You Bagged a Gobbler! Now What?

Turkey Hunting
Turkey Hunting
U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance

Columbus, OH –-( After many months of scouting, planning (and irritating all around you with your calling practice) and many early mornings, your dedication has paid off with you bagging your first…or possibly second…wild turkey of the season.

But now that you have that trophy gobbler (all are of course), many of you are thinking and asking…what do I now?

How do I make sure that tasty meat makes it to the dinner table?

Wild turkeys are large birds, meaning a lot of meat – two to four pounds of breast meat on average alone.  Sportsmen sometimes choose to eat the entire bird, or just the breast meat, either can be very tasty!

However, before you skin or pluck the bird, don’t forget that you may want to preserve the tail feathers, beard or legs to remember your kill.

How to remove tail feathers, beard and legs:

  • 1.      Cut from below the fan. Make sure to keep a meaty portion of the tail because this aids in the drying of the tail feathers.  Spread the fan out and pin the last two feathers on either side to a piece of cardboard to help dry faster.
  • 2.      Cut the beard as close to the breast bone as possible. You can feel the end of the beard, making it easy to remove. Don’t cut the beard too short! It can be used for bragging rights!
  • 3.      To remove the legs to show off those spurs, use a knife to cut around the first joint in the leg. Repeat on both legs.


Now on to the tasty part…how do I get to the meat?


How to pluck a bird:

Plucking a wild turkey’s feathers is typically only done when you plan on roasting or frying the entire bird with skin intact.

  • 1.      Cut the bird open below the ribs and remove all entrails.
  • 2.      Dunk the bird in a bucket filled two-thirds of the way with hot water. Leave the bird submerged for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • 3.      Remove from hot water and begin gently plucking all feathers.
  • 4.      Take your time so as not to damage or remove the skin because it serves as an important part of the roasted or deep fried bird.


How to skin and breast a bird:

  • 1.      Lay the bird on its back with his head away from you.
  • 2.      Use your fingers to pinch a small portion of skin and feathers and pull up slightly so you can use your knife to make a slit in the skin.
  • 3.      Using two fingers from each hand, insert into the slit and pull in opposing directions to tear skin away to expose the breast meat. Continue pulling until you have exposed all of the breast meat.
  • 4.      Use your knife to cut the breast meat out by cutting around the breast bone. Fillet one side at a time.


To help preserve the breast meat, we suggest vacuum sealing any meat you cut from the wild turkey.  Our friends at FoodSaver offer specific GameSaver units that are affordable and reliable for vacuum sealing all of your wild game!  For more tips on how to preserve or skin your bird, visit the experts at NWTF.

That’s all there is too it! Practice makes perfect, so we encourage you to take full advantage of the turkey hunting season.  And don’t forget to check out USSA’s Top 10 Wild Turkey recipes for mouth-watering ways to prepare your gobbler.

About:The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. Visit