I’ve only seen a couple ducks for sale at the grocers’. I’m not even sure if the store was local or even in the west. I have always come by ducks the all natural way. That is we hunt them, then we shoot them. I’m not a duck biologist and only about par as a duck hunter; but I know enough about ducks and their history, to rank them as one of the great conservation efforts by Sportsmen and their retail tax dollars affixed to the sale of sporting goods tackle, specifically firearms and ammunition.
Conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl are the watch dogs of waterfowl along with our Federal Wildlife and State Game agency’s. Farmers with farming methods leave feed in the migration flyway and who keep the water habitats healthy on their lands are huge contributors to the existence of the duck.
Market hunting took a large toll on Ducks much like it did on many species, as we rolled across and over everything in this country as we “civilized” it, giving no thought to the future other than what is immediately in it for me.
Duck hunting was a big fall activity around our house growing up. I stopped hunting ducks in the late 80’s when Sportsmen were required to use steel shot. Steel shot in the early days was likely responsible for more wasted ducks as the lead shot they ingested while feeding. Steel shot lacked the weight and energy to penetrate into a duck like lead. Again, manufactures of sporting goods, in this case shot shells, stepped up and have over time invented non-toxic shot that while a bit on the expensive side as compared to lead, is every bit as lethal. Sportsmen too are becoming more educated about shot zones and the ability and disability of steel shot. I’ve recently returned to hunting ducks for several reasons. One being to afford my son another outdoor life experience.
Enough politics lets smoke a duck:
First you need to find a duck. If it has to be store bought this recipe will work.
If you desire to hunt a duck, find a good mentor and have them help you with the process. They will make sure you have the proper licenses and equipment. Or find a duck hunter willing to give you a few, most will.
Once you have the duck then it is necessary that you prepare it for the table. Plucking it is a bit time consuming but in a funny kind of way, rewarding.
In this photo I am plucking without the use of scalding. When scalding; warm some water to 117 degrees and add a teaspoon of dish soap, stir. Then bath the duck in the water rubbing the feathers towards the ducks head in order for the water to penetrate the feathers and protective oils. The duck becomes much easier to pluck and the moisture keeps the feathers from floating all over the place as you pluck. I will do this method if I have several ducks. It is best done before you remove the entrails or “vent” the duck to keep the soapy solution out of the inside of the duck. I like to pluck duck in late October when they are fat and fully feathered out. Feathers not fully grown are called “pin” feathers. They should have been called “pain” feathers because they are that to remove and early season birds usually have plenty of them. Once you have the duck plucked you will notice some small hairs protruding from the skin. These can be removed with fire. In a metal bucket, wad up a bit of newspaper and light it. While wearing leather heat protective gloves lower the duck body while holding onto the head into the flame and out again in one fluid motion. If the hairs remain, do it again. This is called singeing. You can also do this over the burner of your Camp Chef stove. I just was taught by my father to do it in a bucket long before Camp Chef.
I then make a brine using 8 cups of water
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup kosher or sea salt
2 tblsp Garlic salt
I soak the ducks in this brine breast down in a large bowl for 48 hours. I rotate the duck onto its back for about three total hours during this time. This time of year I can keep them in my garage covered and they stay below 41 degrees. If you don’t have this option use the fridge or a cooler with ice.
I rinse the ducks and pat them dry then pop them into my PRE HEATED smoke vault with apple chips at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I then drop the heat to 200 for two hours.
There you have it smoke cooked duck. Eat it warm or refrigerate it for later.
Repeat the process it is good for you!