Sometimes, the food is the best part of a duck hunt.
Around here, our duck season is hit or miss. Mostly miss. Because of that, our duck hunts are mostly a social affair, a time to hang out with buddies, shoot the breeze, and enjoy a morning afield. A big part of that enjoyment is a good duck-blind breakfast.
Yea, we could stop and get fast food on the way in, or make cold sandwiches at home and bring them with us, but a hot breakfast cooked in the blind is way better than either of those options.
Over the years, we have picked up a few tips that help streamline things when it comes to cooking in the confined spaces of a boat or duck blind.
Duck blinds are often flammable, couple that with an open flame, confined areas, excited hunters and hungry dogs, and care needs to be taken to keep a fine morning from turning into a disaster. Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times. It's better to ruin a morning's breakfast than to watch the hard work of a blind build go up in flames.
Make sure your cooking equipment is stable, a wayward bump by dog or hunter happens fairly often and can topple a precariously placed stove. Take a few minutes to make sure everything is solid and level before you start cooking.
2.Prep at Home
Even on a slow day, time and table space are pretty limited in the blind. Do as much prep work as possible at home. Cooking ham? Cut it up into biscuit-sized pieces before you leave the house. Adding peppers or onions to your breakfast? DIce them before you leave the house and store them in zip-style bags.
If you plan to cook scrambled eggs, go ahead and crack and scramble them into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Not only will it save time in the blind, a plastic container is a lot easier to transport to and from the blind than a dozen or more raw eggs in thin styrofoam or cardboard cartons.
3. Use Cast Iron
Duck blinds and boats can make for a rough and tumble kitchen. A well-seasoned cast iron pan will stand up to the beating and banging that goes on way better than a thin non-stick skillet.
Cast iron also heats more evenly than thinner cookware. A definite plus when heating over the small gas flame of a camp stove. Cooking bacon or sausage in the skillet first provides plenty of oil for cooking the eggs.
Clean up is as simple as pouring in a bit of clean water after the cooking is finished, giving the pan a good scrape with a spatula, then a quick wipe with paper towels or a rag.
4. Find a Biscuit Cooker
Biscuits can be tough when your only heat source is a gas flame. Keep your eyes open at yard sales and auction sites for an old hinged fish poaching pan. They make for a very serviceable oven when heated on a camp stove.
Use plenty of butter and fill the cooker with canned biscuits. Heat slowly over a low flame, flipping the pan often. Will your biscuits be golden brown and flaky every time? Nah, more often than not a flight of ducks or geese will show up mid-cook and one side will end up dark or even black. Will they still be good filled with sausage, ham, or bacon and a big spoonful of eggs, you betcha.
Besides biscuits, try filling the well-buttered pan with a few honey buns. They make for a fine end to a hunting breakfast. Don't have a biscuit cooker? Try frying a few honey buns in a skillet full of bacon grease. You won't be sorry.
5. Share With the Dog
Waterfowl dogs work hard. Yea, you might not feed them people food at home, but a bite of bacon or biscuit (or even a full plate) will hit the spot on a cold morning duck hunt. Besides, who can resist the pleading eyes of a lab peering at you over a steaming plate of breakfast?