Both Barrels July 2020
Hunting ‘willow mallards’
During the day, mallards will often rest up underneath willows located on the margins of our rivers.
These willows offer overhead cover and concealment as well as a sheltered place to see out the day before departing for evening feeding.
The best way to target these mallards is to do a scout in the middle of the day to find a patch of willows that mallards are using.
Once you have located a suitable number of mallards in a group, try to move away without disturbing them.
The following morning is when you should target these birds to lessen the likelihood they are disturbed by someone else.
You should be set up before sunrise, keeping in mind that you should not need too many decoys because the ducks have become accustomed to using the willows during the day; you may even get away with no decoys at all.
Dress in camo and find a patch of scrub to conceal yourself opposite the willows in which the mallards are using.
If all goes to plan, you should have a few opportunities to have a crack at these mallards as they return to their patch of willows.
Fast roast mallard
When it comes to roasting a duck, gone are the days of cooking a duck low and slow – such a method often results in a mallard that is overcooked, has a strong flavour and poor colour on the skin.
We suggest cooking your mallard at a high temperature (>300°C) for a short period (18-22 mins).
To successfully use this method, preheat your oven to as hot as it will go.
Take your mallard (which is a room temperature) and rub oil and salt onto the outside of the bird.
You will need to put your mallard on a rack within an oven tray and put some water in the bottom of the tray.
This water will catch any fat that drips off the bird and stops the fat catching on fire.
Set a timer for 20 minutes once your bird hits the oven.
Let your mallard rest for 3-4 minutes before cutting.
Using this method will ensure you mallard is pink in the middle, is nice and tender with good colour on the skin.
Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game Officer