If done right, owning a duck club is an all-year job and the guys at the Lone Oak Duck Club do it right. That hot sweaty work all summer starts to pay off and by November the place is a duck cafeteria.
There’s a long season ahead, but first… the traditional night-before-opening-day bonfire.
The Lone Oak Duck Club is an L-shaped tract of land in Bates County, Missouri. As the duck flies it’s roughly three miles northwest of the Four Rivers Waterfowl Management area. It was founded in 1979. I know because I was one of the founders.
“Duck Club” sounds like a fancy place where rich guys hunt. This duck club is nothing like that. Our “club house” used to be an ancient trailer with mushrooms growing out of the damp carpet. We shared the place with mice and the occasional blacksnake. We kidded ourselves into thinking we managed the water level but the beavers and Mother Nature had the last say on everything. Later we built a little five-bedroom cabin with two johns. It still wasn’t fancy but it was a definite upgrade from the leaky old trailer.
Actually one guy who knew what he was doing built it and the rest of us tried to stay out of his way.
Like all duck hunting places we had good seasons and not-so-good seasons. Thankfully, this past summer the food at Four Rivers was destroyed by high water so the ducks can’t sit on the refuge all day, cashing their welfare checks for flooded corn and smartweed. They have to get out and fly around like normal ducks, so this season is showing some promise. I bugged out a couple of years ago when the hard part of hunting started out-weighing the fun part. So I’m not there to enjoy it in person now, but I’m keeping up with the action thanks to Jay Lang and his son Chuck’s photography.
Now if they’d just overnight me a big, tasty mallard…
Zoey, Jay’s golden retriever pup is learning that sometimes, in the real world, all retrieves aren’t as easy as retrieving a training dummy in the back yard. But it looks like she’s doing an excellent job.