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Rice guy: Backman watches and shoots ducks from his layout boat on one of Minnesota’s popular wild rice lakes

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ON BIG RICE LAKE, NEAR VIRGINIA, Minn. — Morning is just breaking over Big Rice Lake, and John Backman is right where he loves to be. He’s semi-reclined in his layout boat, surrounded by more than 2,000 acres of golden wild rice and three dozen bobbing decoys.

His Winchester is uncased and ready for the morning’s duck hunt, but Backman, 47, is in no hurry to shoot.

“I’m not a first-light guy,” he says. “I’m an incorrigible looker. I love to watch ’em fly.”

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