A view from below. Here's the blind's patriarch, Lynn Berggren, a building contractor from Kearney and a Nebraska Fish and Game commissioner. Berggren and his son, Pat, used their home-building talents to making this blind a couple years ago just off the duck-rich Platte River.
The structure is basically a poured concrete foundation. Only instead of a house above it, this bunker is covered with soil, corn stalks and narrow openings to shoot through. Shooters wait below the openings in repurposed office chairs, periodically scanning the skies for incoming ducks.
Here, Berggren holds court, entertaining visitors while waiting for the next flight of mallards to arrive.
The blind is sunk in a Nebraska corn field, where an irrigation pump runs to keep a pond of water in front of the blind refreshed and ice-free. On the stormy day I hunted here, this was some of the only open water along the Platte River.
Pat Berggren hails a flock of ducks, bracing against the spitting snow and the stiff north wind.
The calling pays off. Lynn Berggren shows off a fat winter mallard that dropped into the decoys.
The day I hunted with Berggren, most of the action was on mallards and green-winged teal. A flock of pintails locked up and dropped into the dekes, but we were too late getting our guns up.
After intense early activity, Pat Berggren scans skies for smaller flocks.
The wind is getting colder.
Finally, Berggren checks in on his phone with buddies hunting downstream on the river. Everybody is reporting slow action.
Must be time for an early lunch. Lynn Berggren distributes corn bread to go with his chicken soup. This follows a duck-hunters' breakfast of an egg-and-bacon sandwich. Hot coffee and radiant heaters keep the chill off the hunters. Wait… is that a television along the wall?
Yep. It's a TV. The Berggrens have planted a satellite dish in the middle of the corn field and piped the signal into the duck blind. We watched Ducks Unlimited TV for a portion of our duck hunt. On most Saturdays in the fall, you can bet the Cornhuskers game is on this TV.
Decoys are tucked into every corner of the blind.
Waterfowl calls are hung from every lanyard.
And green heads and orange legs are the colors of the season.
As we are snapping photos of ducks, the skies darken with birds finally heading out to feed after the storm breaks momentarily.
Pat and his Lab, Chase (or Mallard. Or SOB. The dog's name depends on how the he behaves at any given moment) wade into the decoys to pick up another brace of greenheads.
The set-up is pretty productive. The line of standing corn attracts feeding ducks, which then spot the decoys and come cycloning into the spread.
Hunting is so good that back in the blind we hunters start to keep track of limits.
I'm shooting Remington's new VersaMax shotgun, and even in the grubby weather it cycled flawlessly.
Too soon, we have our daily limits. We reluctantly emerge from the submerged blind into the snowbound landscape.
We gather gear, ducks and guns and give our farewells and our thanks to the Berggrens for sharing a morning of duck-hunting paradise.
It has electricity, a kitchen, even satellite TV. This Nebraska duck bunker will make your layout blind seem downright primitive.