There was a time when proprietors of the Turkey Roost kept live turkeys in a pen in the front of the building. No more. This place is, however, still painted pink “so you can see it,” according to local lore. In celebrating its 55th anniversary this year, Turkey Roost waitresses remain attired in neat white uniforms. The region’s duck hunters frequent Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area right up the road. And then they talk turkey. Turkey Roost more than lives up to its name by offering a full turkey dinner every day. If that sounds like too much to handle, you may want to try the half turkey plate, baby turkey plate, special turkey plate, turkey pot pie, hot turkey sandwich, cold turkey sandwich, turkey salad sandwich, club turkey sandwich . . . you get the idea. Don’t forget the strawberry shortcake for desert. And if you’re looking for a morning meal, order the Prospector’s Breakfast—there’s no turkey involved, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Forest City Diner
Forest City, Missouri
This is a throwback to simpler times—the booths, chrome tables, and stools likely having been around long before the words “fast food” became a part of the nation’s vocabulary. Folks are up bright and early in tiny Forest City, which shares the neighborhood with the sprawling Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge and Bob Brown and Nodaway Valley conservation areas. Owner Andrea Sisk starts preparing for the hunter onslaught before 4 a.m. during duck season. Plenty of scattergunners converge on this tradition-rich region every year—both public-ground hunters and those visiting private clubs. This is no place for those looking to tighten up their belt a notch. The diner offers homemade everything, including pan-fried chicken prepared in black iron skillets, French fries, and a variety of sinful pies. Breakfast is served until 10:30 a.m. at this landmark eatery, which has been hosting hunters for more than 50 years.
Midway Duck Inn
Spring Bay, Illinois
The sign outside the front door makes two rules extremely clear: No guns or dogs allowed inside. Why, of course not. The Midway Duck Inn, located at the corner of Route 26 and Brickton Road, is well beyond such shenanigans. Duck hunters are another story, and they show up regularly for lunch and dinner. Steaming bowls of chili and juicy cheeseburgers are among the favored midday selections. Breakfast is not available, but if you arrive around noon on weekends, you’re bound to run into plenty of fellow Mossy Oak and Realtree fans. Three public waterfowl hunting areas—Woodford, Marshall, and Sparland—are right up the road, so ducks mean business. While inside, check out the eclectic mix of vintage duck hunting photographs and wildlife art.
Sandy’s Goose Shot
They are proud of their goose hunting heritage in Waupun, and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than the massive mural on the front of Sandy’s Goose Shot Bar and Grill. Those driving down West Main Street can’t miss the hunter-in-the-marsh scene, complete with Canada geese. This is a reflection of nearby Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. More than 400,000 people visit the marsh each year, including hunters who often flock to Sandy’s Goose Shot to dine. Breakfast is served Sunday mornings only, and customers have their pick of the Mama Goose Special, Papa Goose Special, or the Farm Goose Special (eggs, plus), and youngsters under 10 can go with the Gosling Special. Depending on the day, you will find a diverse menu ranging from liver and onions or chicken and dumplings to pizza, Mexican fare, or tasty prime rib.