How to Clean a Wild Turkey

Clean A Wild Turkey

What is that one meat without which we cannot imagine the festive season? You guessed it right; it is turkey meat. Turkey is not only tasty, but it is also filled with nutrition. It has an ample amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is also an excellent addition to your diet if you want to eliminate carbohydrates because turkey meat has 0 grams of carbs. Moreover, turkey is also a versatile meat because you can use it for your breakfast sandwich, lunch curry, dinner roast, and even at your barbeque parties. People of all ages love turkey. 

Although you can always opt for store-bought processed or frozen turkey, there is nothing better than using a wild turkey for your Thanksgiving roast. It can be the showstopper at the party! We can assure you that your guests will love it and be all praises for you. 

The first step towards cooking a mouth-watering turkey dish is to clean the bird first. It doesn’t matter if you hunted the bird or bought it from your local farm; the process of cleaning the turkey and dressing it for your grandmother’s recipe can be complicated and challenging. Whatever it might be, it will never be boring. Additionally, an excellent clean can help with the dish’s flavors and ensure the meat is cooked correctly. 

So let us go through the process of cleaning a wild turkey in a step-by-step manner.


The Process of Cleaning a Wild Turkey 

The first thing you must know about a wild turkey is to use almost every bird part. Starting with the best interests of the bird – the breasts and the thighs to the lesser-enjoyed parts such as gizzards and liver, there is a recipe for every part of it. However, you have to make sure that you clean it properly before you use it for cooking your favorite meal. 

If you follow these steps correctly, we are sure you will clean up the wild turkey just like a professional and impress your family and friends with it. Read on!

Step 1

The first step is somewhat unrelated to the bird itself but the most important of all. If you have decided to undertake a project as broad as this one, you need to have all the gear in place. The things that you need for the process includes:


These are essential because you will be dealing with the carcass of a dead bird. Additionally, you will also be dealing with warm water and sharp knives. You can use gloves of any variety, but our advice will be to get latex gloves because they are reusable and easily available.

Sharp Knife

This is an essential tool, and the keyword here is sharp. But, you have to be careful while using it. Wild Turkey meat can get tricky, and you should be prepared with a sharp knife to reduce the possibilities of cuts and bruises if you are planning on cutting your meat yourself ; although it is best to get a butcher’s knife. 


A big tumbler is necessary for the upcoming steps. Make sure that the size of the tumbler is significant so that it can fit in the wild turkey. When it comes to which material you should buy, we’ll say plastic or anything sturdy enough to hold the bird.


Cleaning a wild turkey can be a messy process. It involves feathers, blood, meat, and a lot of other waste. A garbage bin is significant if you want to keep your backyard clean and less smelly. Alternatively, you can also use biodegradable plastic bags to hold the waste and dump it directly in the bin.

How to Clean a Wild Turkey 1

Storage Bags

Once you clean the turkey, you will need storage bags to store the meat. You will most probably not use all parts of the turkey on the first go. For a roast, you have to clear out the insides of the wild turkey and get rid of the gizzards and other parts. So, you will need these storage bags compatible with a freezer to store them away. But you will indeed not throw them away, right? 

Step 2

The first step after accumulating your tools will be to get rid of the beard. A lot of hunters have the habit of saving the beard as a souvenir from their hunting trips. If you want to do that, you can too. For this, you need to get a grip of the wild turkey beard and pull it with enough force. Once you do that, the beard will start coming off, and slowly and steadily, you can get rid of it. If you want to preserve it, put it in a bag and store it away. 

Step 3

Once you are done with the beard, you need to get started with extracting the meat. It is an important step, and you must be very careful while doing this. One of the best things about plucking a turkey is that it helps you to keep the skin at its place. If you plan to roast or smoke wild turkey, this is the method you should follow; We say this because the skin adds beautiful crispiness to the dish and makes your roast better.

There are different ways to do this but let us go with the wise old way. For this, take a big tumbler and fill it with hot water. Many people use boiling water, but according to us, that can slightly cook the meat. Our advice will be to keep the water at 140F for the best result. It will help loosen the feathers and assist you in the plucking process. You can soak the bird overnight if you have the time. It will be of great help. But if you are in a hurry, leave it in the tub for an hour. 

Once the bird is done soaking in warm water, get your gloves on and get started. Find a firm grip on the wild turkey and pluck out the feathers. If you are doing it for the first time, it might seem messy, but give it some time, and you will be able to grasp how to do it properly. One thing you must be aware of, plucking takes time and patience. Hold on to it. 


Alternatively, you can skin a turkey as well. If you want to use the turkey for grilling or simply as a breakfast meat, you should peel it. Skinning is a simple process. You have to cut along with the breast of the turkey, and from there, you need to slowly start ripping the skin off from the rest of the bird. This step will take some time as well, and you need to do it carefully because there is a chance that you will rip off more than just the skin. 

Step 4

Wash the plucked or skinned wild turkey with hot water. Use lukewarm water to clear out the bits and pieces of feather and skin from the turkey. It is important because nobody wants to burn feathers with their roast.

Step 5

Now that you have a beautiful skinned wild turkey in front of you, you need to cut it into pieces for future use. Take the turkey and place it on its back. This way, you will have the various parts of the body exposed to you. Cut across the breast line and make sure to follow it. It is the simplest way because you are relying on the wild turkey’s anatomy. It’s not rocket science! Turkey meat is generally soft, and it is even better in the case of a wild turkey.

Once you have extracted the breast meat, the thighs and other parts are still left. For this, you need to get to the wild turkey’s ankles and feet. It would help if you broke the joint, and for this, you have to twist the bird’s feet and bend the lower leg. With the sound of a crack, you can be sure that the legs are broken. Once this happens, you can extract the thighs. 

If you plan on roasting the whole turkey with the breast, thighs, and legs intact, you need to clean the inside of the bird thoroughly because that’s where all the flavoring will go in. For this, you need to put your hand inside the wild turkey and extract all the parts that lay there. It will contain the intestines, stomach, and other such factors. Although most people either feed it to their dogs or throw them out, there are wonderful recipes for these bits and parts. We recommend that you try some because turkey gizzard and liver are packed with nutrition and shouldn’t go to waste. 

Step 6

The last step will be to either cut the extracted pieces into smaller parts or store them away just the way they are. Make sure to put them into reusable freezer bags and put them in as soon as the process is complete. Leaving it out can make it go bad. And if you want to prepare it for a family roast, there is no need for you to go through the steps.  

How to Clean a Wild Turkey 2

 Things to Keep in Mind

Now that you are well-informed about the process, you should go through these critical points to keep in mind:

  1. It would be best if you were well-informed about the hunting rules of a particular state. There are often regulations and guidelines that need to be followed. 
  2. Always conduct the procedure of cleaning and cutting a wild turkey in an open space. 
  3. Keep your children and pets away from hot water and sharp knives.


Hunting and cleaning a wild turkey ahead of the festivities can also be a fantastic family event. We are confident you will be great at it and have a wonderful meal! Make sure to follow all the steps correctly and maintain safety measures.

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