How to field-breast ducks

You don’t have to wait to get home or to the camp before breasting out ducks, if you know this trick.
You don’t have to wait to get home or to the camp before breasting out ducks, if you know this trick.

Hunters who plan to only use the breasts of their ducks have little need to clean and transport whole birds from the field or camp to their home.

But breasting birds by removing their breasts is illegal until the birds reach their final destination. Game wardens must be able to identify the species of ducks in hunters’ possession, so federal and state law requires that either the head or one fully feathered wing be attached to each bird for legal possession.

Pat Attaway and John Dupuis not only come up with their own ideas, but they are quick to adopt other’s ideas that they like. They learned this fast method of field-breasting ducks from Bob Marshall, the former outdoors editor for the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, who hunted near them several years ago.

It’s fast, slick as a whistle and legal — a great way to bring home duck breasts for barbecued ducks.

The steps

1) Rough pluck a row of feathers down the center of the bird’s breast. This is necessary for diving ducks, but may be skipped on puddle ducks, as they have a more-tender skin.

2) Split the skin down the center of the breast and peel it as far back as possible on each side of the breast. Note that for diving ducks, which have much-tougher skin, the skin over the breast might need to be slit or scissored down the center of the breast before skinning.

3) Jab the thumb of one hand under the lower end of the breast and, grasping the breast firmly, elevate the back of the breast to a vertical position to break it loose from the rest of the body.

4) Insert several fingers of each hand into the opening between the bird’s neck and breast.

5) While holding the breast up with one hand, use the other to firmly pull the rest of the carcass down and away from the breast.

6) The result is the duck’s intact breast with both wings attached. One wing may be removed and discarded.

About Jerald Horst 47 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman. Jerald may be reached at

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