The duck season is well under way here in Minnesota and as is my usual I was down in Wabasha hunting with my longtime friend and duck hunting guru Eric Passe. It is interesting to me how Eric and I have changed our hunting practices as we have gotten older. some of that having to do with the constantly changing rules and regulations of duck hunting. When we first started duck hunting together legal shooting hours didn't start until 9 AM so we would get up and head out to the swamp around 5 AM and try to find a spot in a very crowded swamp.
This year we could start shooting a half hour before sunrise so we wanted to get out there a little earlier. We got up at 2 AM, that may seem ridiculous to some but we weren't even the first ones out there. As we drove through the swamp there were already other hunters out there. I am pretty sure some of them went out the night before and camped out in their boats. The stretch of the Mississippi river that we hunt is a very popular spot for duck hunting. For Eric opening day is more about tradition than actually shooting ducks.
He usually picks a spot where he is pretty certain there will be some wood ducks and then treats opening day like a wood duck hunt. If he gets his three wood ducks he is done hunting for the day. That's not to say that he would take any other duck if the opportunity presented itself. He just doesn't feel the need to compete with every other hunter out there for the lone hen mallard flying way to high to shoot at anyway. It is almost a comedy show down there when a mallard or goose comes flying over. everybody is certain that their duck or goose call is going to be the one that brings tat bird in and the symphony of calling begins. What is truly funny is when the goose calls start and the whole swamp chimes in. Everybody is calling and your looking around and can't see anything and then you realize they are all calling at a high migrating flock of cormorants.
This year was a pretty good year that first morning Eric had gotten us into a great little spot and as soon as the shooting began the wood ducks started diving in there we had our wood duck limit in about an hour and hung out til about 830 just to see if any teal would grace us with their presence. The next morning was more of the same, a few less ducks than the day before but we could have easily hit our 6 wood duck limit if my shooting had been a little better. All totaled we shot 9 wood ducks over the two mornings we hunted and I had plenty of duck to try out a new stew I had been working on.
I had made this stew a couple of times with pork and it turned out wonderfully. I felt like it was only missing one thing and that was some wild game meat and duck was what I had in mind. I used the duck breasts for the meat and made a nice stock with the rest of the bodies. My pictures don't do this stew justice it was awesome. I used a tomatillo salsa that I had made, the whole stew has a nice smokeyness and just enough heat to make you happy. The hominy gives it an addition level of texture and flavor and really puts this stew at the top of my favorites list. The best part is it is done in the crockpot so you can start it before you leave for a day of hunting and come home to a hearty meal at the end of the day.
Duck Stew with Peppers and Hominy
1.5 lbs duck cut into 1 inch cubes
4 green peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups of duck stock
8 ounces of tomatillo salsa (any salsa verde would work)
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 16 oz cans white hominy, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Season the duck with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium high heat and when It starts to smoke brown the duck pieces in batches until all the duck is browned. Put all the duck in the crockpot and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and set the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice and enjoy.
This will work well with almost any game meat and worked well with pork and chicken also.