Wax On … Wax Off

Giving ducks a hot-wax treatment pays off in smooth skin

Wax On … Wax Off
Waxing a teal pulls off all the feathers. (James Overstreet photo)

ROANOKE, La. — If you've ever tried to pluck a duck, you know how maddening it can be. When you think you're finally finished, some of those tiny pinfeathers seem to magically reappear.

That's why many of us opt to simply pull the breast skin apart and fillet the breast meat off the bone, or drop the ducks at a commercial picker's and pay to get a whole duck done right.

But there is a better, less-expensive method. As Mr. Miyagi instructed in "The Karate Kid": "Wax on … wax off."


Click image to see step-by-step process of waxing birds



Dennis Tietje has long favored a hot-wax treatment for the hundreds of blue-winged teal that are killed on his family's rice and crawfish farm in southwest Louisiana. It provides a nice ending to a morning's hunt: tell a few stories while making quick work of cleaning the birds.


"Crack it open like an egg," said Tietje, demonstrating the final process. "It's easy."

As he stood there holding a feather-free teal, indeed it did seem easy. The bird looked like something you'd find in the poultry section of a supermarket, wrapped in cellophane.

Here's the equipment you need: 1) a 10-gallon pot; 2) a propane burner that will hold the pot; 3) a No. 9 galvanized wash tub (or anything close); 4) enough wax to float about a one-inch layer in the heated pot.

The wax is the key ingredient here. Tietje buys 10-pound blocks of paraffin wax at a local craft store for about $25, then breaks it into chunks and adds to the pot as needed. You can find specialty duck and poultry waxes on the Internet, as well. It's supposed to do a better job than the canning/candle-making paraffin, which did the job just fine on this day.


Fill the pot two-thirds full of water and, as it warms, start adding the wax until a thick layer is floating on the water. While that's going on, clip the wings off the ducks and "rough pluck" them. With the easy-to-pull larger feathers off the ducks, the wax can get deeper into the pinfeathers.

You want to keep the wax-and-water pot at a temperature past the melting point of the wax, but not so hot that it gets "thin" and fails to provide a thick coat of wax to each duck when it's gently dipped in and out of the mixture.

From the hot wax pot, the ducks go into an ice-water bath in the washtub. This solidifies the wax. Don't get in a hurry. Let the wax "set up," and tell some hunting tales.


Then, as Tietje said, you just crack open the now hard-coated teal, like an egg, and all the feathers come off in the two pieces of wax shell.

With small ducks, like teal, Tietje uses poultry shears to makes two cuts along each side of the backbone – from bottom to top. Grab the backbone and entrails, then pull. Clip off the head and feet, and after a quick rinse under a faucet, these birds are ready for the kitchen. For bigger ducks, you can cut from the vent to the bottom of the breastbone and remove the entrails that way.

It's all as easy as, "Wax on … wax off," like Mr. Miyagi said.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

What

What's New with Abu Garcia Veritas Rods?

There are big changes to Abu Garcia's popular Veritas series of rods. Andrew Wheeler highlights the new features with In-Fisherman's Doug Stange as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Kevin VanDam Fishing Reels from Lew

Kevin VanDam Fishing Reels from Lew's

The Kevin VanDam LFS Baitcast reel ($139.99) comes in three models (6.2:1, 7.5:1, 8.3:1), with right- and left-hand retrieve, 10-bearing system with Zero Reverse one-way clutch, aluminum frame and spool, carbon fiber drag system, up to 20 pounds drag power.

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Human-powered serious fishing kayak; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Strike King KVD J-100 Jerkbait & KVD 1.5 Hard Knock

Strike King KVD J-100 Jerkbait & KVD 1.5 Hard Knock

Strike King introduces two, new exciting baits to their already stellar lineup this 2020: the KVD J-100 Jerkbait, and the KVD 1.5 Hard Knock. KVD sits down with In-Fisherman Associate Publisher Todd Ceisner to explain how these two baits are going to help catch you more fish.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement. Make the most of it. Whitetail

Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success

Tony Peterson - August 18, 2020

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement....

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season. Bows

19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day

Bob Robb - August 21, 2020

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

When spring and summertime high water comes to your favorite catfish lake, how do you catch these popular fish in a suddenly flooded environment? Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish in High Water

Game & Fish Staff

When spring and summertime high water comes to your favorite catfish lake, how do you catch...

See More Trending Articles

More Waterfowl

From waterfowl to upland, check out these shotguns for bird hunting. Guns

Find Your Next Bird Gun Here

September 03, 2019

From waterfowl to upland, check out these shotguns for bird hunting.

Field skills: Double up with these effective decoy strategies. Waterfowl

Fool Ducks and Geese with Combo Spread

M.D. Johnson

Field skills: Double up with these effective decoy strategies.

Are you using the right hen-to-drake ratio in your spread? It could make all the difference. Waterfowl

Three Better Approaches to Mallard Hunting

M.D. Johnson - August 28, 2019

Are you using the right hen-to-drake ratio in your spread? It could make all the difference.

Modern duck-hunting technology has changed how we hunt. What do we really need to be successful? Waterfowl

Ducks: Go Old School to Get Your Quack On

M.D. Johnson - December 04, 2019

Modern duck-hunting technology has changed how we hunt. What do we really need to be...

See More Waterfowl

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now