How to Clean a Duck


Cleaning a duck is done using one of two methods. Many hunters will simply remove the prime breast meat without plucking or gutting the duck. This is especially common on smaller varieties containing very little meat outside the breasts. The alternative is plucking, skinning and gutting to prepare the entire duck for cooking. Cleaning the duck in the field is ideal and prevents the need for handling guts and feathers in the home.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Gardening shears
  • Surgical gloves


  • Pull the feathers from the breast area until the chest is exposed. The amount of feathers removed is according to preference. The idea is to simply expose some skin for an easy work area.

  • Use the knife to make a small slit through the skin at the base of the breastbone. Use your fingers to separate the skin and expose the breasts. The skin is pliable and easy to manipulate.

  • Cut between the breastbone and the meat on one side of the bone. Work the knife against the bone until the breast is free. Repeat on the opposite side to free the other breast.

Whole Duck

  • Use gardening shears to cut the legs and the wings off the duck. Cut right at the base of each leg and wing for easy removal.

  • Place the duck on its back and peel the feathers off the breast, belly and neck until the entire front side is exposed. The skin will also peel away, leaving only the meat exposed.

  • Flip the duck over and peel away the skin and feathers on the backside.

  • Use the shears to cut off the head at the base of the neck. Use the shears to cut off the tail. Cut through the small tailbone at the very base of the tail.

  • Make an incision in a half-circle around the base of the breasts. Reach inside the body cavity and remove the guts. Save the heart for cooking if desired.

  • Take the duck home and rinse with fresh water. Use your hands to remove any leftover feathers and cut out any remaining pellets from the shot.

Tips & Warnings

  • Any sharp knife is adequate but a fillet knife is especially useful. The thin blade and sharp edge are ideal for cleaning the duck.
  • Store the cleaned bird in a plastic bag and place on ice to preserve the meat.
  • Always cut away from your body with the knife. Wear surgical gloves to prevent contact with bodily fluids.

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  • Photo Credit mtoome/iStock/Getty Images
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