Duck Offal Street Tacos

| December 31, 2020
Duck offal street style tacos
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
Preparation Time

10 to 15 Minutes

Cooking Time

10 to 15 Minutes

Total Time

20 to 30 Minutes

Servings

1 to 2

Don’t waste those hearts and gizzards, because they are offal good, especially in a duck offal street taco.  Yeah, its a corny play on words, but its also true.

Some hunters are picky about duck species, others just plain suck at cooking duck, and think they all taste like trash.  It’s no surprise that a duck hunter, who doesn’t care much for duck meat, would pay no attention to the organs. They are missing out.

Its probably just my opinion, but unlike duck meat, you can’t really overcook an organ.  Almost any overcooked duck breast will taste like liver, species does not matter.

With regards to hearts and gizzards, they taste fairly fairly mild, don’t change flavor much, and when overcooked, can be shredded.  I prefer to leave them with a little bit of a chew to them, but dice them small.

Ingredients

4 Small Corn Tortillas
2 to 4 Duck Gizzards and Hearts
1/2 Small Onion, Chopped
1/2 Cup Cilantro, Chopped
2 to 4 Lime Wedges
Green Tomatillo based salsa, or salsa of choice. Tapatio will do in a pinch.
Salt, to taste
Black Pepper
Garlic powder, to taste
Oregano, to taste
Cumin, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Epazote, to taste

Directions

  1. Season hearts and gizzards with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, and paprika. If you don’t like an ingredient, don’t use it. If you have access to an herb called Epazote, use a little bit of it, as it helps ‘lighten’ gamey tastes.
  2. Sautee hearts and gizzards in a pan until thoroughly cooked.
  3. Chop onions and cilantro for toppings.
  4. Slice limes into wedges.
  5. Chop fully cooked organ meat into small bits.
  6. Heat tortillas.
  7. Fill tortillas with the meat, onions, cilantro, salsa, and squeeze a little lime over them.
  8. Enjoy!
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Basic Waterfowl Gear

| December 30, 2020
Morning Sun and Decoying
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Interested in waterfowl hunting and wondering what basic waterfowl gear you actually need to get started? The truth is you don’t need to spend a fortune, and you can probably bag birds with a shotgun, camouflage, and a stick.

Adding anything else to your gear, will greatly improve your odds, but if you had to, you could do it pretty bare bones.

The Basic Equipment:

A shotgun, some sort of camouflage or concealment, and a long stick to retrieve birds.

Shotgun

If you have one, use it.  You don’t need to go out and buy a brand new waterfowl specific shotgun. A 12 gauge is ideal because of an increased pattern density and shot string, but a 20 gauge hits just as hard with the right shot size and will get the job done.

Camouflage/Concealment

You can sufficiently conceal yourself with a camo long sleeve shirt, camo hat, and natural colored hiking or tactical pants. You can probably get lucky once in a while wearing natural colors, but taking things a little further will help you break up your shape, and blend in with your surroundings. Waterfowl can see some things better than humans can, so concealment will get birds a lot closer, and give you more shooting opportunities.

A Long Stick or Pole

If you are not hunting birds over grain fields, then you’ll need a stick or pole to retrieve downed birds. Of course, thats why a lot of hunters have bird dogs, waders, or a boat, but recovering birds is fairly easy with only a stick when jump shooting narrow ponds or small rivers and creeks.

Going Above and Beyond the Basics

You don’t have to break the bank, and you can get by pretty minimally, while you figure out if waterfowl hunting is for you. However, when you realize how much you love waterfowling, you’ll want to go the distance. Improved concealment, waders, decoys, and maybe even some sort of watercraft will change and enhance the experience, as well as your level of success. Also, success is just more fun, than unsuccessful learning experiences.  Shooting a limit and not worrying about getting wet, or how you might recover a downed duck, is a much more fun experience than stressing over recovering birds, going home wet, or even empty handed.

Camouflage/Concealment Materials and Blinds

Camo Netting
Camo Burlap
Raffia Grass
Synthetic Yarn Grass
Layout Blind by Bulk Decoy Club

Waders

I mostly wear insulated Realtree Max5 camo chest waders by TIDEWE, because the water I hunt is cold, and fairly deep. When I hunt shallow ponds in warmer weather, I use PVC/Nylon Hip Waders by TIDEWE. Unless you have a dog, waders are a must for expanding your shooting ranges over water, and to shoot beyond what is retrievable with a stick. I really enjoy wearing my chest waders, they keep me warm and dry, and even feature a built in dry bag/pocket, warming pocket, accessory attachment rings, and shell holders.

Decoys

These are my personal preferences. I have these and use these successfully. I also think they provide the best value for the dollar.
Lucky Duck - Spinning Wing Decoys
Hard Core Brands Mallard Floater Decoys, 12 Pieces
Flambeau Outdoors, Storm Front 2 Blue-Winged Teal Floating Decoys
– Hard Core Brands Teal Decoys. I don’t see them on Amazon at the time of posting this, but Higdon Outdoors Standard Green Wing Teal Decoys seem like they’d be an okay replacement.
– You’ll also want to rig all of them with Hard Core Brands Texas Rig, I do.

Watercraft

I use a modified Lifetime Tamarack Angler Kayak, with an anchor and a camo paint job. I’ve also added tons of padeye attachment points for brushing materials.

Other options, albeit much larger and more expensive, include dedicated Sneak Boats, like the Beavertail 2000 Series Stealth, which has room for two people, decoy carrying capacity, and room for a dog.

A float tube, is another option. However, I personally prefer a more rigid and sturdy craft that doesn’t involve inflatables near rough water, abusive environments, and projectiles.

Don’t be a drowning statistic, and never rely on neoprene waders to keep you afloat. Get yourself a reliable PFD like the Onyx camo shooting life vest, and wear it!

Final Thoughts

Nobody knows everything their first day out, and you will learn a lot about waterfowl hunting in a pretty short amount of time. With more experience, you’ll likely change strategy, gear preferences, style of hunting, etc. So acquiring equipment as you need it, makes better sense than splurging on gear you potentially wont want or use later. Whats important is getting outside, sharing the experience that waterfowlers love and enjoy, and learning as much as you can along the way.

Please Stay Safe!

Fast moving water that is only waste deep can easily sweep you under.  Winds can cause large waves on waters that were nearly dead still out of nowhere, and capsize your boat or kayak. Hypothermia can render a person unconscious in less than fifteen minutes in cy waters. Thats probably less time than it would take you to fumble to a shore line in bulky waders.  If there is any chance at all, that you will be in, or crossing water, wear a PFD. I use and recommend the Onyx camo life vest. Its designed for shooting, and has mesh on the shoulders where you shoulder your shotgun.

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Shooting Limits

| December 10, 2020
Two Man Limits
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Shooting limits is nearly every waterfowler’s goal. There are caveats, like species specific hunts, but generally waterfowler’s are trying to shoot their limit of ‘premium’ ducks.

I don’t turn my nose up at any duck species, so I don’t necessarily consider one duck more ‘premium’ than another. Contrary to a bunch of nonsense on old internet forums, any species of duck, treated properly and cooked properly, will taste good. However, some ducks provide more meat, while others are just more fun to shoot.

Just because I can scout and decoy one spot well, and shoot a limit, that doesn’t mean I don’t continuously scout new locations, hunting styles, decoying methods, or seeing if I can’t replicate success at new locations.

Sometimes, things are great, other times, they are a complete bust. I never dwell on, or preoccupy my thoughts with how I could have done better at another spot. I treat every individual experience as a learning experience, and that has made me a better waterfowler.

My biggest takeaways about important factors are:
Barometric Pressure
Temperatures
Wind Direction
Wind Strength
Decoy Visibility
Decoy Spread Setup
Decoy Motion
Concealment

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Lucky Duck Junior II

| December 7, 2020
Lucky Duck Junior II
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

The Lucky Duck Junior II Spinning Wing Decoy is a spinning wing decoy that will bring ducks into your decoy spread. It works great on big water, in fields, or tucked away water holes where visibility could be limited, or the birds far away.

Before I get into my experiences with the Lucky Duck Junior II, I think its worth talking about it’s features.

Features

Realistic mallard drake carving, although the wings aren’t as natural looking as the ‘HD’ branded wings.
Made from Durable EVA plastic
Magnetic corrugated wings
12-14 hour run time, waterproof on off switch.
Collapsible stand/Stake included
Easy bungee mounting system
HD remote kit ready – remote not included (HD Remote Kit - 49.99)
Cost: 58.99

I used the Lucky Duck Junior II version that included a remote for the first time last season, and it was a game changer. The non-remote version is cheaper, but will accept the HD Remote Kit if you want to add remote functionality later.

I didn’t get to use the Lucky Duck Junior II all of the 2019 season, just the last bit of it, but I realized I had been missing out. I’m not a great caller, so the spinning wing decoy helped get last minute commitment over decoys, as well as attract ducks from longer distances than a spread of only floating decoys could. Place a spinner at the end of a landing path in your decoy spread, and its sure to get birds to flare right in the middle of the kill zone.

Compared to other similarly priced spinning wing decoys, like the MOJO Outdoors Elite Series Mini Mallard. I think its the best bang for your buck. Its quieter than other decoy brands, and hardly vibrates. The spinning motion speed seems standard for the industry, and maintains a natural ‘flicker’. The remote also has a random setting, that turns on and off the spinning, to avoid having it look mechanical or unnatural.

The Takeaway

Spinning wing decoys bring the ducks, the way only an expert caller possibly could, and probably even better for longer distances. If you are going to take a serious dive into duck hunting, want to limit, and want to add spinning decoys. Go big! I wish I had initially bought the Lucky Pair II for 129.99, and the Lucky HD Remote Kit for 49.99 to control them both.

The version I bought last year was 79.99, and included a remote installed in one decoy. I believe its a version made especially for Rogers Sporting Goods. While it works great, I wish I had more, hence the recommendation above.

Get a spinner, put it in the right spot, and shoot your limits!

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Duck Yak

| December 2, 2020
Duck Yak on the water
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

A Duck Yak, or as others call them a Quack Yak, are kayaks setup or modified for waterfowl hunting. Mine is a basic angling kayak, modified for duck hunting.

I didn’t have a dog to retrieve ducks my first year of waterfowl hunting, and chest waders only let a person wade so far into big water. I’ve learned a lot, and improved my harvest with better tactics, but setting up a kayak for duck hunting has been a huge game changer.

My Duck Yak is a modified Lifetime Tamarack 100 angling kayak. I couldn’t justify owning a dedicated sneak boat, and don’t have the space to store a nice drift or jon boat, even if I could justify the cost.

Camo Paint Job

I added an anchor, a few small boat cleats, a lager cup holder that is usually used for spent shot shells, button snaps for adjusting material camo, a few rattle cans of Rustoleum camouflage paint, a little labor, and some mounting hardware can change a simple kayak, into a great duck yak.

Of course, the setup isn’t complete without a camo life vest, and a few good kayak leashes to keep things, like your paddle, from disappearing into the sink.

I’m harvesting above the average, and half of my time hunting is spent in the Duck Yak. It’s a fun and exciting way to hunt, and makes bird recovery and access to new spots easy.

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Cleaning Brass

| December 2, 2020
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Wondering what the best method for cleaning brass is? You’ve probably looked at wet tumblers, dry tumblers, and ultrasonic cleaners. There is actually a fairly simple truth. Use whatever method you are most comfortable with.

I only dry tumble. I use walnut media in a Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ 110V Vibratory Case Tumbler. I decided on dry tumbling, and using polishing agents, because it works great for me.

My brass gets clean, shiny, and free of grit and debris. It’s important that brass gets cleaned before resizing, but more important than being shiny, is lubrication.

Whatever tumbling method you choose, so long as your brass gets cleaned and properly lubed, you should be good to run it through the resizing and de-priming dies.

Brass Processing Steps

Dry Tumble with walnut and One Shot Case Polish
Lubricate with Unique Case Lube
De-prime/Resize
Clean the primer pocket with a brass wire brush on the end of a drill.
Dry tumble with walnut and One Shot Case Polish
Trim Case Length with case length trimmer and gauge
Deburr inside and outside with case conditioning tool
Prime
Powder Charge
Seat bullet

clean resized brass

Some people don’t let their brass touch the ground, and/or just don’t clean their brass. To each their own, I always tumble and polish, and I get consistent, accurate results for bolt actions, and semi-automatics.

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