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How to Debone a Wild Turkey

The Hunter Chef

The Hunter Chef Cookbook

Celebrating the resources of the wild, The Hunter Chef Cookbook features a collection of over 100 recipes and butchery guides, and stunning food and landscape photography. The book includes recipes for cooking big game, from moose and bison, to white tail deer and wild boar. Common small game features include wild turkey, duck, wild goose, ruffed grouse, as well as rabbit and squirrel. Fresh-water and salt-water fish recipes feature pickerel, wild salmon, rainbow trout, prawns, scallops, and more. A seasoned forager, Hunter offers an array of savoury and sweet recipes, incorporating wild ingredients, everything from mushrooms and leeks to sumac and berries.

Butchering a wild turkey is the same as butchering a chicken or duck, except it is a little larger. You can practice on chickens using the same method. Plucking the whole bird and cooking with the skin on is more flavorful and protects the meat from drying out. There is lots of meat on the legs, and with a little extra care these can provide a few valuable meals.

1. Pluck and gut the turkey: After shooting your bird, start plucking the feathers from the breast area. The feathers will come out much easier while the bird is still warm. Pull up on the skin below the breasts and make a shallow incision across the entire stomach, cutting upwards and being careful not to cut the intestines. Using your hand, pull out all the innards. Keep the heart, liver, and gizzard and discard the rest.

How To Debone Wild Turkey

2. Remove the bottom leg just below the drumstick. Using a boning knife, cut 360 degrees around the knee joint. Cut the sinew and, using your hands, snap the joint in half. 

How To Debone Wild Turkey

3. Position the bird with the breasts up. Feel the middle of the breast meat to find the breastbone that runs down the center. Hugging the bone with the blade, make a cut down the length of the breast meat on one side.

How To Debone Wild Turkey

4. Continue to slice along the ribs, hugging the blade along the bones. Pull the breast meat back and cut under the meat, hugging the rib bones, to remove the breast meat away from the body. Remove the legs by pulling the thigh away from the body and cutting down the cavity of the bird. Simply pull back on the ball joint to pop it out. Continue cutting away the meat along the back of the bird to remove the leg. 

How To Debone Wild Turkey

5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 on the other side of the turkey. 

How To Debone Wild Turkey

6. Cut the legs from the breasts. Cut the skin holding the legs and breast together. 

How To Debone Wild Turkey

7. Separated breast and leg shown.

How To Debone Wild Turkey

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