Borer hoped to create a pond near his duck cabin on the Copper River Delta that would have mallards decoying in like this. Photo by Dick Shellhorn

Duck hunters are known to go to great lengths to bag their wary prey. 

Probably the most infamous episode on the Copper River Delta of this passionate pursuit occurred near a cabin that at one time belonged to longtime Cordova banker Dick Borer. 

In fact, a bronze “First Bank of Cordova” plaque was mounted on a wall near the cabin’s front door. 

Following the eight-foot Delta uplift caused by the 1964 Good Friday earthquake ponds had drained and vanished, including one near his cabin at Glacier Slough.   

According to longtime Cordova fisherman and hunter Jim Webber, Borer had read an article somewhere about using dynamite to create ponds down South on the plains. Basically, it involved digging a deep trench, filling it with explosives, and setting it off. 

In theory, the sides of trench would sluff inward as water filled the hole, creating a nice pond right by his cabin. Always thinking big, Borer decided 40 cases should do the trick. 


However, he quickly discovered it was impossible to dig in the marsh without it rapidly filling up with water. 

So, the dynamite was stored under a tarp near the proposed pond location, until a plan could be developed to resolve this dilemma.   

How did he get the dynamite down there? Originally the story was via airboat. Can you imagine roaring along in an airboat with a boatload of dynamite in the bow?   

Just by accident I was shooting the breeze with renowned local pilot Terry Kennedy and told him this story. He grinned and gave me the inside scoop.


“I had just started flying for Cordova Air, and Wayne Smith (owner and manager at that time) said he had a job for me. Namely to fly this stack of dynamite down to Borer’s cabin,” Kennedy said. 

“You know Wayne,” said Kennedy with a wry grin. “He added you might want to make a soft landing.  Some of the cases seem to be leaking a bit.” 

I assumed Kennedy was flying in a Super Cub with fat tires, famous for short landings on bouncy terrain.  

But not so. 

“I landed in a Cessna 180 on wheels right near the cabin, and it took a couple trips,” Kennedy said. 

Of course, the story continues, under promised sworn secrecy. The saying “boys will be boys” surely applies to duck hunters and pilots.  

Here’s a first- hand account, from hunters X and Y: 

Passenger Y was flying in the back seat of pilot X’s Super Cub on wheels. 

They landed several hundred yards away from the stack of dynamite, which they had spotted from the air. It had been there for a number of years. 

X thought it would be a great prank on Borer to set it off. According to Y, X got out his rifle and said something like “watch this.” Nothing happened on the first shot. The explosion from the second shot knocked them both to the ground.  

They stood up to see a plume of smoke rising in the sky. Mud started landing on them and their plane.  

Back then there was so little brush they could see the tail of the Alaska Airlines jet taxiing on the Mile 13 runway. 

“We wiped it off as best we could and got out of there,” said Y. 

“We were sure the FAA was going to report it,” said Y. “We flew to a nearby island with a clear stream, landed and washed all the mud off the plane before flying back to town.” 

Kennedy told me that the explosion broke all the windows in the cabin, shattered anything glass, and moved it on its pilings. 

The pond? 

Kennedy said the blast made a hole 50 feet deep. 


Ducks are categorized as dabblers or divers. Dabblers feed by bobbing their rear ends up and sticking their heads under the water, barely reaching a foot down.   

Most diving ducks can go six to 10 feet under the water, although mergansers can make it to 50 feet down. 

It is unlikely that Borer was thinking of a nice fishy-flavored merganser roasted to perfection when he hatched the “create a pond” scheme. 

With deep laughs among Cordova’s duck hunters, it can safely be stated that they have done a lot of blasting away in the years since, but not with dynamite. 

And I have never seen merganser decoys advertised in Mack’s Prairie Wings or Cabela’s waterfowl catalogs.