How to Field Dress a Turkey

One of the key components of the field-to-table process involves proper care of wild game meat. Find out how to easily and properly break down a turkey for the dinner table.

How to Field Dress a Turkey

After a successful turkey hunt, properly field-dressing the bird results in better meat for the dinner table. (Photo: Screenshot/Alabama DCNR)

One of the key components of the field-to-table process involves proper care of wild game meat.

Far too many people who claim the meat "is gamey" often have failed to prepare it properly. Getting the animal from the field, cooled and then broken down for aging or further prep is paramount to having better table fare.

You don't need a skinning shed to get the job done. If you have one or want to hang the bird, cool. Whatever works best for you. I've hunted with guys who yanked the guts in the field, took the bird back home in a cooler, tossed it in the back of their pickup, and did all the cleaning on their tailgate. Different strokes, different folks.

One thing that irks me is wasting the meat on the thighs and legs. You hear guys say, "Eh, those legs are stringy and it's a pain in the butt." C'mon, don't be lazy. It's not cool to waste game meat just because you can. Take out the breast, wings, thighs and legs, or pluck the bird and keep the skin on. Don't forget the heart, liver and gizzard, too, if you plan to fire up the grill. Those are tasty bits.

What do you need? A sharp knife works well and some kitchen shears or wirecutters are good for snipping tendons. If you're doing the cleaning in the field, have a cooler with ice in the truck and maybe some gallon-sized resealable plastic bags. Plan ahead.

If you're doing field prep, be sure to follow your state regulations and laws about tagging, checking and leaving anything intact to show the sex. You don't need to get crossways with the game warden.

Check out this video from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about how to field dress a turkey.


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