How we skin a wild turkey
We just wrapped up one of my favorite weekends of the year. As a family, we spend the dreary late winter counting down the days until Kentucky's two-day youth turkey season. This year didn't disappoint. Although the birds were still mostly flocked up, and on the neighboring property, our oldest (14) son Hunter managed to call in and kill a jake.
Even though he has been killing turkeys since age eight, this was the first bird he has worked solo. I am proud of the hunter he is becoming, and more than a little sad that he doesn't need his old man around anymore to be successful afield.
While we save and pluck a few turkeys every year (watch for a blog post about that in a few weeks), the majority get skinned. And don't forget the legs and thighs; you will be seeing several recipes for those in the weeks to come. Around here, the rule is you shoot it, you process it so my wife Cheryl snapped a few photos of Hunter as he skinned his bird out to illustrate the method we use.
We begin by cutting through the lower joint in each leg. By cutting through the skin around the joint, then bending the leg backwards, the lower leg is easily removed with just a sharp knife.
Start the skinning process by making a small incision in the skin over the breast. Reach in with the fingers of both hands and peel the skin back, exposing both sides of the breast meat.
Continue to peel the skin back over the thighs and legs of the bird to expose everything you want to keep.
Filet down either side of the keel bone to separate the breast meat. There is a smaller breast tender under the larger piece of meat, be careful not to leave it behind.
Once both sides of the breast are clean, move on to the leg and thigh area. With the turkey on its back, place a hand on each of the thighs and press them downward to pop the joint.
Now that the joint is loose, simply run the knife blade along the bottom of the thigh and through the now separated joint.
You can package the thigh and leg quarter together, or further separate them by following the thin line of fat that leads to the joint between the two. Simply run your knife along the line to separate the meat and twist the joint to pop the leg and thigh apart.
That simple, your turkey meat is now ready to clean and freeze or cook. If you like to keep the gizzard and liver from their turkeys, those can be removed by reaching into the cavity through the opening under the keel bone and pulling them out.
For maximum long-term storage, vacuum seal the turkey parts before freezing.