Arkansas: Gumbo a Great Way to Serve Up the Season’s Game

Cooking up this seasons catch
Cooking up this seasons catch
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Arkansas-( Gumbo a great way to serve up the season’s game STUTTGART – With hunters facing the final weekend of the regular waterfowl season, many are left with scores of plucked mallards, gadwalls and other ducks that have yet to be enjoyed.

Many old jokes revolve around the perfect recipe for duck or goose involving tossing the meat and drinking the marinade, and many hunters will give away their game to friends, fellow hunters and family, thinking the meat less desirable than other options. But when prepared properly, duck and goose can be downright delicious. The real secret is never cooking the meat past rare or slow cooking it in a crock pot or smoker. Gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun concoctions are a third option, one that has taken root in Stuttgart’s annual Wings Over the Prairie Festival.

The 2015 winning team hails from Drake’s Landing, a 91-year-old hunting club in Arkansas County. With 25 years in the competition, including three wins for best gumbo, they agreed to share one of their winning recipes. Team members Stephen Harris of Benton, and Kyle Browning of Pine Bluff are the chief cooks, while another member, Kelly Box is in charge of booth design (almost as important as the food at the Duck Gumbo competition). This recipe was featured with an in-depth write-up in the November/December 2016 issue of Arkansas Wildlife magazine, the official magazine of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. To learn more about Arkansas Wildlife and how to subscribe, visit

Drakes Landing Gumbo


  • 6-8 large ducks, smoked, boiled in reserve and deboned
  • 6 white onions, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 pounds andouille, sliced
  • 2 pounds peeled crayfish, washed
  • 2 cups flour, 1 cup bacon grease
  • 1/3 cup Slap Ya Mama seasoning
  • White rice


  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 white onions, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup peppercorns
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup Slap Ya Mama seasoning
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire
  • 1 ½ tablespoons thyme
  • ½ tablespoon ground cayenne pepper, optional

Smoke ducks over low heat and heavy smoke (pecan or hickory wood) for 1½ hours or until meat is rare. In a large pot, place ducks with all the reserve ingredients, cover ducks with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until duck legs begin to separate. Remove ducks and allow them to cool; debone. Drain liquid, straining solids. Allow liquid to cool. Save 1½ gallons of reserve for gumbo.

Gumbo a great way to serve up the season’s game
Gumbo a great way to serve up the season’s game

Gumbo: Separate chopped vegetables into halves. Take about half a gallon of reserve and warm over medium heat (do not boil) in a large pot. To make roux, combine flour and bacon grease in large cast-iron skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until reaching a dark brown color.

Remove from heat; add half the vegetables and seasoning, and stir 3-4 minutes. As pan cools, let vegetables sit about 20 minutes. Whisk roux/vegetable mixture into warm reserve, stirring constantly. After blending the roux mixture, add remaining ingredients and leftover reserve to reach desired thickness. Bring pot to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer 2 hours. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Serve over rice.

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