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46 responses to “Eating Everything But the Quack”

  1. Jon

    Hank – I admire your skill in squeezing every bit out of your game. Very admirable. Ducks are my absolute favorite, but I gave up self plucking years ago and now spend the 3 bucks per bird to have them plucked. I know, lazy. We had a great opening weekend that was one for the memory books. Check it out.

  2. Josh

    Great post! I’d asked NorCalCazadora if you were going to post on what you do with duck legs, but I got a lot more out of this whole post.
    I will be grossing out family and friends for many months… and hopefully winning over some to good eatin’!

    By the way, do you have any good recipes for spoonies that don’t involve a brick? Our opener didn’t go as well as your’s…

  3. NorCal Cazadora

    Oh, Boyfriend, you shorted me! I actually hit five ducks. But unfortunately, one landed in a place where our guide said it was unsafe to retrieve it. Trivial? Not when you’re as lame a shot as I am! I hate tithing the coyotes, but there was nothing I could do.

    I’ll be sending some folks over here to check out the method to your madness – they’ve all been asking about it.


  4. Blessed

    I’m getting better about using all of whatever we kill – your blog is part of my inspiration!


  5. sportingdays

    Love this line “Aloof and beautiful pintails glided overhead like austere supermodels. Gadwall wheeled and circled, looking for a meal; they are the homely hobbits of the duck world.” and this line “I love gadwall, too, because they have an unusual, earthy taste. Gadwall are an eater’s duck, not for beginners.”

    The man can cook — and write. We should all have friends like “Bob.”

    I am three days away from my first duck hunt of the season. Can’t wait.

  6. Kindred spirit

    Hank, what do you think about freezing whole plucked birds in water? My off-brand vacuum sealer doesn’t have the oomph to handle the angles and caverns of a whole bird.
    Get post, I can’t wait to see the look on my wife’s face when I strain out the webbed feet from the stock.

  7. Garrett

    Sounds like a great hunt! I am intrigued by what deviled duck hearts are. =)

  8. adele

    There are hunters who just cut out the breasts on duck? I feel like I should mourn all the lost opportunities for duck confit and pate.

    Kudos to you for using everything but the quack. 🙂

  9. elgin

    It looks like a lot of work to clean all those ducks!

    Check out this ptarmigan

  10. Kevin

    Hank! I saw duck fat for the first time! Unfortunately it was in one of your photos!

    I spoke with a wildlife biologist friend a couple days ago about the difference in quality of meat product as their feed changes during annual migration. He confirmed that what you and I are eating would be very different product, based on a number of weeks of highly different diet. If I could ship you some [which I can’t – trust me, I’ve tried this recently], I’d get you to do some R&D. Keep up the good work.

  11. Sam Sotiropoulos

    Hank! I am green with envy!!! Thanks for the great narrative, and deviled duck hearts? YUM!

  12. LaTexan

    I’m new at wild game but I have gone over to Duck Dressing .We cook it just like a Chicken Hen using the stock to make the Dressing while carefully using some of the rendered fat for flavor. Duck meat was fine after being boiled a few hours and roasted in pan with the dressing

  13. Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    I love – just love – this post and its philosophy of wasting nothing. Thank you


  14. Mike T.

    I saw the article in the paper, I’ve been doing this for 35 years and watched my elders do before me. Waste nothing ! Liver pate’ Mmm

    One way to get kids & non-game people to eat duck pheasent, quail etc: Is brown pieces in olive oil and slow cook them in cream of mushroom soup. And some rice for the extra gravy. I put four duck halves in my woodstove one rainy december day, with a link of Italian sausage in each ribcage and the smoke brought people to the door and the phone started ringing. (i’m drooling) Great Blog! There are a lot of hunters that think like you! I have never cut a breast off of a duck(what a waste). I won’t get into fish here but my family had a retail fish market from 1926-1976. I ate swordfish like other kids ate burgers. Mmmm — Mike T.

  15. K.B.

    More info on the plucking and gutting, please. Photos are always appreciated. Raising my own, and will need to dispose of “extra” drakes.

  16. Dave

    Stumbled on this post while looking at duck recipes. Great stuff. I’m a hardcore duck/goose hunter. Between myself and my two sons, we take many birds home during the course of a season (40-50 geese, slightly lower # of ducks) For the sake of time, we always breast them out. Now that I’ve seen this post, I’ve hung 6 pheasants in the garage for 3 days and am thinking about plucking ducks. Question: Do you really pluck all your birds by hand? There’s got to be a better way. I can’t imagine plucking 6 Canada Geese during a single would take hours! I”m wondering if a picking machine makes sense. Thoughts?

  17. Phil

    Came home with 13 ducks from this weekend hunting next to Fazio. They’re being cleaned at Broadway, but I’ll try to render some fat and save it for making confit or tortillas. This a a great post and inspirational, maybe I’ll try plucking and gutting after the next hunt.

  18. Hank Shaw, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook: Food Blogger Spotlight

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  19. HuntingHarold

    WOW! I have finally found someone who thinks and enjoys the bounty as I. I have been floundering with the same sort of stuff. Do you hang your duck prior to cleaning when it is cold. The opener was GREAT. What about easy as duck soup?? You have peaked my interest. You mention stock and such… I will go back and re read you stuff I just returned for a 14 bird 1 speck opening out of willows.


  20. Dave

    Well, Hank, after reading your posts and mostly lurking here for a year I’ve taken action. I finally broke down and ordered a plucking kit. The plucker requires some assembly, but promises to pluck ducks in 1.5-2 minutes. Geese will take a bit longer. After many years of skinning and breasting ducks and geese, I’m very anxious to try many more recipes for whole birds, prepared with skin intact! Now all I have to do is manage the feathers.

  21. Mike B

    Thanks for this interesting post Hank. I had no idea you can use so many things from a duck. Last December was my first time duck hunting. I think I had just as much fun cooking the birds as I did hunting them.

    I wish I had read this post sooner, but I’ll save it for next season. I’m definitely telling my hunting buddies about it. Thanks again!

  22. Riverwalkerr

    Hank, My tribal Elders would appreciate your sense of value taken reward…..the whole bird………weary we are of folks who shoot tens of thousands of birds and breast them throwing the rest in the cattails or garbage………..We also appreciate your formula for aging………btw duck sausage has been a stapple for first nations folks for centuries……..Only in paintings does Ducks naked tail resemble a nose…….Personally we have been skinning ducks for decades……..and using the whole bird……..Try reposting the update on the article..for the new and up coming hunters; many states are imbracing youth hunting with firearms at age 10…….
    young hen mallard my favorite as they are picky eaters……….
    Resource management with Biblical attitude……..


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  24. David

    And yet another great post to go along with your great book. Glad you wrote both!

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  26. Big Onion

    We’ve been raising ducks for eggs for years, and this past weekend we did our first slaughter for meat. (I’m not sure why it took so long, but after slow roasting one and smoking the other, I don’t think we’ll have any hesitations about it again.)

    Does hanging really apply just to game fowl, and not domestic fowl? We plucked (no paraffin, but let’s say we won’t make that same mistake again) and gutted, then I set them in the fridge for about a day. Would it have been better to slaughter and let them hang for a few days before processing?

  27. Brent

    When using the wax method I still ge the occasional tiney feather left behind. Is it possible I am not doing it right or is this normal? thanks

  28. G-Dawg

    I cleaned up 4 mallards yesterday and failed to refrigerate the feet. My wife “found” them 3-4 hours after I’d put the rest in the fridge. She is of the opinion that they have spoiled and are useless, now. Is it necessary to refrigerate the feet as well as the meat? Thanks.

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  30. Clare

    Fab articles. Seeing as I’m from the UK, I don’t get to hunt but I can lay my hands on the odd pheasant or duck. Got a duck today so am going to give this lot a go. Love the idea of the sausage too. Oh and I just so happen to have some wax lying around. Thanks for some very easy to follow instructions 😀

  31. Jamison Wright

    Hey Hank, what are your recommendations on freezing ducks? I know duck fat can go rancid pretty quick. That fat is the best part, I don’t really like having to skin all my ducks before freezing.

  32. Jamison Wright

    Thanks, Hank. I love your book, I look through it almost every week. Keep up the good work, you’re a true class act.

  33. Anna

    Can you please point me to a demo for prepping the tongue (like the gizzard video, which was excellent!)
    Or step-by-step instructions would be fine.
    There is nothing on the internet for how to do this. Specifically, am I to remove the outer skin? How?
    Thanks so much!

  34. Mike Thorne

    Just finished plucking 2 ducks, after reading your advise. Great help thanks. I didn’t have wax to remove the down so singed it off with a plumbers (yes I am) blow torch. A bit smelly but workers a treat.

  35. Anna

    Thanks Hank! I will stay tuned! (And I’m also curious about what to do with heads. Thus far, I have been discarding them.) 🙁

  36. Anna

    Hi Hank,
    I’m searching your site for duck tongues, but not finding it…Help?! ;-P

  37. Haley the Maker | Whole Roasted Wild Duck

    […] followed Hank Shaw’s advice on his site, Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook as he gave thorough advice from the plucking to gutting and enjoying all parts of the duck but the […]

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