Gone Outdoors

How to Clean a Wild Turkey

by April Ort

Bagging a wild turkey can be more than exhilarating; however, that rush of adrenaline can come crashing down when it's time to clean the large fowl. Don't let the process intimidate you, because with a few simple-to-follow instructions, you can have that bird prepped, plucked and plump for the cooking in no time.

Boil a large pot of water for dipping the bird.

Hold the turkey by the feet and dip the entire bird into pot of boiling water. This will make it easier to remove the feathers, which should be done prior to clearing the body cavity to prevent contamination.

Lift the turkey from the water and lay it down on a work surface. Pluck out the feathers by pulling them with your fingers.

Lay the turkey on its back and begin the cleaning process.

Find the bottom of the breast bone and insert a sharp knife. Cut downward until you reach the anus.

Reach into the body cavity and grab hold of the intestines with one hand. Use your free hand to cut around the anus, allowing the intestines to be completely removed.

Locate the gizzard and remove it. Reach back inside the body cavity to remove the windpipe along with the heart, liver and lungs.

Clutch the top of the beard with your hand. Pull the beard away from the body and cut it with a sharp knife.

Cut off the head and the legs (at the joints) by using a hatchet or very sharp knife. The bird will then be ready for cooking.

Items you will need
  • Gloves
  • Sharp knife
  • Large pot
  • Water
  • Stove

Tips

  • Save the neck and gizzard for homemade gravy.
  • Keep a wild turkey carcass cool for up to several days in warm weather by filling the body cavity with ice.

Warning

  • Remove the entrails within one hour of killing a turkey with a bow. This is called field dressing and will prevent the poultry from being contaminated with feces.

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