Turkey Hunting Tips: Processing Your Bird

Video wild turkey processing

One of the best things about turkey hunting is when you kill a turkey – breasting out and having either strips or nuggets. But fried turkey breast fresh in camp is one of the best things. So I’m going to go over the quickest and easiest way for processing wild turkey.

The Beard

You always want to start at the beard. Obviously, most people want to keep the beard as a trophy. So take your knife and feel with your fingers and get completely behind that beard where it attaches in the skin there, and just cut the beard off.

And you can clean that up and then mount it however you want it.

Skinning The Bird

Next, you’ll start from the hole made when you cut the beard off, and you can just start pulling the skin back. Pull the skin all the way down his breast bone and away from the breast.

This is nice because you don’t have to go through pulling all his feathers off.

Filleting The Breast

Once you’ve gotten the skin pulled and exposed the breast meat, you want to start filleting that breast meat out.

One tip I have is to cut a little further down, break those back leg joints and open him up wider. That makes it a little easier for you when you start cutting out the breast meat to keep from getting feathers everywhere.

Essentially, you’re just going to filet the breast meat off the breast bone. I always start in the middle and work all the way down. But you can find the bone with your finger and just follow that line.

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And make sure to go slow so you get as much meat as you can.

Next, I start working up the breast bone.

When you get up to the front of the turkey, you’ll have to cut in a little bit because the bone actually stops there. Just follow that line all the way around. And you’ll just filet them right off of that bone.

When you get back down to the bottom of the filet, just peel right along the back. It’s easier to follow, because you don’t have all those organs and stuff up front that you have to worry about cutting into. You just peel from the back forward.

You can get to there, trim that fat off. And you got a whole breast. Then you’re just going to go and do the same thing on the other side.

The Legs and Spurs

Most people are going to want to cut the legs off. The spurs are kind of a trophy. And if you bend his leg, those bones are all attached by tendons. And if you cut just right, you can separate the whole thing without having to break any bone.

The Drums

The next part of the turkey you want to save is the drumsticks.

So you take your knife, skin down and peel that hide back off the thighs.

Once you get the hide peeled back, you can pull down on that meat and get in there as tight as you can to cut out as much of that thigh as you can.

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[Click Here to Shop .300 Winchester Magnum Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a elk in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .300 Winchester Magnum within the ideal range of suitable calibers for elk hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the .300 Winchester Magnum is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .300 Winchester Magnum Animal Species Elk Muzzle Energy 3520 foot-pounds Animal Weight 720 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .300 Winchester Magnum? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .300 Winchester Magnum round is approximately 3520 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male elk? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male elk is approximately 720 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .300 Winchester Magnum Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in elk hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for elk to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .300 Winchester Magnum. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the elk being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .300 Winchester Magnum is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk - and to this question, the response again is yes, the .300 Winchester Magnum is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting. [Click Here to Shop .300 Winchester Magnum Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting elk to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

And you’re going to cut until you find the ball joint. Once you find the joint, you just separate it, cut around it, and it’ll come right off.

There you go.

The Tail Fan

The next thing everybody wants off of a turkey is his tail fan. So that’s the pretty part of a turkey, right? And you want to keep some of these secondary feathers just because it makes a pretty fan mount.

All of his tail feathers come together right inside in one joint. When you find that joint, you can get your fingers around it. And you’re just going to cut right around the bottom of it. There’s no bone in that joint, so you can just cut it right off.

And then you can clean up some of those secondary feathers and get it pretty for your fan mount.

So there you have it. That is how I go about processing wild turkey. Hopefully you found this helpful and if you are looking for high quality hunting clothing to help you on your turkey hunt, check out SKRE Gear’s Turkey Bundles.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>