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Field Dressing Turkey

To learn how to preserve your trophies, please visit the Taxidermy Page.

Field dressing turkey is very easy to do. Many hunters believe that the legs, neck, and wings of wild turkey are too tough to bother removing them and so will only breast the bird. Others prefer to bring the entire bird home and roast it.


Lay the turkey on its back and remove the feathers from its stomach and chest area. Grab a handful and pull up towards the head, against the natural lay of the feathers. Once the stomach and chest area has been exposed, pinch the flesh in the stomach area and pull it away from the body. Take your knife and make an incision through this pinch. This will allow you to get your knife under the skin. While pulling the skin away, use your knife to help separate it from the meat. The fresher the Turkey is, the easier the skin will pull from the body. Pull the skin away to expose the breast meat. Take a knife and make a cut down the middle right beside the breast bone. Pulling the meat outwards, keep cutting at where it meets the ribcage. The breast meat will pull away easily. Repeat for other side.


You must pluck the bird while it is still warm. Plucking it when the bird is cold will be much more difficult and can damage the skin. You may want to wear a pair of latex gloves during the plucking process as it will make it easier to grip the feathers and save some wear and tear on your hands and fingers.

Begin by hanging the turkey by its feet and plucking the big wing feathers and then the tail feathers by using a quick outward motion. Once these are removed, begin pulling out the smaller feathers on the wings and the legs. You pluck these areas first because they cool the quickest and are much easier to pluck when still warm. Pinch as many of these feathers as you can between your thumb and forefinger and pull in the direction the feathers grow. Watch for areas which are soft and have fat under the skin. These areas are more prone to tearing open making your job much more difficult to complete. Be more gentle in these areas, pulling only a few feathers at a time.

Once completely plucked, cut around the vent and up to the base of the rib cage. Pull out the intestines and all internal organs. Cut off the head where it meets the neck and discard. Cut off the neck at the base and discard any areas that may have shot pellets.