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The Mississippi Flyway begins in the breeding grounds of the Prairie Pothole Region, which comprises Minnesota, the Dakotas, northern Montana and the southern parts of the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It’s flat, and the last glaciers scraped out millions of puddles; it looks like Swiss cheese from the air. They call the Prairie Pothole Region the “Duck Factory” of North America. When it turns cold, the ducks start to fly south. They start in Canada, and in flight they start to funnel. The funnels are the Mississippi River in the U.S. and Mackenzie River in Canada, and they follow them: That’s the Mississippi Flyway.

Nationally, Missouri is known as a great place for turkey, a good deer place and certainly one of the greatest places for duck. In central and northern Missouri, we hunt in flooded cornfields, and down near the Bootheel, people hunt in rice fields. St. Louis has a duck-hunting tradition that’s extraordinary. It’s big in Kansas City along the Missouri River, too. We have three distinct and very, very successful areas in the state. And it’s very convenient: Some of the clubs in St. Charles County are 25 minutes from downtown Clayton. You can literally go from your desk to a duck blind in 30 minutes. There aren’t many places where urban and rural are that close together, but we’re blessed here. Our club, Wingshoot Farms, has nine guys and about 200 acres in Lincoln County. We’ve been together since 2000, one year after my first hunt. I went from making fun of my hunting buddies to becoming one of them in about 45 minutes. We have a nice setup, just like many of the other hundreds of clubs in St. Charles and Lincoln counties. You pull up and hit the button, the garage door opens and your ATV’s parked there. Everyone has a locker: Gear up and head out to the blinds. We’ve got nine blinds and really hunt five of them on two farms, so it’s spread out. We’re very spoiled. We show up at the blind, and it’s ready, and the decoys are out. (A blind is anything that you stand in, under or behind.) You want to blend in with your surroundings. If I’m standing in a cornfield, a bird can see me from 100 acres away, so you just want to break up the human outline. If you’re in the woods, hunters might build a blind above the water and then cover it with sticks, leaves, things like that. For 99 percent of the St. Charles


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October 2016 Feast Magazine  

Inspired by our love of nature, this issue of Feast is dedicated to the joys of fall in the Midwest. Crack open a cold one, find a place to...