Plucking Tips

Let the Feathers Fly!

Dry Aged, Cold Birds Pluck Best

Plucking results on 4lb mallard after one minute

Dry feathers are important so hang em on your duck strap and let the air dry them while hunting. Hang the birds overnight at 34-38 degrees ideally. Your refrigerator at 38 degrees is perfect. A 6hp and 20 gallon shop-vac is best for collecting feathers and will be full at 25 large ducks. Empty shop-vac into large leaf bag and save for next load. We have bed pillows made at seasons’ end for family and friends. If you can find a dry cleaners with a “pillow bar”, it contains an ozone light and will kill any lice and the pillows are 100% sanitary. If a blood soaked shot wound has gathered feathers just pull em’ out by hand and put into the garbage.

Pluck bird holding on tight to the wings keeping them away from the plucker head. Turn the bird over reversing head position (near and away) as your develop a plucking style.

Note: do not cut off any body parts prior to plucking. Beware of broken wing bones. Your plucking will be made easier with a dry bird so when you pick up that bird or take it from your retriever’s mouth, grab it by the legs and give it a good shake. Hang the bird on your duck strap to get the drying process started.

Wet birds do not pluck well so putting them in a cooler or refrigerator when the outside temperature is above 40 degrees will evaporate the moisture. 2-3 days later you’ll have dry aged cold birds to pluck

Best Dressed Birds

Soak birds overnight in ice water with some salt and you’ll have a beautiful eating bird. Wound and cavity blood is almost entirely eliminated.

A female Canvasback 30 seconds into plucking

Best Freezer Care

Vacuum packers were not available only freezer paper and the ever popular milk cartons filed with water. For my birds the milk cartons are unbeatable with no freezer burn occurring whereas the vacuum packers are not consistent with a 100% seal and freezer burn or drying out can occur with the best seal. A large duck is a perfect fit for a half gallon milk carton. Wildfowl breasts and legs freeze best in a quart size Ziploc bag filled with water. Wrapping your bird 3x-4x with a Saran Wrap type product is a quick and easy process to keep it air tight and avoid freezer burn.

Best Eating Birds

There is no better wild meat for good health and longevity than wild duck and goose. They eat healthy and they eat a variety of natures greens, nuts, clams, rice, grains, invertebrates and worms. No hormones, steroids or antibiotics here! More hunters are after wild meat for their family eating than ever before! No more waste of waterfowl legs and that great tasting skin when you can dry pluck a bird in minutes. For those of you that breast a bird, pluck the breast first then fillet out and cook with the all that flavorful skin.

Dry Aged Meat

As with beef, elk and deer, dry aging for 5-7 days or longer improves the taste and your fowl meat becomes more tender. After the hunt hang your birds in a cool dark area with out eviscerating (gutting) and forget them for 5-7 days. The flavor of dry aged duck and goose is outstanding as Scott Leyseth, one of America’s best wild game chefs writes in the Dec. 2013 issue of Ducks Unlimited magazine. “A fresh bird eaten the same day harvested or the next day has high levels of rich blood and oxygen and tastes tough and earthy,” writes Scott. If you breast your birds or half them, place them in your refrigerator for 5-7 days before cooking. “Once you experience eating dry aged waterfowl you will never go back,” Scott promises.

Brining waterfowl is a popular method of adding flavor and tenderness to dark fleshed game birds. Try a taste test yourself and see which method you prefer: dry aging or brining.

Attention Duck Clubs!

A 55-gallon barrel with a vac head will hold the feathers and down from 500+ ducks and geese.

An Arkansas customer built his own feather containment system using a 55-gallon fiberboard barrel (with top, a steel drum is also good). A 2″ plastic hose can attach to your Fowl Plucker with the other end into the barrel top. Then insert your Shop-Vac hose into the lower side of the barrel with a burlap “wool bag” (for storing sheared sheep wool) in the barrel thus preventing any feathers/down from entering your Shop-Vac.


The Shop-Vac noise can be eliminated by placing the vac outside the plucking room wall so the hose goes thru the wall. Then the plucking room becomes a social hour for good conversation and reliving the days hunt! Also you never have to remove the Shop-Vac filter only run your fingers through the filter blades to clean out excessive feathers! I like to plug both the Shop-Vac and plucker into a surge protector so only one button turns on both at the same time.

55-gallon barrel, Shop-Vac and plucker all connected. Photo credit: Charles Smith of Fayetteville, GA

Burlap wool bag full of feathers and down

Increase your feather storage by cutting a hole in a plastic or fiberboard barrel then setting the top of your Shop-Vac in the opening. You will have to cut the top 4-5″ off your Shop-Vac bucket to place in barrel opening so your shop top fits tight. An airtight seal can be created by stuffing a plastic garbage bag or weather stripping around vac top.

King Eider Success!

Famous Eider hunter Eddie Coles of Glovertown Newfoundland has been scalding King Eiders for a lifetime.  He says “you can’t pluck them.” He tested our black duck fingers in January 2012 on these 4-6lb sea going ducks with 100% success!

We guarantee The FowlPlucker to pluck all diver ducks!

Goose Plucking

The Blue Goose fingers for The Fowl Plucker will bring a “Yeah! Finally!” for the goose hunter that has always plucked by hand. No scalding, no paraffin. Hang your geese for 2-8 days at 34-39 degrees with out eviscerating and before plucking.

A few hand plucks to expose the skin helps the plucker head find a starting place especially on the breast side. Some geese can be difficult to pick even with a strong hand. Domestic, Heritage Geese are best plucked by the age old methods of hot water scalding, hot paraffin waxing or hand plucking. Even though I do not recommend the Fowl Plucker for plucking domestic geese it performs well finishing the bird of all the small eye feathers, new feathers and down.

If you want to pluck your geese the same day as harvested put them in a freezer for 3-4 hours to tighten the skin then pluck. It works good!

The Cree Nation celebrate spring goose hunting with an annual holiday called Goose Break

A 3 minute goose plucking, field testing our Blue Goose fingers.

Honker plucked clean with our Blue Goose fingers.

Homemade scalding bucket for plucked birds made by L. H. Lammers of Stuttgart, Ark. There are three 1/16″ holes drilled in the circular copper tube. An air compressor hose is attached and a Jacuzzis bath tumbling a dozen birds is created. After 15 minutes of cold water action the birds are bloodless and restaurant perfect as The Best Dressed Duck!


Large wild mallard duck plucked with our Blue Goose fingers.


A home grown 8-lb Peking duck plucked with the Fowl Plucker duck fingers. Better to have avoided the molt so no pin feathers. For my money, the Peking is the best tasting of all the Heritage Ducks. The back is displayed for a reason: some of the the best eating come off the back sides.


Historical Dry Plucking & Scalding Facts

A 1910 publication, Poultry Farming by The International Correspondence Schools states:

Dry plucking requires less labor initially than plucking after scalding and insures a far better finished product. Dry plucked fowls always present a more attractive appearance than those that have been plucked after scalding. Scalding injures the appearance of the skin to some extent no matter how skillfully it may be done. In fact, even birds of poor quality if properly dry plucked will often appear to better advantage than birds of a better quality that have been scalded.”

Another interesting comment is made regarding a marinade, “milk is to be preferred as it not only softens but whitens and flavors the skin of the fowl.” It also states that “scalded poultry will not keep so well in cold storage as dry-plucked”.

One of the best features of The Fowl Plucker is that no singeing is required after plucking whereas after hand plucking singeing is always a hated final step.


Portable plucker: In the field plucking by David Argo of Cincinnati


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plucked Alberta mallard
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