Basic Wild Turkey Butchering Tips

Butchering and Preparing a Wild Turkey

What is gained when you harvest a wild turkey? Senses of pride and accomplishment are first, followed by lasting memories and a story to tell, but probably my favorite thing to gain from a successful turkey hunt is wild, delicious meat. Wild turkey is some of the best game meat in existence. It’s lean, flavorful, and absent of a traditional “gamey” taste. And unlike big game animals, it’s fairly easy to process on your own!

I’ve had the pleasure of processing a few turkeys this year and felt it would be appropriate to provide some basic butchering tips and my favorite turkey breast recipe. 

Butchering wild turkey in the field

Basic Wild Turkey Butchering Tips

  • First, it’s always important to prepare your tools before you dive in. This includes gathering various bowls to place meat in and sharpening your knife. A sharp knife is as important a tool as any during this process. 
  • I like to start by slitting the skin on the breast bone for my initial entry. Try to cut only skin, as feathers will dull a knife quickly. Once you get a small entry cut, you can use your hands and knife to pull all the skin away from the breasts. Make sure the breast is completely exposed all the way around before you attempt to remove them. 
  • Now you will want to remove the breasts and tenderloins. The best advice I can give here is take it slow and hug the bone. This will ensure that you don’t hack your tenderloins to pieces. Just follow the edges of muscle separation and you’ll be fine.
  • Removing the legs and thighs can be a little trickier. First start by skinning the leg and thigh to expose all of the meat. Next, take the knife and free up as much meat at the top of thigh from the remainder of the carcass as possible. Once you have done that, use some strength and twist the joint out of socket. Now you can finish cutting the final ligaments to free up the thigh. 
  • Once you have all your pieces separated, wash well and cut away any hemorrhages or pellets that you might find. 
  • When freezing meat for storage, use a vacuum sealer if available. I’ve recently bought one and it’s been a complete game changer!


Field dressing wild turkey

My Go-To Wild Turkey Recipe

When I harvest a turkey, there is no doubt in my mind how I will prepare the first meal, and that is fried buffalo turkey strips! I started making these a couple years ago and haven’t been able to get enough of them. It takes all the best qualities of fried turkey nuggets and boneless chicken wings and combines them.  Here is how I like to make it: 

  • Start by cutting your turkey breast into long, thin strips. Cut them less then ½ inch thick and slice them about 4-5 inches long. This will ensure a crispy fry. 
  • Next, dredge the strips in egg wash or mustard (any breading binder will work), and place in your seasoned flour. I like to season my flour with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne or cajun seasoning. 
  • Once coated with flour, drop into your hot grease (deep fry or shallow skillet fry work). Turn the strips a few times until they are crispy golden and then remove. 
  • While the strips are cooling, I like to prepare my buffalo sauce. Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce is my go-to. Pour one bottle of sauce into a pot with a half stick of butter and let it simmer. 
  • Once your sauce is mixed, place your strips on a plate and pour the sauce over them. Finally, I like to garnish with a few pickles and dig in! 

This is my favorite way to cook wild turkey, so give it a try this year!


Published April 25th by Will Bowen, Okayest Hunter Contributor

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