To shoot - a Merganser

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To shoot - a Merganser

Postby jedijon » Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:43 pm

This fella came in nice and early today. Early enough that ID was tough. I thought to myself - it's big for a bufflehead, but honestly I've never seen one in flight before today - and the same is true of goldeneye, ringnecks, etc. It'd been shoveler central around here for a week, so as I pulled the trigger, I actually thought that I would have another drake shoveler with even more spectacular plumage than yesterday's.

As soon as I went to pick him up, I realized it was indeed a merganser. Can anybody comment on how rare it is to see the hooded merganser here in WA - at this time of year?? Mind you this is in a creek in Moses Lake in the desert of eastern WA. I'm thinking this won't repeat itself too often...my only regret is that I didn't stamp Juliet along with Mr. Romeo. Yesterday I did for a pair of shovelers with one shot. Today, she got away. There's always tomorrow.

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10 Teal, 6 Mallard, 5 Shoveler, 4 Pintail, 3 Coot, 1 Widgeon, 1 Bufflehead, 1 Canadian Goose, 1 Hooded Merganser
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby Tealer » Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:54 pm

I see a ton, but I hunt a bunch of big water.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby billsarima » Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:15 pm

I got a female and a male today. The one bird I haven't seen in my neck of the woods is a teal this year.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby lucky ducky » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:44 pm

I have a rule. If I am not going to eat it, I do not shoot it. I broke that rule once and that was to shoot a drake hooded merganser for the purposes of having it mounted. The drake merganser has absolutely beautiful plumage.
I will still shoot them, but now its with a camera.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby h2ofowlr » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:34 pm

I see plenty of them and find many on the small ponds around the area. I have a nice drake mounted and my son shot a nice drake last weekend.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby StanwoodSpartan » Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:50 am

The only reason I will ever, and have ever shot a Hooded Merganser is for the wall. I shot a beautiful drake Hooded this year to mount for my hunting partner as a thank you and its currently sitting over at Willow Creek.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby Tealer » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:19 am

You should kill every merg you see. Bonus points for the hens.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby jedijon » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:09 am

Great - glad I didn't stamp a rare one - no worried on eating him though. I had coot tacos last night so I'm plenty stoked. It'll be getting breasted though...

This is the first season I've ever hunted. That means everything has that nice shiny new snow patina of awesomeness to it, including eating 'em. I can say that I've had duck from the grocery store...and I've more recently raised them for the table from my very own backyard. But this is an even newer experience for me.

The tacos were pretty dope. Each species I kill I make sure to pluck it and prepare the whole carcass. That way I know the flavor as well as the wing cadence :)

Okay - so Coot. I had prepped it whole but didn't like the mud/sewage/dry algae flavor in the skin and fat. This time the coot breasts got seared along with the innards I've been collecting over the past week. Duck heart and liver is a good taco too! They were very very very good.

Why do I mention coot, well - it sounds like mergansers aren't as rare as I feared, but although I'm not WASTING it...I still have some trepidation about the table quality. I'll be breasting it and searing it and probably placing it in a dish/heavier flavors instead of letting it stand alone as the meal's showpiece. That's because I'd like to gauge the inherent fishiness of the meat first and maybe if I bag another after first vetting it. After all, if just removing the skin/fat can make such a profound difference in the coot [which admittedly wasn't bad...just not what I'd prefer], then maybe here also?? Or, maybe it's so a superabundance of uses in its original state? Heck, that Pho isn't going to make itself...com'on'save'me'on'the'fish sauce...or dashi!

Haven't eaten the bufflehead yet either. I'm off to taste some 'fishy business'...
10 Teal, 6 Mallard, 5 Shoveler, 4 Pintail, 3 Coot, 1 Widgeon, 1 Bufflehead, 1 Canadian Goose, 1 Hooded Merganser
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby somethinsmellsfishy » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:10 pm

jedijon wrote:Great - glad I didn't stamp a rare one - no worried on eating him though. I had coot tacos last night so I'm plenty stoked. It'll be getting breasted though...

This is the first season I've ever hunted. That means everything has that nice shiny new snow patina of awesomeness to it, including eating 'em. I can say that I've had duck from the grocery store...and I've more recently raised them for the table from my very own backyard. But this is an even newer experience for me.

The tacos were pretty dope. Each species I kill I make sure to pluck it and prepare the whole carcass. That way I know the flavor as well as the wing cadence :)

Okay - so Coot. I had prepped it whole but didn't like the mud/sewage/dry algae flavor in the skin and fat. This time the coot breasts got seared along with the innards I've been collecting over the past week. Duck heart and liver is a good taco too! They were very very very good.

Why do I mention coot, well - it sounds like mergansers aren't as rare as I feared, but although I'm not WASTING it...I still have some trepidation about the table quality. I'll be breasting it and searing it and probably placing it in a dish/heavier flavors instead of letting it stand alone as the meal's showpiece. That's because I'd like to gauge the inherent fishiness of the meat first and maybe if I bag another after first vetting it. After all, if just removing the skin/fat can make such a profound difference in the coot [which admittedly wasn't bad...just not what I'd prefer], then maybe here also?? Or, maybe it's so a superabundance of uses in its original state? Heck, that Pho isn't going to make itself...com'on'save'me'on'the'fish sauce...or dashi!

Haven't eaten the bufflehead yet either. I'm off to taste some 'fishy business'...


Hey now, I resemble that remark!

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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby billsarima » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:16 pm

Saw two more this morning. Just wouldn't come in.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby Tealer » Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:22 pm

Try merg decoys.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby Hntrspud » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:17 pm

They are a beautiful bird that is for sure! Very well done. Only see a few here and there myself, buddy of mine missed a mountable Hooded last week. :no: Could tell it was a fully plummed bird at 40 yards, if that gives you an idea of this drake. I have never shot a hooded one yet. But it is one of my bucket list mounts.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby billsarima » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:17 pm

Hntrspud wrote:They are a beautiful bird that is for sure! Very well done. Only see a few here and there myself, buddy of mine missed a mountable Hooded last week. :no: Could tell it was a fully plummed bird at 40 yards, if that gives you an idea of this drake. I have never shot a hooded one yet. But it is one of my bucket list mounts.


I've shot a few nice hooded merganzer's but never really wanted to mount one. Can someone post a few pics of mounted merg's so I can see how they look.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby washingtonmuley » Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:28 pm

billsarima wrote:
Hntrspud wrote:They are a beautiful bird that is for sure! Very well done. Only see a few here and there myself, buddy of mine missed a mountable Hooded last week. :no: Could tell it was a fully plummed bird at 40 yards, if that gives you an idea of this drake. I have never shot a hooded one yet. But it is one of my bucket list mounts.


I've shot a few nice hooded merganzer's but never really wanted to mount one. Can someone post a few pics of mounted merg's so I can see how they look.

Take a peek here and you will see plenty of Hoody mounts. http://www.birdmanstudios.com/
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby joepalouse » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:39 pm

Buffleheads aren't bad - they're like catching bluegill: lots of fun but a small fillet for the effort. Tasty enough though. And sometimes they're all you get.
I used to shun coots too but this season started so poorly that i shot a couple just to give the dog something to fetch - she has to have fun too y'know. Anyhow i found some recipes for coots including an old WDFW article from the 1940's. It suggests skinning them completely and marinating the meat in milk overnight. Well for me as long as I skin them out to get rid of fishy/muddy fat, I marinate in a little beer, worstershire sauce and creole seasoning and use it for stir fry, burritos, or whatever. Works fine. Cajuns call them "Pol dIeau" or water hens - no that's not like "dog doo" darnit. But anything you can shoot 25 a day of must be meant to get et. Some folks grind them with pork and make sausage - even "cooteroni". True, they aren't much of a challenge to shoot and I'd not waste "black Cloud", etc high end shells - but when you're dog jumps out of the boat after them from pure boredom, what else can you do? don't wast em is what. I suspect even merganser can be decent vittles if its fixed right.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby TomKat » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:44 pm

We all make mistakes

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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby jedijon » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:21 am

Merganser was breasted - good stuff. Easily held its own alongside some roasted birds, teal/shoveler/buff. Buffelhead the best of the class, honestly, merganser right behind it. Roasted teal pretty good, shoveler [plucked like all except the merg] - a little muddy and not as nice.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby ScaupHunter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:08 pm

When puddlers are slow we run up some local rivers, set up at a choke point in a bend and get busy saving a few thousand salmon smolt. Done right your shooting them at about 10 to 15 yards. The dogs love retrieving them and if you don't like the taste, just put them in duckeroni.
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby Mill pond » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:24 pm

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Had this one mounted!


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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby billsarima » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:31 pm

Nice mount!!!!
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Re: To shoot - a Merganser

Postby AnonymousDuck » Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:19 pm

I will not shoot a Common Merganser unless its an accident. I hate those stinky nasty things and they're "not" table worthy! Greater Hooded Mergansers dress out like any other duck, but I haven't tried the couple I shot. I thought for sure they where Buffy's given the amount of them I had seen that morning and the two did a flyby at 100 mph so I smacked them. I figured I would breast them out and see, worst case situation if the first one was like a Common, I could freeze it and use it as a training add for the dog. Didn't seem any different than a Buffy to me so I breasted both.
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