Game know-how

The wigeon


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The wigeon has a beautiful chestnut brown neck, which is why in Denmark it is also known as ‘brunnakken’ – or brown neck.

It’s Latin name is Anas penelope. It is a charming, small, softly rounded duck, which hunters usually find along the coast.

The wigeon is considerably smaller than the mallard, and weighs 500-1,000 g. It has a wingspan of 80 cm, and a body length of approx. 50 cm. The wigeon can usually be found on salt meadows and in shallow inlets, where they graze on the land and grub for eelgrass in the water.

The wigeon breeds in northern Scandinavia, in Iceland and in the northernmost parts of Asia. In Denmark it is a rare breeding bird, but it can be seen in large numbers in the autumn when it migrates to northern Africa. The wigeon is by no means an endangered species, as its total population is estimated at about 3 million birds.


Subdued colours

When you are hunting for migratory birds along the coast, you often hear the wigeon make its distinctive, haunting call. The head of the male is chestnut brown, with a distinctive bold yellow forehead, a light-blue bill with a black tip and a pink breast.

Its back is a delicate, silver-grey colour, and bold white patches can be seen on the upper wings when flying. Like many other ducks, the female has a more subdued rust-brown plumage, which provides excellent camouflage when she is nesting.


Best time for shooting wigeons?

October is the peak season for hunting wigeon, but they can often be found as early as September depending on the weather in the breeding grounds. If the winter is mild in Denmark, many wigeon will overwinter here, in which case they can be found throughout the entire hunting season.

It is a rare guest at small watering holes inland, but can on the other hand be seen in large numbers at shallow coastal areas, for example at Vejlerne near the Limfjord in north-western Jutland. The saying goes that windy weather is duck weather, so when the waves show their teeth and the wind sings in the rigging, there is a good chance of bagging wigeon.

Hunting – what you need

Hunting for wigeon is synonymous with inshore shooting. In other words, you lie down in a salt meadow and wait for the migrating birds to fly past. Wigeon always migrate in the opposite direction to many other ducks.

Therefore, you can easily spend the morning hunting for them. If there are any wigeon nearby, you will undoubtedly hear their characteristic calls.

A quick size 3 cartridge is ideal. You should never underestimate the thickness of a duck’s skin, so a large shot size is a good idea.

A retriever is also necessary, and if it is a boggy area, waders as well. Salt meadows are often characterised by being flat with little possibility for concealment, so the lower down you can lie the better, and it will be a long day if you get wet.

You might also want to use a camouflage net to cover both yourself and your dog, so you blend in better with your surroundings. If you are very close to the water, it is a good idea to use decoys and duck calls.


Hunting season: 1 September to 31 December, and 1 January to 31 January in the Danish fishing waters.
Size of kill: Approx. 40,000 a year.
High season: October/November.
For the cook: Allow at least one wigeon per person. Some people don’t like the taste which comes from the skin and the fat of the wigeon, but you could always use the breast fillets to prepare some delicate little steaks instead.

Wigeon whistling:

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