Field dressing your kills is one of those special skills that can only really be learned with ample practice and experience. However, there are many tips that you can review to get a better understanding of field dressing, even if you already have some experience with the practice. Field dressing is one of the most important parts of hunting, and it can make all the difference between edible meat that can be cooked and enjoyed, and meat that must be thrown out soon after the initial kill. Here are some tips for doing your best job at field dressing your turkey immediately after the kill.
Field dressing is essentially gutting the bird in the field while leaving the feathers on. Removing the guts or entrails is important to help allow the bird to cool faster and to keep the “juices” inside the bird from spoiling any meat. If it is a cool day and you aren’t far from home, you can skip the field dressing step and wait until you are home before cleaning the bird.
Step 1 – Positioning the Turkey into the Proper Position
After a successful shot, make certain that the turkey is dead. Many turkeys will thrash around for several moments after being shot. Make sure that your turkey is done thrashing, and that it has been killed rather than injured or wounded. After you have made certain that the turkey is dead, lay the bird on its back. Locate the part of the body that you will be working with. In this case, you will want to follow the breast of the turkey down to the rear of the animal. Follow this area to the point where it narrows between the legs. This is the area you will be working on.
Step 2 – Making the First Cut
Cut the kill open by pulling up on the tip and making a shallow horizontal cut on the skin. You will be cutting between the tip of the bird breast all the way to the vent, which is the anus area. You may have to pull out a few feathers in this area so you can make the cut with greater ease. This incision will have to be large enough that you can insert your hand and pull out the dead bird’s entrails. When making the first gutting, make sure that you pull out the turkey’s heart and lungs.
Step 3 – Making the Careful Incisions
There are a number of very careful incisions to make. First, make sure to cut around the vent. You can do this by following the intestine back. Afterwards, make sure to cut around the exterior. This incision should be made with great care, as you want to avoid getting any of the intestine contents to get on the exterior of the turkey.
Step 4 – Removing the Crop of the Turkey
The crop is the sac-like organ that stores what the turkey has been eating. You remove this by making a cut on the neck of the turkey. Then you will want to reach down and remove the crop that is located on the breast.
Step 5 – Clean the Kill with Water
You will want to clean the kill well before delivering it to your taxidermist to be mounted. The best and easiest way to go about cleaning your kill is to use water to rinse out the turkey. Use paper towels to absorb any blood or bodily fluids. Use a large plastic bag or used panty hose to store the dead bird, making sure not to ruffle its large tail feathers. Use a cooler to keep the dead bird well preserved en route to the taxidermist.