Duck Tours in Wisconsin Dells

A “duck” is a vehicle that is both a car and a boat. Originally designed for World War II (and given the name DUKW), a duck can drive right off the edge of a road and float into water. While certainly not the only way to see the famous Wisconsin Dells on water and on land, riding in a duck is one of the more unique experiences in Wisconsin.

Of course, there are other places in America to ride one of these unique amphibious army vehicles. Boston, for example, offers similar tours around town and into the Charles River. In the Dells, however, seeing the Wisconsin River in a duck is a must – the ride is bumpy, the “splashdowns” (going from land to water) are intense, but it is a unique enough experience to recommend to anybody visiting this part of Wisconsin.

Duck tours involve a lot of interesting sights; not just the Dells themselves. There are many wooded paths throughout the area that are reserved for these tours only. So visitors can see things on a duck that they just can’t see anywhere else. Depend-ing on the tour company, the ducks may enter surprisingly quiet and secluded sections of wilderness only a few short miles away from the bustling center of commerce. They twist and turn through the woods, making their way to the river. When they splashdown, passengers may get a bit wet. From there, they float around the river, eventually making their way back to land. For these tours, ducks carry about 20 passengers each. The entire tour lasts about an hour, and run only during the warm tourist season.

There are two major companies currently offering duck tours in Wisconsin Dells, both competing with each other for your business:

Original Wisconsin Ducks

The Original Wisconsin Ducks has been giving tours of the dells and Wisconsin River for about 60 years. They have the largest fleet of Ducks in the United States – they own about 1/3 of the approximately 300 operational Ducks in the nation. The tour is about 8 miles through the city, the wilderness, and the Wisconsin River. Some of the trails are exclusive to the Original Wisconsin Ducks. This tour operates solely on the Lower Dells portion of the river (south of the dam), and explores many off-road places throughout the journey.

Despite the name, there is nothing inherently “original” about these Ducks. They came from the same World War II mold that the other ducks did, across the United States. They are “original” in that the Ducks were originally used for combat during the war, and have since been refurbished (Ducks are no longer manufactured, and haven’t been since the 1950s). Nevertheless, this is one fantastic tour that should not be missed.

Dells Army Ducks

The Dells Army Ducks is one of several tours offered by Dells Glacial Park Tours. These ducks, which traverse the Lower Dells and Lake Delton, see more of Lake Delton, and more of residential and commercial areas. The Dells Army Ducks offers a small fleet and a rather intimate experience. This tour is ideal for those interested in seeing the more populated areas of Wisconsin Dells; drive around the city streets on a very unique aquatic vehicle.

In addition to the Ducks, the Dells Glacial Park Tours offers a more standard boat tour, the Mark Twain Upper Dells Tour. The tour lasts about an hour on its 15-mile journey. There are no stops on this tour; but the boat pulls up close to many of the famous landmarks while you learn about the history of the Dells. The tour has regular departures during the warm months.

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Exploring the Possibility of Raising Ducks

We were asked a question once if it is feasible to venture in producing salted eggs for marketing in our town. We said that if the people here had acquired a taste for it as Manila people do and he could sell it at fifteen pesos a piece, it may turn out right. Ducks are one of the hardiest fowls. They could slurp muddy water without getting sick. They could eat what chickens do not. They thrive even when cold and could be self supporting.

When asked how many heads would be his initial flock, he said ten. The conversation almost ended then and there. We were not sure if the chap is serious or not. Ten ducks, when pronounced as one word, means a kick in the ass. However, we sensed that he was serious so we started computing.

A kilo of feed fit for ducks costs eighteen pesos a kilo. A kilo may feed a duck for five days. Since prolific ducks lay one egg a day, ten times fifteen will gross one hundred fifty pesos. Fewer eighteen pesos feed, that will be a net of one hundred thirty two pesos in five days. Right? Take away the thirty two pesos for care and miscellaneous that means salt coloring, fuel and labor act, he will have one hundred pesos after total expenses. Anyway the thirty two pesos will still go to him. Increase the number of ducks and profit will increase directly proportional to the number of the increase.

When asked what type of duck he is going to raise, he answered’ the “moscovies” pointing at a passing muscovy duck. Moscovies are easy to raise, he said. They practically need no care. They need no great deal of water and they can be self supporting, biting off tender banana shoots. We pointed out that moscovies, like any other ducks, get grimy and scruffy without available water. If the wings are not clipped, they fly off and get lost. When asked what breed would be ideal, we answered, the Pateros duck.

The Pateros duck, especially the khaki Campbell subspecies, are flightless, fast growing, early maturing and prolific egg layers. They are raised for balut and salted egg production. They look like wild ducks but cannot fly. They molt late, have short molting seasons and thrive on a diet of snails or kohol. They can subsist on chicken or hog feed here. They always come home to roost at night and lay eggs on the ground where they sleep. They only care they need is to give them enough feed, plenty of water to drink and bathe and to keep them from straying.

Since they need some attention the would-be duck raiser said he will think about it. Nothing in life is for free. One has to work for it. If duck raising is as easy, then everybody would raise ducks and nobody will buy.

Duck Hunting Games

One of the fondest memories of my childhood is playing Duck Hunt on the original Nintendo 8 bit system when I used to be a kid way back in the 1980s! My friends and I use to sit around and play duck hunting games and shoot thousands of ducks. We really had a ton of fun with a small gray plastic light gun that you would point at the screen. This toy gun had a built in laser for shooting ducks on our console TV.

Nintendo games and video games in general have really developed into something spectacular since first being introduced in the 1970s. The first system our family got was an Atari and I thought that was cool back then. Then we got the Nintendo and were blown away by duck hunting games and Super Mario Brothers.

I am amazed by the videos games that are around today. I see graphics that are nearly lifelike, with absolutely incredible 3D perspectives and scenes. The most popular games in this area are first person shooter games. However, these types of games have a lot more action and violence than the old school duck hunting games I grew up with.

I walked into a local video arcade last week and was shocked to see how expensive it is to play a video game for only a few minutes. These games are very complicated and I am sure they must cost several thousand dollars. Modern day video arcade games make duck hunting games and other types of games I grew up with look completely ancient.

I have not found a video arcade in the area that still has duck hunting games like they use to have back in the 1990s. Most arcades would probably go out of business by having games like that with such primitive graphics. People today want to play the ultra violent first person shooter games where there is a lot of blood and gore.

All video games are so addictive and essentially a big waste of time. The problem is, once you start playing, it is hard to quit. In fact, when I was a child, I even rode my bike about 4 miles to the largest video arcade in the city, just to go play games for few hours.

It would really be nice to find a casual and laid back video arcade in the area with the kind of classic and low key video games that I grew up with. Playing silly duck hunting games on Nintendo, or even combat on Atari, was fun for hours when I was young.