Sticky Turkey cleaning


Old Mossy Horns
I'm curious, after you kill a turkey how fast do you need to have it cleaned? I mean it's pretty warm some days this time of year and if you killed one in the morning can ya wait till that afternoon to clean it or will the meat go bad?

Also what's the easiest way to clean a turkey?


Floyd the Barber
Rem, I like to clean mine as quick as time will allow. I don't think I'd wait until the afternoon. If you did have to wait remove the intestines and put it in a cooler with an ice bag on top of it/ on the breast. I bought me a big pack of rubber gloves at the local auto parts store and in the past few years have worn a pair for deer, turkey or whatever.

I generally eat the breast meat only. This method is used for removing the breast meat. I tried the meat off the drum sticks one time but found it rather tough. I've seen some great recipes on here though where some guys have used the drum stick meat in soups and stews.

The way I clean mine is,,, Cut just above the vent hole to just above the big breast bone a couple of inches. The breast bone area is the small 50 cent piece sized area that looks to have no feathers on it, kind of a little bald spot. I try to make a straight up or down cut from the two points I mentioned. With a still warm bird you can work the skin away from the meat fairly easy with just your hands, the resistance is about like skinning a rabbit. If your not mounting it you can get more aggressive and tear some skin if you have too. Once I got the skin peeled back as far as I can with my hands I use the knife to do the rest. I then cut down through the meat on each side of the "dividing bone" or "ridge" that separates each breast piece. Be carefully and try not to puncture anything behind the breast meat. I just don't want my knife touching anything that could spoil the meat like guts or the crawl areas. Work each breast piece off slowly and try to get all the meat off as possible. I usually end up with two pieces of breast meat and two tenderloins this way. Most of the time I cut the meat up in small gibblets to fry for eating. When the meat is cleaned up before discarding the bird I take a peak inside the crawl just out of curiosity to see what its been eating. You'd be amazed some times. I don't keep the tail fans, spurs or beards anymore and end up chunking them, save them if you want to make something out of them though, several great post have been on here too for preserving them. I'm sure others will have some methods also but I hope I may have helped a little!

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Old Mossy Horns
This is the way I clean all turkeys and usually am done in about 10 minutes.

I fillet everything usable out. I save the wings for wingbone calls and save the legs as you can dry them in any ole configuration or cut the spurs off and add to your wingbone lanyard.
So let’s get started. I use the smallest Rapala fillet knife and it must be SHARP!

Turn bird on its back as seen in this picture below

The first thing I do is remove he beard.

First thing is to grab the beard and pull so you expose the skin as seen.

Pulled out a bit further – don’t worry you won’t rip it off!


Old Mossy Horns
Now in the white exposed area feel with your fingers and you will feel where the base root of the beard stops – cut past there and don’t be worried if you take to much skin – You can trim it off later.
This photo I started my cut…..

Here it is totally off….

Set it aside we will deal with it later.

With the bird still on its back feel down the breast until you feel the soft part of the gut cavity. We will make a small cut there just through the skin – NOT into the gut cavity. This done right you will not expose guts.

Next stick your fingers between the muscle an skin to open it up a bit and continue to expose the breast meat. If the skin starts to stick lightly use your fillet knife as if you are taking the skin off a fish. Again a sharp knife is a must!
It will end up like this

Next thing I do is remove the wings….I save those for wingbone calls. Even broke a bit there are bones still usable.

Take off at the joint next to the body – If you want a traditional looking turkey take off at the second joint. Mine are taken off at the body.


Next I take the feet off at the knuckle of the drumstick. Cut all the way around the leg through the back tendon and twist. The leg will pop right off – may take a bit of cutting to cut the remaining tendon. Set aside for now.


Old Mossy Horns

You have the breast exposed – Now take and peel back the skin on the legs until you have the bird looking like this. I save leg meat for soups, and sandwiches….and the Drumstick bone makes a very good 2 bone mouth call and a very nice pot striker!


Old Mossy Horns
Once you have the skin away the air sac is exposed.


I trim carefully – and pull a bit to removed this like shown.

Though a bit wet – my hands are not real messy!

Now I start taking off one breast at a time.

You can see the white line of the breast or keel bone. I cut going down along that keel bone and follow the wishbone in front and then trim back. I lift this flap of meat and cut forward along the rib cage using the fillet knife. Just like filleting around a fishes rib cage. I do this until I reach the wing joint and then cut the fillet free
It will look like this

After I have removed both sides of the breast I tackle the thighs.
Take the legs and push flat – you hear a pop as the leg bone comes out of the socket.


Old Mossy Horns
Next start at the top and cut along the body. I f you are going to get any blood on you it is here as you cut the leg arteries. So be careful. Done right your hands are really clean.



On the thigh and leg cut around the drumstick knuckle between he thigh and drum and you can bend it nicely to fit in a gallon plastic bag. I put all in plastic Zip-Loc bags and cool immediately. Once at home I do wash and trim any thin film of skin off and then freeze in a new bag.

The wings can be boiled and all feathers taken off. I will post how to make wingbone calls later.

The beard I place skin side down in a cup of Borax for about a month. I then add it to the shot shell casing I used to kill this bird.

Hope this is helpfull


Old Mossy Horns
its just bits and peices i pick up and save from the net that i know people will get good use from. Heck i even ask the person who created it if i can steal it to post elsewhere most of the time


Twelve Pointer
I would like to add that you can get meat from the wing and back that grinds well. I typically grind the leg, thigh, wing, and back meat all together for tacos, chili, etc.


Old Mossy Horns
Gut the bird then cool it down to 40 or cooler. Let is set for 24-48 hours until rigor mortis is gone otherwise it will be tough.


Dobber, I'm new to the forum and have been going through some of the older threads. Great one from you on how to de-bone a turkey.


Old Mossy Horns
10-4 great pics and guide.

I do mine pretty much the same but once I have the legs, breast I venture inside and grab the heart, liver and gizzard. Grab the gizzard and cut around. Dump out the rocks and food particles and pull the dull yellow lining from inside the gizzard off.

Now the legs, neck, gizzard, heart and liver are ready for the crock pot. Little salt, pepper and some of your favorite fresh herbs and let it sit for 8 hours. Fit for a king. Add a nice pot of rice and hot biscuits.



Great walk through and advice, its people like this that make this such an amazing sport, and why this is such an amazing forum.


Twelve Pointer
Did you know

The turkeys beard is more like a feather than a beard. You can firmly grasp the beard and pull it strait out. The base will pop out of the skin like a feather. It will be hard on the end similar to a quill on a feather, no need for salt or borax. Just trim the hull away about 1\4 inch above the brass on your shotgun shell, leaving a small ring of color just before the brass starts, and take a nail and remove the SPENT pirmer. Take about eight inches of a rawhide shoe lace and insert the ends into the primer hole from the back. Fill the brass almost half way up with epoxy and insert the beard. Hold strait until glue sets.


I had always been eager to try and pluck a bird to roast or fry whole. My attempts over the past 5 years were quickly thorted by extremely difficult to pluck gobblers. I'd pluck a few feathers, tear some skin, and give up. Last year I set out to take a jake (after I shot my tom of course!) to see if plucking a younger bird would be any easier. After killing him I aged him in a cooler for 24 hrs. I did this more out of necessity b/c I had to get to work that morning. Hanging game birds to 'age' is a common it if you're curious. I'm not convinced the 'aging' helped with the plucking, but when I set to pluck that jake it was pretty damn easy! After cleaning him up I wrapped up the 'giblets' and stuffed them inside his gut cavity, then wrapped him in freezer paper, and froze to be eaten later. 4 months later that day came. I thawed him out, and placed the whole bird in a brine solution for 24 hrs. This makes sure the meat is seasoned well, and stays moist. Baked him for a get together with friends the next day, and I must say, the entire bird, along with the giblet gravy, was outstanding. Give it a try if you happen to luck into a jake this year!


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Ten Pointer
Excellent instructions this post should remain on the turkey link for a refresher course
Thanks again