What began as a side hustle for a handful of childhood friends and college buddies has grown into a nine-year-old top-shelf hunting lodge in a far-less-traveled chunk of Southern duck country. Mallard Estates Outfitter sprawls over more than five thousand acres of private West Tennessee farmland bordering the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge. When the weather cooperates, the mallard flights are epic.
The property is the family farm of Blake McWilliams, who manages to raise corn and soybeans and keep irrigation pivots running while guiding hunters after ducks, geese, wild turkeys, and deer. During fall and winter, the operation winds up with a lot of waterfowl meat, so McWilliams came up with the idea to grind the duck meat and use it in a patty melt gone wild. “People come to a high-end lodge, and they don’t want a straight-up cheeseburger,” he says. “Well, this is a little bit different.”
McWilliams likes a fifty-fifty blend of duck and brisket for the patty, and he suggests grinding the brisket untrimmed to add a dose of needed fat to the lean wild duck. The homemade sauce, with its slight kick of sriracha, is a must-have addition, but there’s plenty of wiggle room to put a personal spin on the sandwich. Swap out the cheddar for provolone or Swiss. Ditch the dill pickle and add banana peppers. Just stay true to the duck and brisket mix, and you’ll have an off-the-charts lunch.