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Cooking Duck is Easier Than Harvesting Them!

By Jonathan Bowman

Photos by Jonathan Bowman

The cost to purchase a duck at a grocery store or online ranges from $20 to $100.

I don’t even have a clue how much a fine dining restaurant would charge for a wild-shot wood duck. I’d be willing to bet the dish would be at least $50 for half a duck.

That being said, I spent this past Monday morning in a soupy mix of sleet and rain in low 30-degree temperatures. We saw lots of ducks but couldn’t get them to come within shooting range. However, the difficult conditions that tend to accompany duck hunting give many hunters a strong motivation to use as much of their hard-earned fowl as possible.

One of the easiest ways to use the whole bird is to cook the bird whole. It sounds simple enough, and because of the great flavors found in most duck meat, the preparation can be as minimal as mildly salting your plucked bird. You can use your oven, smoker, or even your grill for roasting whole ducks. I wanted to start small, so we are going to look at cooking a single duck breast with the skin intact (feathers plucked).

Oh, and a quick tip: if it’s below 45⁰ or so you can hang your birds for a few days in the shade of your garage, back porch, or anywhere else a cat isn’t going to steal them. People far more experienced than myself have written entire chapters of books on aging birds, and it seems to be safe to keep them this way for up to a week. The best part, you can hang the birds without plucking or gutting them. Obviously, you would never do this with a big game animal like a deer, but with ducks and geese they cool quickly enough that field dressing is an option for later in the week. It is also perfectly fine to field dress a duck or goose and then let it age, feathers on, as my good friend Clay prefers to do.

So, let’s cook a duck breast.

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Jonathan Bowman lives in Amelia County, where he spends as much time as possible hunting, fishing, and cooking. Jonathan loves sharing his passions with others, and is determined to one day convince his wife to join him on a turkey hunt.

  • January 6, 2022