Turkey season is in full-swing throughout much of the country, so it pays to be prepared in case you tie your tag to a tom or jake. (There’s no need to apologize for killing a jake. And just as a yearling doe tastes better than an old buck, Jimmy Jake tastes better than Grandpa Gobbler.)
You can either skin or pluck a wild turkey, with a few variations in between. As the video below from our friends at Mossy Oak shows, one of the most common and easiest ways is to skin the turkey and then remove the meat in a way that it can easily be cooked to perfection.
Of course, before you get started, you’ll need a good sharp knife and a clean flat surface. It’s also helpful to have gallon-size freezer bags on hand, as well as a garbage bag to discard the carcass when finished.
Below are the six steps that can get that juicy turkey on the table in no time. And yes, you’ll also learn the easiest ways to remove the tail fan, beard and spurs so you can remember your bird for years to come.
Step 1, Remove the Beard: The beard can be pulled away from the breast and carefully cut away. After removing it, you’ll need to remove any excess tissue.
Steps 2, Remove the Spurs: Apply pressure to the turkey knee joint until the joint pops loose. Then, you should be able to easily separate the skin with a sharp knife.
Step 3, Remove the Fan: Hold on to the base of the tail and cut just below the lump of meat that holds the fan feathers together.
Step 4, Skin the Bird: Start by laying down the turkey breast side up. Make a small cut through the skin along the top of the breast bone. Slowly pull the skin away from the breast and legs.
Step 5, Remove the Breast Meat: Locate the breast bone and make a cut down one side of the bone to loosen the breast meat. Pull breast meat away from bone while cutting along the breast bone to remove in one piece. Repeat this process on the other side of the breast bone to remove the other breast.
Step 6, Remove the Leg and Thigh Meat: With the turkey placed on its back, apply pressure down on the thigh until you feel the joint pop loose. Run your knife between thigh and turkey body until the leg quarter releases from the body.
Image courtesy of Mossy Oak