With Thanksgiving slowly approaching, many hunters are seeking out wild turkeys. Turkeys have been hunted for thousands of years and they aren’t an easy catch. If you are a new hunter that is lucky enough to catch a turkey this season, it’s important to know how to clean and cook the turkey properly. Although many people have different methods to their turkey hunting, it can be simplified for new hunters.
Right after you shoot your turkey, you must begin the cleaning and field dressing process. It is vital that you remove any organs and intestines in order to keep the bird’s meat from spoiling if you are intending to eat it. If you are able, pluck the feathers of the bird before doing this so the feathers don’t inside of the bird. In order to gut the turkey, it is easiest to lay the turkey on its back. Hold the beard of the turkey as close to the body as possible, pull it away from the breast, and cut it off. Do your best to leave some skin around the base of the bead in order to hold it together.
If you are hoping to just get the breast of the turkey, use both hands to push on the thighs of the turkey. This will make it easier to cut the breast out. Cut just the skin of the breast directly down the center. You should be able to pull the skin back on each side to expose the breast if you do this correctly. The breast should come out in two pieces. When cutting it out, get as close to the bone as possible so no meat is wasted. Wash the meat and wrap properly (using freezer wrap or vacuum wrap) and freeze until you are ready to eat. If you are looking to eat the turkey as a whole which is typical for Thanksgiving dinners, skin the turkey, cut off the head and feet, and clean out the intestinal cavity.
Another simple way to clean a turkey is to use a large pot of boiling water at about 140 degrees. Find a pot large enough to hold an entire turkey. (This can be challenging depending on the size of the turkey!) When the water reaches a boil, dip the entire turkey in the pot. This will make the feathers much easier to pluck. Most turkeys have over 5,000 feathers which can make the plucking process lengthy and difficult. After you pluck the feathers, cut the birds head and legs off at the joint, and finish by cleaning the intestinal cavity out.
Hunting a turkey is a difficult but rewarding process. If you are a new hunter that caught a turkey this season, congratulations from Lawrence Bay Lodge.