Both Pat Bordelon and Mike Branton love to eat ducks. They eat them roasted. They eat them smoked. They eat them in gumbo. They eat them as bacon-wrapped roll-ups.
“My momma makes cornbread dressing with them,” Branton said. “She uses my grandmother’s recipe.”
But nothing can ruin a duck for the table faster than a poorly cleaned bird. Both men swear by cleaning their ducks using melted paraffin wax, a method many hunters have heard about, but few have done.
“The good thing about waxing ducks,” chuckled Branton, “is that it gives you time to drink a beer while the wax is heating up.”
Of course, he was kidding — at least partly. The best things about waxing ducks is that it is fast, easy and produces a beautiful bird with no pin feathers or fuzz.
Branton, ever full of one-liners, admired the first bird after he cracked off the hard wax. Not a BB hole marred the breast.
“It don’t make no difference if they’re flying or not,” he said. “All they gotta do is get close enough.”
Follow these steps to produce your own gorgeous birds for the table:
1) After cutting off the birds’ wings, rough pluck them to remove the larger and stiffer tail and body feathers.
2) Melt about half a block of bulk paraffin wax with 6 to 8 inches of water in a pot large enough to accommodate dipping the bodies of the largest birds to be cleaned. Use enough wax to submerge the entire birds’ bodies except for the head. A seafood boiling rig is ideal for heating the wax.
3) Holding the head, dip each bird — one at a time — in the melted wax up to its neck, and then remove it slowly while using a stick to scrape off and conserve any excess wax.
4) Drop the birds into buckets of cold water to allow the wax to harden.
5) After the wax has hardened, crack it off the body of the bird. It should remove all the feathers. Used wax filled with feathers may be strained for reuse, but doing so requires more propane for heating it. Branton and Bordelon discard the wax removed from the birds.
6) The clean bird is then ready for removal of its head and gutting.