It seems that each year I get a few ducks that aren't quite what they appear to be once I have them in hand. This hen Mallard is just one of those.
From her initial jump when Jet and I crested the top of the dike she seemed a strong healthy bird. It was after we returned to the cabin and had brunch when I began processing (cleaning) my mornings harvest. I typically begin plucking the wings out to the first joint and then pluck the body. Well as you can see from the picture this duck had a golf ball size tumor on her upper left breast. It was very firm and not mobile at all. There were no signs of a previous wound, no gang green and from all appearances seemed to be an internal issue. I was reluctant to finish dressing her out and decided best to leave her in the field. I don't like not being able to eat what I kill, yet this time it seemed to be the prudent decision. I thought about taking her to Fish and Game on my way home, but I forgot to put her in the freezer and by the next day, it was to late. She was not an overly robust hen Mallard like some are with a nice fat layer under a corn colored skin. I suspect she was last years hatch since she is void of pin feathers(2007) and just didn't have the ability to bulk up like some Mallards can and do. So she went to the Magpies in the end and I was sorry to have seen her end up that way. It wasn't my first choice that's for sure. Not knowing what the tumor was, it was not worth the risk to my own health.
Over the years I have shot ducks and geese that had been previously shot and showed a greenish tint or color to their skin around the wound. Definitely gangrene and in most of those cases I have cut out the affected area and eaten the birds with no ill affects what so ever. This was just not one of those cases.
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt