So, what does a traditional bowhunter do at the end of the bow season for big game when the cottontail rabbit numbers crash? Hunt ducks! What else? No, I don’t recommend using archery tackle if you want to eat duck, but if you want to shoot and laugh a bunch… fletch up some flu flu arrows and have at it.

I have taken two ducks out of the air with traditional archery tackle. Both times there were no witnesses except me and the ducks. I’ll admit it took several arrows…ok, several dozen arrows. One duck was a jump shot where I snuck up on it as it came up off the creek. The other was pass shooting. I used to live in an area where I could stand by my practice target and shoot at ducks as they came by in the evening. Then I’d walk out and pick up the arrows in the neighbor’s field. The arrows were easy to recover because most of my shots were overhead and that caused the arrows to stick up like sunflowers. Please use extreme caution when shooting into the air, and make sure everyone is watching for falling arrows.

Both instances of taking ducks the with bow and arrow were strange in that the ducks crumpled in the air, but there was no bang that I usually associate with a dead duck. The thing about shooting at ducks with a bow is that they are usually back the next day to shoot at again! If you’re fortunate enough to take a duck from the air, savor the experience, take a friend along so you have a witness, then honor the duck with a good meal.

Smoke-Cooked Duck

Make a brine using:

  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 2 Tblsp. garlic salt

Soak the ducks in the brine, breast down, in a large bowl for forty-eight hours. Rotate the ducks to their backs for about three hours total during that time. At this time of year I can keep them covered in my garage and they stay below 41 degrees. If you don’t have that option, use the fridge or a cooler with ice. Pre-heat the smoker to 350 degrees. Rinse the ducks and pat them dry, then pop them into the smoke vault with apple chips for twenty minutes. Drop the heat to 200 degrees and cook for two more hours. There you have it, smoke-cooked duck. Eat it warm or refrigerate it for later.