunting, from sunrise to sunset, we also enjoy a late lunch in the field after setting up our field blinds and decoys. Waiting for the evening feeding frenzy in that special field is easier to endure with fresh brats on a portable grill. The little char-broil variety are good, but don’t dump charcoal in a farmer’s field. I prefer a small portable steel propane barbecue, the kind that retails for less than $40.
Brats, bread, mustard, maybe some napkins and a fork for flipping is really all this lunch requires. If you had a successful day before, it’s an even better treat to eat fresh grilled duck that’s been marinating for at least several hours, preferably a day.
This protein-rich diet is actually very invigorating on a hunt and helps avoid the inevitable carb crash after those pastry breakfasts. Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially when it’s as warm like we’re seeing this fall.
Give this business of cooking in the boat, or the pit or the field a try this waterfowling season. It will probably go over so well that it will just become part of the tradition.
There’s something extra special about being able to enjoy a warm, freshly cooked meal, on a cold morning. It breaks the monotony of a slow morning and it becomes a celebratory banquet on good mornings.
Unlike deer hunting and turkey hunting, which are typically solo pursuits, waterfowling is a social and vocal way to hunt. I’m a fan of solitude and silence, but there’s something special about the camaraderie of good friends waterfowling together.
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