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Snapping Turtles: How To Catch, Clean and Cook

Rodney Meyer has been trapping turtles for about 40 years. This video series from Mossy Oak University takes you through turtle trapping, cleaning and eating.

How To Catch Snapping Turtles: Setting the Trap



Before setting out your traps, check your local rules and regulations for trapping turtles. Wherever you anchor your trap, be sure it's easy for you to get to. You want to tie up the trap so it won't roll out into deeper water and risk drowning your turtle. Meyer likes to head out about midday or afternoon to set his traps. He finds fish to be the best bait for turtles. Put the bait in the center of the trap where the turtles can't reach it from the outside, so they'll swim in and get it. You can go back in the evening or the next morning to check your trap. 

Once you've caught your turtle, the tricky part is picking up the snapping turtle. Take a stick and distract his head while you pick it up by the tail. Put it in a tub about 2 feet tall that it will not crawl out of.  

DIY Snapping Turtle Trap



Take 6-feet long chicken wire and circle it around to make the wire trap 2-feet in diameter. Use tie wire to tie the ends together around each hole up 4 feet. The remaining 2 feet cut with wire all around giving you a 2 feet wide piece of wire to flatten out and put on one end, making the trap 4-feet long. Put the flattened wire section on one end of the trap and secure it around the top to close off one end of the trap. Clip off excess wire. Flip the wire trap and then you can close off the other end with a dip net. Cut off the closed end of the dip net and stick the narrow end down in the trap. Take string and wire to secure the net around the open end of the trap weaving your string around the net. Then, cut a doorway in the side of the trap approximately 10x16 inches. Now you can reach into the trap. Take some nylon string and secure the narrow end of the net to the sides of the trap. This creates a funnel with a narrow opening inside the trap. You want the snapping turtle to be able to swim in but not out. Next, you want to take some tie wire about 2.5 feet long for placing your bait on. This should be about a foot away from the narrow end of the net and 6-8 inches away from the end of the trap. Make sure the turtle can't get to the bait from the outside of the trap.

How To Clean a Snapping Turtle



Place vise grips on each side of the shell and hang the turtle by the vise grips with the belly side facing you. Cut the skin around the shell, on each side of the tail and down each side of the legs to the claws. Then take plyers and take off strips of skin starting at the tail end. Once all the skin is removed, take a knife and slice throught joints removing the feet. Slice through the thin line on either side of the under shell, and pull it off as you cut the meat away. Then pull down on the tail and take your knife to cut away the meat from the backbone of the outer shell. Keep pulling as you cut. Once the meat is removed, rinse it well and let it soak in cold water overnight or a day or two. You can debone the meat or cut it into pieces much like you would a chicken.   

Turtle Recipe: How To Cook a Snapping Turtle



What you need:

  • Cast iron skillet or dutch oven
  • Crock pot
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • Seasoned flour mixture (your preferred seasoning mix added to the flour)
  • Yellow Onion, chopped
  • Turtle pieces


  • Heat vegetable oil in skillet to 350 degrees.
  • Preheat crock pot.
  • Coat the turtle pieces with the flour mixture and fry until all sides are lightly browned.
  • Add in yellow onions and let caramelize as the turtle continues to fry.
  • Once browned and the onions softened, add turtle and onions to crock pot. 
  • Cook in crock pot for about 2 hours, letting the turtle get nice and tender.
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