How to Gut a Wild Turkey

by Suzanna Didier
The wild turkey is America's largest game bird.

The wild turkey is America's largest game bird.

Jupiterimages/ Images

The turkey was just one vote shy of becoming America's national bird. It's a good thing they weren't elected to the job, though, because these striking and inquisitive birds would likely be off limits to you as a hunter. Wild turkeys eat just about anything, including grain, berries, insects -- even snakes. Hunting them tries your patience but the flavor of the meat makes it all worthwhile. Once you bag a bird, gutting a wild turkey involves just a few steps.

Items you will need

  • Sharp knife
  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • Ice
Step 1

Lay the turkey on its back and pull some of the feathers from the breast.

Step 2

Insert your knife below the breastplate and cut through the skin to the anal vent.

Step 3

Reach inside the cavity and pull out the entrails, heart, lungs and windpipe. You might need to use your knife to loosen the organs and the windpipe.

Step 4

Make small cuts around the anal vent and along the walls of the intestines to remove them without punctures; it keeps your turkey clean.

Step 5

Rinse the cavity thoroughly with water and pat it dry with paper towels. The bird is now ready to be plucked or skinned and prepared for your table.

Tips & Warnings

  • If there is a delay in returning home after the hunt or if the weather is warm, the National Turkey Federation recommends gutting your bird in the field and filling the chest cavity with ice to keep it cool.
  • Some hunters pluck the turkey before gutting it. If you decide on this approach, dip it in boiling water before plucking -- it loosens the feathers. Choose a pot large enough to cover the turkey without overflowing.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images