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Old 01-03-2013, 07:24 PM
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Default duck.. duck.. now what?

This morning at work a coworker informed me that he had placed a duck in a cooler in the back of my truck, b/c apparently this species is not so tasty and he thought I might like to salvage the feathers for tying. A kind gesture (and yes, the bird was legally taken - and I might add, his only bird on a 4 day excursion), but I have no idea where to begin with a complete duck!

Searches around the site and the web have returned some steps to take perhaps once its been skinned (do i need to skin it?) or that begin at other steps in the process.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated... at this point I have a duck in a plastic trash bag on a table outside.. its 32 F out doors right now.

It is a hooded merganser (again, legal take in VA this time of year - and well under limit thanks to my coworkers poor luck it would seem) if that makes any difference (perhaps I should only try to salvage certain feathers?).

Thank you in advance!
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

Im not positive. But Id start with clipping off the wings. If they are not rigor mortissed maybe stretch out the wings. The flanks are on the chest and are good to pluck. Not sure about the head and cape. Is it a drake? Might be nice to have the cape from behind the eyes if its a male and has a nice crest.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:42 PM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

I just pluck the heck out of them. If there are feathers that I want that got blood on them I wash them. Might not hurt to rinse them all. but I don't. That's all I ever do.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

Technically speaking, the correct answer to the question "duck, duck, now what?" is........GOOSE!

Anyways I would take the wings (these are great as the wing on wet flies), pluck the flanks really well (a lot of these feathers can be used in traditional style (catskill etc.....) dry flies and the like. If you look near the preen gland (very close to the behind) and remove the feathers covering the soft ones beneath you should find soft, oily feathers that are very "wispy" (for a lack of a better word). These are CDC, or Cul De Canard (fancy french for a** of duck).

CDC is used in all sorts of nymphs, a LOT of dries, even a few streamers.

Those are the main feathers to grab but as DiverDan said just pluck as much as you can of everything. If you don't find a use for it then you wasted a few seconds plucking feathers.

If it's a mallard you are in luck. Great feathers come from those. I have a bag full myself from a locally taken duck.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

I am a skin it kind of guy. Harder when it is cooled off. Check youtube? If you can find a video it would be easier. Either way a nice score.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

I would keep the wings whole and separate. Some patterns require a section of feather from matching left and right wings. A Swisher & Richards no hackle dun is one example. If you want to pull the wing feathers instead, pull matched feathers from the right and then the left and tape them together as matched pairs.

Pull the body feathers and sort them as to type. Allow to dry completely on a newspaper and store in zip lock bags.

Treat any meat such as the raw parts of the wings with 20 Mule Team laundry borax.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:27 PM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

I'm with Kerry I'm a skin it guy and as Silver said treat with Borax. Clip the wings and keep separate. There are many videos on how to skin waterfowl. If its a merganser you might want to do it soon as not only don't they taste good they get real smelly real fast!

---------- Post added at 11:27 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:24 PM ----------

Male hoods have gorgeous plumage!
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

All, thank you for the responses, very helpful. It is in fact a male merganser. I looked over him last night and there are some gorgeous feathers on there. On the breast in particular there are some feathers that look almost like miniature white barred turkey feathers.. I can think of a few uses for those for sure.

With regard to skinning - is that a difficult process? One skinned, I could just lay it flat (feathers down) and coat it with borax? How long do I leave the borax there? I assume I would then freezer treat the whole thing?

With regard to the wings - what should I do after clipping them free? I mean, there would still be muscle etc in there.. what needs to be done to the wings so that they can be stored?

Thank you again all, and happy new year!
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:39 AM
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Default Re: duck.. duck.. now what?

I'm in the same boat as you! I just shot 4 rooster pheasants and 1 hen, plus a family member gave me a nice rooster (chicken) saddle on the skin.

I skinned the pheasants myself -- pretty easy actually. (After removing the wings) I just opened the belly area and pulled the skin off like a sock using my fingers.

To preserve, I just put everything in the freezer for 2 days, then took it out for a few days and salted the skin, removed excess fat/tissue, and back in the freezer.

When I am tying soft hackles I just pull out what I need and put it in the freezer again when I'm done.

Works okay so far --
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