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Marsh Hen Hunting: Tips and Recipes

A Guide to Marsh Hen Hunting

Marsh Hen Hunting for the tidal bird yields delicious breast perfect for all marsh hen recipes!

September on the east coast means the migration of a lesser known game bird, the Marsh Hen.  These birds live year-round from Texas to the Carolinas but some migrate as far as New Jersey in the spring to nest in the marshes.  These birds are specifically located in saltwater marshes in the tidal grass.  They very seldom venture inland or to fresh water.  Marsh hens are a 15 to 20-inch brown bird with a curved bill.  Marsh hens live on large tidal grass flats with small creeks that flood out during high tide.  The feed on snails and small invertebrates in the grass beds.

David Cannon Photography Marsh Hen

Marsh Hen Flying In The Salt Marsh By David Cannon Photography

Hunters and sports shooters bust out their polling platforms in September depending on season dates and try their hand at some fast action marsh hen hunting.  The full moon of the fall brings some great flood tides which allow hunters to get back where the Marsh Hens live.  During high tide, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and poling boats are able to get out of the creeks and rivers and back onto the flats.  Check out your local tide chart to see when the flood tides are to provide the best marsh hen hunting opportunities.  The game birds will sit on reed piles and grass clumps during super high tides and will be easy to spot at a distance.  Once spotted you cannot use a motor to get them but you must be fast in order to keep them from getting away.  Marsh Hens dive, swim, run, and fly in order to escape.  When you get close enough the Marsh Hen will get up and fly allowing for a quail-like shot with a shotgun.  I prefer using a smaller shot in order not to destroy the meat due to the size of the bird.  For the more sporting outdoors person try using a bow fishing rig or a bow to shoot them.  Especially when they are plentiful.  

Winyah Guide service for marsh hen

Winyah Guide Service Marsh Hen Hunting

While hunting you may hear the Marsh Hen cackle.  It's a very shrill Ca-Ca-Ca-Ca-ca-ca-ca.  They will call at any loud noises or when they are trying to find mates.  Tip- if you yell or bang a paddle on the boat they will call and give up their location.  Most hens have a decent table fare, but for some reason the closer the bird lives to the ocean the better that bird tastes when eating.  I believe its due to the consistency of the water, mud, and sand that they are feeding in.  

So attention waterfowl hunters,  If the teal ain’t flying, the geese have been shot up and you want to do a little cast and blast, get out and pole around with a fishing pole and a 20 gauge.  Cast at the tailing reds and shoot the the birds as they flush.  

 Bacon Wrapped Marsh Hen Stuffed with Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Bacon wrapped marsh hen with jalapeno cream cheese stuffing.

Marsh Hen Recipe: The Delicious Bacon Wrapped Marsh Hen Stuffed Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Ingredients for Marsh Hen Recipe:

  • 2 Marsh hen breasts
  • 4 Jalapenos
  • 1 Stick of cream cheese
  • 1% Milk
  • Italian dressing
  • Bacon
  • Toothpicks

Preparation for Marsh Hen Recipe:

  • De-breast the meat and soak in milk for 1 day
  • Drain milk and soak in Italian dressing for 2 days
  • Roll breasts around fresh jalapenos and cream cheese 
  • Wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick
  • Place in oven or on the grill 

If you have and questions, comments, or concerns please leave them below in the comment section or email us at At Hunting and Fishing Depot we hope everyone will gain some knowledge on marsh hen hunting and come away with a delicious marsh hen recipe.

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Jade - June 10, 2023

Is it legal to hunt marsh hens in Louisiana? If so, when is the season open?

W.M. Dashe - June 10, 2023

I’m Geechee and we’ve been eating Marsh ( mash) hen since I could remember and I’m now 53. Good article and recipes ps stewing Dem down is good as well

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