Once we got back into town from our trip up north, Matt only took about 15 minutes to brief the kids before they left to have the worst three months of their lives. We ended up heading out to the public land to hunt. After we returned from that, we cleaned our birds- Matt skinned my mallard, and I plucked and gutted the rest of them. I save the fine feathers and down- I plan to sew a down comforter once I get enough. I have one garbage bag full already.
As you can see, they’re pretty shot up. Only the wood duck drake was nice-looking enough for me to want to leave whole, and he’s the one all the way to the left. Second from the right is my hen, skinned. So, I breasted out all but the woodie. However, I still skinned the carcasses after taking the breasts- I’ll make soup and stock out of them and the necks. They aren’t pictured because it’s a bit gross, but we save the livers, hearts, and gizzards too- catfish bait. They’re labelled in the freezer now.
Even still, I could use more. I’ve read about using the feet to thicken soups, with their high collagen content. Folks a couple generations back in my family used to eat fried chicken feet plain. The only bits I ended up tossing were the heads, the feet, the wing tips (very difficult to pluck the pin feathers from migratory birds), and the intestines. When we get more birds that are less shot up, I may render the skin. That’s if I breast them out- if they’re whole, the skin stays on.