I know it’s a long shot, but perhaps you still have some ducks or geese in the freezer from past seasons.Of course, you know that it’s best to cook the older birds from the freezer before you start munching on this year’s harvest. Maybe you’ve overlooked a wad of frozen honker breasts. You certainly don’t want to be over your possession limit so why not turn it into some tasty jerky?
Here’s a question that I’ve asked fish and game enforcement officers across the country, “If I turn my waterfowl into sausage or jerky, how does that affect my possession limit?” The answers range from, “Not sure” to “It doesn’t affect your possession limit.” It makes sense to me that, once you’ve turned your geese into processed meat, it is no longer a goose. But you probably shouldn’t take my word for it.
Conservation season hunters know all too well that, as much fun as it is to shoot a truckload of snow geese, processing them is another story. Unfortunately, there are unethical hunters who choose to discard, rather than cook and eat them. Turning a pile of snow goose breasts into jerky or sausage is a great way to make room in the freezer and save a ton of money on store-bought jerky. It seems a shame to me to make jerky out of a plump mallard or pintail, but honkers, snow geese and “lesser” ducks often end up in my smoker or dehydrator.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes for game jerky. It works as well with antlered game as it does with waterfowl. If you prefer jerky that’s more tender to the bite, pound it lightly with a mallet or cast iron skillet before adding to the marinade. Slicing across the “grain” of the meat will also render and more tender jerky. If you don’t have access to a smoker, this recipe works fine in an oven. Just make sure that the oven door is left open about 1/2-inch so the moisture can escape and the meat will dry out.
Smoky Spicy Garlicky Duck or Goose Jerky
Makes about 1 pound of jerky
4 pounds (about 2 quarts) skinless duck or goose breast fillets, sliced lengthwise about 1/4-inch thick
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 cup honey
1 cup water
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Sriracha
3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir well to blend. Add meat strips, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove meat from marinade and dry on racks (baking racks work great) in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Place in a 175 degree oven or smoker for 1 hour. Lower temperature to 150 degrees and, if using a standard kitchen oven, crack the door open about 1 inch to allow moisture to escape. After 5 hours, flip meat over and dry heat or smoke for another 5 hours or until meat is thoroughly dry.
2. After cooling, package jerky in vacuum-sealed packages or freezer-safe zipper lock bags and freeze for up to 1 year.