Spend any time at all on the internet, Facebook groups in particular, and this is the question you will see frequently (second only to “anyone seen any ducks in insert spot name here“) . . . A picture of a duck or goose, maybe banded, maybe a trophy.
Then, you’ll see 4 trillion comments – everything from “if it’s a trophy to you, mount it” to “here’s a canvasback pintail hybrid I killed last year that’s prettier than your duck” to “I wouldn’t mount it.”
We’ve decided to pull together the definitive list, an answer at last to that age old question, “should I mount it?”
Was it someone’s first duck?
Yes – if the answer to this is yes, and the duck has some resemblance to still being a duck (i.e. A head, bill, two wings and some feather), and you have the cash, hell yeah – mount it! You only kill a first duck once; the second duck will taste similar to the first one, but won’t have the same story when it’s on the wall.
No – It wasn’t someone’s first duck.
Okay. Next Question. Is there something special about this bird?
Yes – It was my first with a band. My first wood duck. My first goose. The last duck I shot over my Lab on her last hunt. An amazing shot.
Also falling under this heading is first of a species. Always wanted a Pintail and finally bagged one? Special bird. Chased Black Ducks for years and finally got one in the blind? Put him on the wall.
All of these are very valid reasons to get the bird mounted. You may proceed.
No – There’s nothing special about this bird. Except the plumage.
Okay. Next question. How is the plumage?
Great – Bright red head, bright grey – if your redhead resembles this, then by all means mount it.
Spectacular iridescence, bright colors, curls and sprigs and all the stuff you’d see when you look at a duck stamp . . . If your duck looks like it belongs in the Smithsonian, it needs to be mounted. Put it on the wall.
Decent – grey area here. It’s not your first bluewing teal, but it is the first drake you’ve killed not in eclipse plumage. This is the trickiest part of the equation. He’s your first “real” drake BWT? Mount him. Not really? Hold off for a full crescent.
Decent plumage is usually only acceptable in the aforementioned scenario – a first duck, a first of a species. If you really want one on the wall, hold off for a true trophy. The only exception to this is a scenario where you may not be able to upgrade the drake (Fulvous Whistling ducks come to mind in the south) . . . If the bird is rare and decent plumage, mount it.
No – not good plumage – Is it a hen?
Yes – It’s a hen – If you’re trying to mount pairs, and it’s a decent looking hen, sure, go ahead and mount it. We’ll allow it. My personal rule is only mount hens with bands, but to each his own.
No – It’s not a hen – are you lost? Are you on the wrong website?
It’s not a trophy, it’s not a first bird, or the first of a species, or banded, or special.
If you’re considering mounting this bird at this point, you need to do some serious soul searching. And/or therapy. We’re past the point where we can help you any further.
Hybrid Exemption – The hybrid exemption is allowable twice (and only twice) in every waterfowler’s career. Yes, I know you killed 4 hybrids last year. Yes, I know that ugly gray duck in your freezer is really some amalgamation of pintail and redhead and mallard and wigeon and the biologist you spoke to told you he’d never seen anything like that.
Except that NO!!! This is a trick. There is no hybrid exemption because no one has actually ever killed a hybrid. Oh sure, I know they exist, but if your hybrid doesn’t stand out as CLEARLY a blend of two species, count it as a duck, clean it, and eat it. No one that comes over to your man-cave is going to believe you killed a cinnamon teal/canvasback hybrid. Unless it’s not debatable. So that’s the hybrid exemption. If it’s undoubtedly a hybrid, mount it. If not, it’s not, don’t mount it.
There you have it. A simple step-by-step process to answer every post ever about whether or not a bird should be mounted.
We are prepared to admit that this process may change over time, and may be tweaked as we see fit.
Please help us stop this inane question the the gazillion comments that ensue by posting this simple formula anytime you see the question “Should I mount it or not” . . .
Important to note – if the person has a Duck Commander bumper sticker, you may need to read this to them.
Take responsibility. Only you can prevent bad taxidermy. Only you.