After the Hunt
Waterfowl meat that is properly field dressed and prepared is a flavorful and healthy choice because it’s lean, organic protein that’s locally harvested.
Keeping harvested waterfowl as cool as possible until they can be cleaned is the first step toward a delicious meal. Most hunters use coolers to transport harvested ducks from the field to their home or hunt camp.
You are allowed to clean waterfowl and other migratory game birds in the field or in the boat/blind, but you must keep either a head or a wing attached to each bird you harvest until you get home or until the bird is otherwise used (cooked in the field, for example).
NOTE: The sale (includes trade, barter and exchange) or purchase of waterfowl and other migratory game bird meat or parts is prohibited, but you may give away any of the meat or parts. Learn more at FWS.gov.
There are two common methods for cleaning ducks. The first is to “breast them out,” which is removing the two breast halves from the duck. This is the bulk of the meat found on birds. The other method requires plucking all the birds feathers and removing the entrails so the entire bird can be roasted. Instructions and videos for how to clean ducks are available on the internet.
If you harvest a bird you want a taxidermist to mount, keep it as dry as possible after retrieving it. As soon as possible, place the bird in a sealable plastic bag and store it in a freezer until you can get it to the taxidermist. Some hunters also place the bird headfirst in a pair of pantyhose for added protection to the feathers.
Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl and other websites and online forums have different tips and recipes for cooking waterfowl properly. Duck can easily be overcooked, so make sure you research recipes and cooking times for specific species.