Wild Turkey Processing

WyoDoug

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I will be hunting turkey for the first time in 2021 and I have a number of questions. I have butchered domestic turkey but wild turkey will be different I think. I have seen numerous videos on doing that but thought I would poll a few of you more experienced on how you do it.

One, do you pluck or do you skin? Seen videos on both.

What about gizzard? I have found no answer on that. On domestic turkey, gizzard and liver is my favorite giblet parts. How does that occur with wild turkey?

What is your favorite ways to prepare wild turkey?
 
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SaskHunter

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I've done both, I've plucked them or simply cut out the breasts and legs.

I personally prefer cutting out the breasts and legs. The legs get cooked low and slow and the breasts end up as a few schnitzel meals.
 

MTelkHuntress

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Missoula, MT
I got my first turkey this year and we ate it for Christmas. I decided to roast it so we plucked and I removed a lot of fat from the bird. I stuffed the inside with oranges and put butter and spices on the outside and under the skin. I put parchment paper and foil ontop. I was surprised how moist it came out and the heart was delicious. I gave the gizzard to my dog though....it came out too tough for me but the liver was good. I took the bones, legs and some leftover meat and made a turkey soup with egg noodles which turned out amazing.
 

WyoDoug

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With domestic turkey, I like to take the neck, heart and liver and boil those to make broth for gravey and scrape the meat off for stuffing. How many of you do that?

I boil the gizzard with this but then I eat it after it's done. Gizzard is my favorite part of a turkey. I read Pinella's video on that and looks like it can be tasty to those of us who like that part.

My grandpa and dad used to go turkey hunting in Nebraska when my dad was in his 20s and I was maybe 2 or 3. Apparently I used to throw a fit if they didn't give me the damn gizzard. I have like that part longer than I remember.
 

slatebuilder

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I skin them

Then breast them. There is all kinds of stuff to do with these.

I smoke the remainder of the carcass for a bit and then simmer on the stove. Pull the remaining meat from the legs, thighs, and body and use the stock and meat to make a smoked turkey soup. There are a number of good recipes floating around.

Edit: if you skin it carefully you can make a heck of a cool turkey rug.
 

ElkFever2

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Iowa
I’ve plucked them, or just parted them out. I prefer parting so I can do schnitzel with the breast and then slow cook (braise) the legs and wings, since they are tough on an old tom. Gizzard is very good. I like heart and liver gravy too. If you cook the bird whole make sure to take a final thermometer check in the thigh since it is proportionally larger than a domestic bird. I find that cooking a domestic turkey whole is more forgiving. Earlier this fall I ground one thigh and one breast together to make turkey patties and they were superb.
 

Hem

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Three Forks, Mt
I've killed alot of turkeys and tried many recipes. Lately I have been boning out the bird and grinding the meat for a less traditional approach. Meatballs are great.
The one thing I still haven't tried is deep frying.
 

peterk1234

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I hate to waste animal meat. I skin them and debone. Grind it up and mix with ground bacon. Then turkey sausage using the Steve Rinella breakfast sausage recipe that uses diced apple. It is to die for.
 

Gellar

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The Driftless Area
I gut and hang my turkey for 24 hours in a refrigerator! After 24 I pluck the bird and part it out. Plucking with the skin on gives me more options, I can skin it later if the recipe calls for skinless , but I can’t put the skin back on! 2 Breasts, 2 wings, 2 legs/thighs. I immediately use the carcass to make stock in a big roaster pan. I like to smoke one of the breasts, the other I will pound to 3/4” flat and cut into roughly 1” pieces. I bread and fry these! The legs, thighs and wings I make into carnitas. I also really enjoy wild turkey burgers, before I make stock I cut the access meat off the bone, I usually get about a pound. To that I add 1/4 pound of bacon and grind it. A turkey burger with pepper jack is very good! You won’t go wrong with any of hank shaws turkey recipes but here are my favorites:

smoked turkey breast (the southwest turkey egg rolls I posted a recipe for last week with leftovers from this recipe are pretty awesome!)

turkey carnitas ( I made a big batch of these last week and have been eating for lunch everyday! )
 

Jwill

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Virginia
I generally breast them then take off the legs/thighs, dont take any giblets. Usually end up trimming and grinding the legs/thighs.
 

kansasdad

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Wichita
While I might prefer to try other styles of turkey meals, the family has settled on two main main course dishes for my turkeys. Breast meat goes into a teriyaki turkey over rice,
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while the legs/thighs are slow cooked or pressure cooked and shredded, and then served like that or flash fried to gain a crispy texture and these carnitas made into street taco styled meals.

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On page 19 I did a step by step for Hank Shaw’s turkey carnitas recipe:


For my last handful of birds, I have pulled out the heart, gizzard and liver. In general, the family consensus is that I can have those to myself. In order of my liking is as above with gizzard and heart worth it, puppy Fiona is quite happy that I have given here the liver.
 

MT Bound

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MT
I usually breast them out and lately have been smoking the breasts, slices out just like lunchmeat.

This past season I took all the leg meat and ground up as turkey burger
 

Horse

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packerland
Like others have said. Many ways to do. I usually just skin and pull the breasts and legs. Legs get slow cooked till meat is pulled off bones and added to various dishes. Lately we been taking the breasts and chunking them into 1x2”. Shake with spicy shorelunch/fish breading and deep frying “turkey nuggets “. Quick frying and delicious plain or with favorite sauce.
 

Trailsend

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Jan 3, 2021
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We have done lots of things with ours as well. Do tend to be less fatty so easier to over cook if not careful. We have also ground ours with bacon, we have used 3lb bacon ends package with one Tom, we just patty them and grill.
 

RidgeRoamingRichard

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Nov 19, 2019
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Helena, MT
My turkey this year took about 2 minutes to pluck. It was real easy and the skin is the best part in my book.

As for the gizzard, I suggest just deep frying some packing peanuts and eating those. Probably better eating. Oh and the liver tasted like sadness.

I braised a leg and wing so far, but didn't add enough liquid and dried them out. Schnitzel was amazing. Going to try a galontine with the rest.
 

schmalts

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WI
I breast them and cut the thigh meat off. Kind of treat them like a giant grouse. The breast either gets stir fried or made into deep fried turkey fingers. The thigh meat gets chopped up and made into turkey taco meat. No plucking involved, just rip the skin off.
 

Trial153

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Jan 4, 2016
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New York
Dry plucking especially right after they are killed is very worth your time.
The skin even if your part the Turkey out acts some protection when cooking and makes for a better eating bird.
Yes save the gizzard, liver and heart ....mine goes in the soup pot.
 

Carl 9.3x62

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Laramie, Wyoming
I have only killed one wild turkey. After sitting in my freezer for over a year, I ground it up and made jerky out of it. Best jerky I ever made.
 
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