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 Post subject: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:58 am 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:41 pm
Posts: 354
Location: Kannapolis, NC
A friend brought me three ducks yesterday. Two mallards, and I think a gadwall.
What is the best way to maximize the feathers, including the cdc from these birds, for tying?
Any helpful ideas would be appreciated.
THANKS

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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:48 pm 
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Brown Trout

Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:32 am
Posts: 758
Once you get what you want you may want to freeze them for a couple weeks to kill any bugs. Then store them in ziplocs separate from your other feathers. I'm no help for which ones to keep.


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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:02 pm 
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Brown Trout

Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:42 am
Posts: 880
Location: Charlotte
I have been doing a lot of this and considered posting a tutorial but never got around to it. Here are some highlights:

If you want to maximize feathers, and/or keep a variety of interesting feathers (gadwall drake, wigeon, etc) organized by their original skin packaging, skin the bird. Starting out, if you want the meat (probably not at this point), you can remove the breasts by cutting through the white feathers over the breast/belly. Whether you take the meat or not, you will have your initial incision in this location. Then, cut the wings off close to the body. Peel the entire skin off. You will need to cut the legs when you get there, but you can skin the thigh before cutting. The hide will come off easily but can tear during this part of the process so use common sense. Gently wash the detached hide and feathers by hand to remove dirt, blood and bugs. (They are not nearly as delicate as you might imagine once the skin is off.) I use gentle soap and a hose spraying in the direction the feathers are pointing. Blot dry with paper towels (some people use a blow dryer) and/or wrap the skin in paper towel and squeeze gently. It will be fine -- just don't do anything to obviously bend and screw up the feathers. Scrape any excess meat or fat on the skin. Cover the skin side generously with Borax -- don't use salt -- and let it sit for a few weeks in the garage.

I have never bothered with harvesting the CDC. They are the feathers at the preen gland, close to the duck's tail pipe. Someday I will do it but I have not tried yet.

If there are only some feathers you want, or if you are in a hurry, pluck the patch you want and put them in a zip lock bag. (For example, flanks from under the wing, the feathers above the wing, or some body feathers on big ducks). For wood ducks and teal, I like to keep the flanks on the skin but I don't bother with the remainder of the skin. Still, if you are in a hurry, just pluck them. Other ducks like mottled or even hen gadwall seem suited for plucking, at least in my mind. Even then, I like to bag them by feather type, such as flank, top wing, or collar.

Make sure you run the feathers through some deep freeze and thaw cycles to kill any bugs.

Gadwalls have very nice feathers, with my friend JT being a particular fan. The drake has great barred flank feathers that are highly prized for salmon and spey flies. There are also nice barred feathers above the wing and I bet something can be done withe the wide-barred feathers around the collar. The hen seems to have nice feathers, too, with especially interesting soft mottled flank feathers. I will bring some of each to L&T and hope to see what people can create. I will also bring some mottled duck (looks like a black duck, but with a touch of white at the back wing tip) flank, which seems like great wing material but I am a better duck plucker than tier so I don't really know. I also like wood duck flank feathers. Teal flank is nice, but not quite as interesting to me. The prettiest skin I have ever harvested came from a widgeon drake, which I am currently processing in my garage. I might hang it on my wall, it is so beautiful. (They seem unimpressive from a distance but are spectacular up close when you look at the white, cream, brown, mocha and black barred feathers -- sorry if it sounds like I have a feather fetish). Not sure about mallards, I have not harvested one in several years.

Feel free to send me a pm with any questions. Include your phone number, too. As I mentioned, I will also be at L&T with some feathers to share, at least one of the nights.


Last edited by Christensen on Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:21 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:48 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:36 pm
Posts: 122
Aaron's explanation was great! I'll only add something about the harvest of cdc feathers ..... about three inches (anterior) of the ducks pipe you will feel a small bump on on the back of the duck ---- spread the feathers away from the bump (preen gland) and you'll see several "immature" feathers that should look just like the cdc you see in fly shops. Pluck it off, set it aside, and then repeat on the next two ducks. After you've finished with all three you'll have a small pile of probably 30-50 feathers. Place them in a small ziploc baggy and send them my way ;) .

Congrats on getting the ducks from a friend; it's a great way to get materials. By the way, be sure to check out the feathers on the neck ---- they just might make perfect soft hackle feathers :o .


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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:46 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:41 pm
Posts: 354
Location: Kannapolis, NC
THANKS everyone for their experience and encouragement!
I am wading in right now....and I do know the value of the cdc.
b

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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:22 am 
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Warpaint Shiner
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:23 am
Posts: 33
CDC is not worth anything......... pluck them and send them over to me ;) I will dispose of them properly for you.

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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:20 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:36 pm
Posts: 122
benflyfishn, I think it's time you changed your avatar. 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:41 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 1621
Location: Marshall NC
:)

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I love my son.


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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:21 am 
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Warpaint Shiner
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:23 am
Posts: 33
gqualls wrote:
benflyfishn, I think it's time you changed your avatar. 8-)


How's this one for ya........ an indian bow for a soho brownie. ;)

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Fish till it hurts....


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 Post subject: Re: Duck Plucking
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:15 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:36 pm
Posts: 122
Oink, Oink; that pig's sweeter than carnation milk. Very nice avatar!


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