Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For October 13th, 2007 Edition.

A couple of days after the current duck season opened I realized one of my most needed duck hunting supplies were in short supply. A hurry up trip to our local supermarket, Camp’s Super Valu in St. Germain, was required to secure what I was in need of. Having roamed the isles of Camp’s old store for over 5 decades I am still somewhat at a loss to find what I’m looking for in their much larger new store and for several minutes I hunted the shelves where I imagined the merchandise I needed would be located.

Fortunately, David Weber, the general store manager and long time friend spied me wandering around with an empty grocery basket and a blank look on my face and asked if I needed help.

“Where’s the paraffin?” I asked, “I know I saw some a while back but I forgot where I saw it.” (“Senior moments” seem to occur more and more often these days.)

“Follow me”, Dave replied with a grin. “You must have got some ducks.”

I grabbed six boxes of paraffin wax and headed for the checkout register. On the way David and I chatted about why we enjoy the sport of hunting so much. We were both in agreement it’s the going and being there, out in Ma Nature’s environment bonding with her creatures and beauty that she has created that keeps us coming back for more each fall season.

Folks who are non-hunters or basically neutral on the subject often ask we die-hards what it is that keeps our interest up for hours on end even when often we return home from a hunt empty handed and have possibly not even seen the quarry we were seeking. And that’s a very difficult question to supply an answer to that will allow the person asking the question to understand where we are coming from.

David related the reasons why he can sit in the woods from daylight to dark and not be bored even if not one deer appears all day long. He, like most dedicated hunters, enjoys watching the earth come to life in the early morning hours, and then be entertained by birds, squirrels, and whatever else happens to pass by. Add to that the peacefulness and quiet of a fall or early winter forest with no traffic, phone calls or human intervention and we stay happy and contented for hours.

David related an unusual event that certainly ranks as “one in a million” that he fondly recalled. “I was sitting quietly on my deer stand when a grouse flew right at me and actually landed on my arm. It sat there for a few seconds possibly thinking I was a tree and then flew away.”

Now that’s a memory!

Finally reaching the checkout counter I set my basket of paraffin on the counter and waited for the checkout gal to give me that look I always get when I buy a batch of paraffin and nothing else. Marcia Krieck was the morning “bag lady” and being a local gal knew exactly what the paraffin was going to be used for.

“Hi Buckshot, you must have got some ducks.”

The checkout clerk looked puzzled, as do most folks when they try to connect the dots between “paraffin” and “ducks.”

And so, I began an explanation. “Paraffin wax is used to remove the down and pinfeathers from fowl, such as ducks and geese. First one must pluck off about half of the feathers, leaving some areas on the bird still somewhat covered with feathers. Cut off the ducks head, wings and one foot. Heat up a bucket of water on a propane cooker, add a few blocks of wax and allow it to melt. It’s best to do this outside or in the garage. (Doing this in your wife’s kitchen in her favorite cooking kettle is not recommended.) Fill a second bucket with cold water. After the wax melts it floats on the surface of the hot water. Hold the duck by its remaining foot and dunk it into the hot wax. I usually dunk each bird twice and then plunge it into the bucket of cold water. In about 10 minutes the wax is solid and can easily be removed from the body of the duck and the remaining feathers, down and pinfeathers stick to the wax leaving you with a duck with ultra-clean skin!”

To recycle the used paraffin simply toss the used wax back in the hot water bucket, re-heat it until all the wax is once again liquid. Cover the top of another bucket with ½ inch metal hardware cloth and strain the mixture of water, wax and pinfeathers. Toss away the pinfeathers, wait till the wax hardens, remove it, dump out the dirty water and the paraffin can be used over and over.

Today many waterfowl hunters, as well as upland bird hunters, only save the breast meat from their birds. This is a simple task compared to what is required to save the entire edible portions of the bird. But for me, it’s worth the extra time and effort.

Part of me still remembers the good old days when everything, which was harvested, that was edible was consumed. To waste game was considered sinful and generally every morsel was eaten due to necessity. How many times did I hear grandma or my folks say, “waste not, wont not.”

Personally, I feel the most tasty portions of ducks, geese and upland game birds are everything except the breast. Another old saying supports my opinion. “The closer the bone the sweeter the meat.”

Well, I finally made it home from my shopping trip, took care of the chore that needed to be taken care of and as I pen this article have a double brace of mallards soaking in cold salt water. Oh, that’s one more trick as to how to greatly improve the taste of wild game, such as birds, rabbits and squirrels. After they are cleaned and rinsed dissolve a good-sized hand full of pickling salt in a plastic bucket and soak the game for about 8 to 12 hours. Rinse again and either cook or freeze. When eaten you’ll surely say, “Ohhhh, it’s sooooo good!”

Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin.   Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean,  both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide.   Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email:  or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.

Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here

Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger

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