and Fileting Your Wild Turkey
Rob Ramsdale --
Another option to the
plucking and gutting method is to skin and then filet
the bird's breast meat off and remove the legs and
thighs. This method is quick and easy and allows you
to remove the meat from the bird without even opening
up the body cavity. If you plan on roasting, smoking
or whole deep frying your turkey, you might stick
with plucking and gutting the bird since this method
does not save the skin. I generally cook my turkey
by frying or grilling pieces of turkey; using methods
that make up for not having the skin on.
Generally, the areas
I hunt are only about a half hour or less from my
home so I never worry about field dressing the turkey.
I just take it home and clean it immediately. I also
hunt in Kansas and the weather is typically very cool
during most of the spring and fall turkey seasons.
On one hunt during the spring, the weather changed
from sunny, to rain. to hail, to sleet and finally
snow. If it is warm where you are hunting and it takes
you awhile to get to a place to finish dressing the
turkey, by all means field dress it first.
- If you are saving the tail fan
or cape from the turkey, remove them first. I also
always remove the beard before starting to clean
the bird. If you are not saving the bird's cape
or tail you can leave them on and start by laying
the turkey on it's back.
- To begin removing the breast filets,
pluck some feathers from the middle of the breast
and make a small cut through the skin. Then work
your fingers underneath the skin and pull the skin
back from the breast down to the sides of the turkey.
- Find the breast bone and start
by cutting down one side of the breast bone to loosen
the breast filet from the bone. This cut will run
from the lower tip of the breast all of the way
along the breast bone and eventually up along the
wishbone and to the shoulder / wing joint..
- Start at the bottom tip of the
breast and work your way from the rear of the breast
forward, fileting off the breast by pulling the
filet and using the knife to help separate the breast
where needed. Be careful of the crop when you get
to the top of the breast. (The crop is the balloon-like
sac up between the two halves of the breast by the
neck). It is full of some nasty stuff and you don't
want to puncture it.
- Repeat this for the other side
of the breast.
- Remove the thigh/leg by flipping
the turkey over on it's breastbone and skinning
the thigh and leg.
- After they are skinned, cut through
the thigh muscle where it attaches to the back.
To help this process, grab the leg/thigh and bend
them up towards the backbone until the joint pops
loose. Keep working and cutting through the thigh
until you can free the thigh/leg from the turkey's
body. Repeat for the other side. I usually then
cut through the leg joint and separate the drumstick
from the thigh. Wild turkey drumsticks are notoriously
tough when you cook them. They also have tons of
tiny, tough, bone-like tendons running through them.
The only way I've found to make them edible is to
cook them for a long time in a crockpot and sometimes
on an old gobbler this doesn't even work.
I hope these methods
will help you enjoy your turkey.