WHEN IT COMES to fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors, I have a million memories; probably more. I’ve had wonderful memories of the outdoors etched in my mind for decades and some of those moments, small as they may have been, have never left.

I remember specifically my first trout caught in Plum Creek; every detail of that magical moment with my dad when he took his noon hour to take me there to try and catch a brook trout. I remember the first time I attempted a solo overnight “camping” trip. I was 6 and my tent was a wool army blanket strung across a length of clothesline tied to two huge trees about 4 feet away from the northwest living room window of our house. I made it all the way ’til maybe 11 p.m., before rampaging bears, lions and tigers drove me inside to my bunk bed.

I remember many of my early escapades and accomplishments in the outdoors, although I must admit there were more escapades than accomplishments. One accomplishment I do remember is how much I enjoyed helping my mother pluck, wax and otherwise get ducks my dad shot ready for the table.

At an early age, I soaked up as much knowledge as I could from her about cooking, not just wild game and fish, though the most enjoyable involved the preparation of the meat we brought home.

My mother was as good a cook as you’d find at any five-star restaurant and the best baker of homemade bread, mayonnaise chocolate cake and other things as anyone I’ve ever known. Off on my own when it came to cooking, I immediately took a hankering to trying out new things when it came to wild game and fish.

I definitely leaned on what I learned from my mother to a great degree, but with lessons from trial and error, along with the occasional advice and additions of knowledge from friends who knew a thing or two more about cooking than I did, I expanded my repertoire of cooking methods and recipes to what they are today.

Many of my best efforts have come from doing all the cooking of dinners at my North Dakota duck camp for more than 20 years. Truthfully, as much as the hunting and shooting of ducks gets me excited, preparing our evening meals — breakfast and lunch everyone is on their own — gives me as much pleasure as anything else I do on my annual trip to the prairie country.

I have done everything from the simplest of meals to some that were aided and abetted by lots of creative thinking or a good cookbook. I also have learned from some of the boys at camp who have prepared some pretty excellent things along the way, such as Tommy John’s bacon-wrapped dove breasts, my son’s introduction of grilled duck balls and Dr. Greg’s simple, but delicious, asparagus grilled with plenty of black pepper, garlic and olive oil.

Over the years, I have used many recipes, either those conjured up in my own mind or quite loosely prepared from cookbook recipes, the type often deviated from with what I considered alternative touches of good taste.

Most have been fairly simple; some a bit more complicated. Maybe the simplest I’ve ever tried was one I used for the first time last year at duck camp. It turned out to be one of the most raved-about duck dinners I have ever prepared for the guys. It was one of those so simple, “I couldn’t even think of a modification from the original” recipe I found somewhere along the line.

All I did was pile a bunch of salt-and-peppered duck breasts in a slow cooker, added a couple big cans of sauerkraut mixed in with a couple of large onions, sliced, followed by a bottle of good beer poured over the top. Cooked on low for eight hours it turned out to be fantastic, at least in the opinion of several hungry duck hunters at the end of the day.

Another simple, but also raved-about duck dinner I’ve done for the guys was taken from a recipe in the “Ducks Unlimited Wild Feasts” cookbook I’ve used for years. To prepare it I simply cook up wild rice, how much depending on how many guys I’ve got at duck camp, but by the recipe, 11⁄2 cups cooked, mixed with two cans of cream of celery soup, a cup of sliced, fresh mushrooms — I always go top-heavy with them — a cup of chicken broth, two cups of cooked and cubed duck sprinkled with pepper, gravy I make from skimmings of previously browned duck breasts and a big can of french-fried onions spread across the top.

Remember, as I do with most recipes, I generously alter amounts of everything and once in a while throw in another spice or maybe another vegetable, all depending on the tastes and number of hunters I’m feeding. Oh and by the way, once you put all the makings together, simply bake at 325 degrees for an hour or a little more. My guys love it.

One more favorite from duck camp to try is this one that comes from “Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen” cookbook, she of Duck Dynasty fame. It’s called Jay’s Duck Wraps. 

To prepare it you take any number of duck breasts you need. You make an incision in each breast almost all the way through then, stuff each with cream cheese and one slice of jalapeno, either fresh or from a jar; secure with toothpicks; coat each breast with a favorite rub, her recipe calls of course for Duck Commander seasoning rub; wrap with a slice of bacon and grill until the bacon is crisp and the cream cheese starts to ooze out. Then, drizzle with honey and grill for another minute or two. This is kind of an expanded version of my duck balls and it is delicious.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that almost any meat recipe will work for ducks. Almost any duck recipe will work for any other meat, so these favorites of mine, rest assured, can be made with beef or chicken or whatever if you are not a wild game lover.

The main thing for me at least is that each of these recipes brings back a flood of good memories from duck camp. What more could you ask for?