The Blue and White Restaurant
Situated along Route 61 in the northern reaches of the Mississippi Delta, the Blue and White Restaurant has been a Tunica County landmark since 1937—it says so right on the coffee cups, which are blue and white, too. Beaver Dam, one of legendary outdoor writer Nash Buckingham’s favorite hunting spots, is located nearby, as are Sardis, Enid, and Arkabutla lakes, and Tunica Cutoff—all well-known fisheries. Eat breakfast here and you’re good for the day, particularly if you add a couple of the homemade donuts to your order. All food is made from scratch, which is not lost on the dozens of waterfowl hunters whose vehicles jam the parking lot on any given weekend during duck season. Lunch, with an optional buffet, gets equal attention.
Gosh Dam Place
Deer River, Minnesota
If you are in northern Minnesota and get a hankering for a hot bowl of chicken wild rice soup, the Gosh Dam Place can make that happen. This is where area duck hunters meet and eat during the season. Hey, where else is one going to find weathered decoys perched on the rafters? Located on Winnie Dam Road near famous Lake Winnibigoshish, in the heart of the Chippewa National Forest, this homey venue even has a sandwich named after the lake—the Big Winnie Burger. If you are really hungry, tackle the succulent barbecue ribs or specialty prime rib, which are also highly regarded. Mark and Molly Greiner run the 65-year-old establishment these days, and they offer a variety of homemade goodies, including pizza. Overnight accommodations are available on-site for visiting sportsmen. Fishermen and snowmobilers rule the roost when the ducks aren’t flying.
The Rice and Duck Capital of the World offers hunters a number of places to dine, and Sportsman’s Drive-In, which first opened during the 1940s, ranks among the most popular. A Ducks Unlimited neon light is proudly displayed in the front window, a sure sign that waterfowlers are welcome. Newcomers are forewarned not to let their buddies order for them, unless they are prepared to handle one of the Sportsman’s double- or triple-cheeseburgers, which weigh in at 22 and 33 ounces, respectively. For more Southern fare, you may want to check out the shrimp or catfish po’ boys. The Wings Over the Prairie Festival brings tens of thousands of visitors to town each fall, and duck season remains this restaurant’s busiest two months of the year. The Sportsman’s seats 60 for lunch and dinner six days a week.
Wool Growers Restaurant
Los Banos, California
Clark Gable and Bing Crosby—both avid duck hunters—were regular visitors to the San Joaquin Valley. And maybe, just maybe, they availed themselves of the Wool Growers Restaurant’s French Basque cooking. That’s not a stretch considering that this restaurant has been serving food for more than 50 years. Pickup trucks and camouflage clothing dominate the weekend scene during waterfowl season. Public hunting areas in and around Merced County reportedly accommodate up to 600 gunners. Food here is served family style in plastic bowls. Diners sit on benches and are elbow to elbow. The lamb stew is among the local favorites. Entrees may include prime rib, chicken, lamb chops, pork chops, and more. There’s seldom a report of anyone leaving one of the Pacific Flyway’s most famous duck-hunting regions hungry.