Nectar of the Bean

Nectar of the Bean

The 24-hour diner is crowded, even at 4 a.m. I took a corner booth, just inches from the last stool at the counter. There's a hefty, hung-over man on the stool. I smell liquor fumes amidst collective aroma of bacon, eggs and brewing coffee. Not altogether unpleasant.

I don't especially enjoy my eye-level closeness to the drunk's ample posterior, so I compensate by staring straight ahead. Still, I have to cut my eyes to the left now and then.


Can't help it.



No matter. Here's my coffee -- nectar of gods, amongst early risers, lard-butt drunks and on-the-road waterfowlers. No finer coffee in the universe, the brew offered in open-all-night joints that smell like breakfast 24 hours a day.

Coffee is as much a part of a duck hunter's life as guns, blinds and Labradors. I'll never completely trust self-proclaimed waterfowlers who don't drink it. They're likely mere pretenders. Real waterfowlers arise early, hunt all day and stay up at night lying about their shooting and calling abilities. For that, brethren, you gotta have coffee. Period.


My mother introduced me to coffee when I was 4 years old. Of course, that was in 1956, and she was no "enlightened" modernist. I was also allowed to drink from water hoses and eat unrefrigerated eggs. If I drop dead from amebic dysentery, salmonella or caffeine toxicity before finishing this column, it's all Mom's fault.


There's an old saying about life's pleasures that goes, "The worst I ever had was wonderful." Not so with coffee. I've had a few truly awful cupfuls. My buddy, Virgil, once brewed a potful with muddy river water, complete with rocks and twigs stirred up by his bare feet. Cost me a broken tooth. Cletus Monroe's duck-camp coffee won't kill you, which is its one positive attribute. What it will do is cause heartburn a boxcar full of Tums can't cure. It tastes a lot like a paper mill smells.

But oh, the good ones! Andy Arnesen's duck-blind coffee tastes like heaven, and once kept me from freezing to death during a Maryland ice storm. My friend, Robert, who still uses an old-fashioned boiling pot, even at home, makes the best wake-up juice in the Mississippi Delta. Della Boudreaux, an old Cajun angel, served me a wonderful cup of chicory-laced brew from a kettle by her fireplace. Made me not only want to shoot ducks all day, but hand-catch alligators as well.

My grandfather once allowed me to order my own cup and drink it with him in a little north Florida café. I was 9. We were going duck hunting together for the first time, and I felt all grown up. Best dadgum cup of coffee I ever had.

"Huh? What's that? Oh hello, Mildred. Nah, just daydreaming, I reckon. Another cup? You bet."

I'll finish my second and get back on the road. Might not even stop before I get home. Well, maybe once or twice to, shall I say, "outsource" this fine java. That's OK. It'll give me a chance to stretch my legs.

Mildred (I looked on her name badge) asked me earlier if I wanted regular or decaf. I told her regular, as decaf keeps me awake. She looked perplexed.

"You didn't misunderstand, honey," I said. "Decaf makes me lie awake wanting a cup of coffee."

You know, Mildred has a pretty laugh. Think I'll write about it sometime.

Recommended for You

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe is made with ground duck breast fillets and a kick of horseradish. Recipes

Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe

Scott Leysath

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe...

Nourish your pup's noggin for elite performance. Retriever

Gun Dog Nutrition & Intelligence

Tony J. Peterson

Nourish your pup's noggin for elite performance.

Take it from a pro: Less is more. For Dogs

Dog Discipline Tips & Gear

Joe Genzel - June 20, 2019

Take it from a pro: Less is more.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Browning A5 Shotgun -

Browning A5 Shotgun - 'Gun Stories'

Gun Stories host Joe Mantegna talks about the origin and history of the Browning A5 shotgun.

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call. Calls

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during...

Consistency is what pushes today's shotshell makers to constantly improve new waterfowl loads Ammo

11 Best New Shotshell Loads For Waterfowl

Wildfowl Online Staff - August 17, 2017

Consistency is what pushes today's shotshell makers to constantly improve new waterfowl loads

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer.

Of course, it Boats

8 Best Mud Motors for 2016

David Hart - May 26, 2016

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer. Of course,...

See More Stories

More How-To


Crispin Powley has seen some pretty coarse behavior in the duck marsh, but nothing prepared him How-To

Waterfowling Etiquette: Use Your Manners

David Hart - February 18, 2016

Crispin Powley has seen some pretty coarse behavior in the duck marsh, but nothing prepared...


We've all been there. The birds are well in range, we swing through to the goose's beak and smash How-To

Shotgun Patterning Tips for More Kills This Season

Brad Fitzpatrick - November 30, 2015

We've all been there. The birds are well in range, we swing through to the goose's beak and...

It seems almost impossible - 653 clays broken in 3,600 seconds. An hour devoted to nothing but How-To

3 Surefire Tips to Becoming a Better Shotgunner

Brad Fitzpatrick - February 19, 2016

It seems almost impossible - 653 clays broken in 3,600 seconds. An hour devoted to nothing but

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.