Tips on Skinning a Turkey for Thanksgiving

A high-quality skinning knife is essential for any DIY turkey skinning attempt.

A high-quality skinning knife is essential for any DIY turkey skinning attempt.

Coast recently published an informative article titled How to Skin a Turkey for Thanksgiving, and just in time! Many inexperienced hunters are so excited to bag their first bird that they neglect to learn what they need to do with the bird after its bagged. Well, the Coast article has all the information you need to properly field dress and skin a Thanksgiving turkey. Here are a few highlights.

Field Dressing
Insert your hunting knife into the bottom of the breastplate and cut all the way to the anal vent. Next, remove all entrails through the incision. This will involve reaching into the bird to sever the heart, lungs and windpipe. If it’s noticeably warm out, you may want to consider cooling the bird by stuffing the newly emptied cavity with ice. Make sure to clean your hunting knife after field dressing.

Plucking vs. Skinning
A number of turkey hunters today prefer skinning a bird to plucking it. Why? For starters, it is a much faster method of preparing a turkey. Plucking a bird can take time and can make quite a mess. If done correctly, skinning a turkey can take as little as three minutes.
Another reason hunters often prefer skinning to plucking is because a skinned turkey is much healthier to eat than a plucked one. Plucking leaves the skin on the bird, and while cooked turkey skin is tasty, it contains high levels of fat and cholesterol. A skinned bird allows you to cook just the meat, making for a much healthier meal.

Once the bird is skinned it is ready for cooking. Many hunters fillet their birds before grilling, frying or baking. Filleting a bird is fairly easy—simply remove the skin from the breast, loosen the breasts from the bone with a filleting or skinning knife, and carefully remove. If you plan on filleting the breast, remember to still use the rest of the bird. In many states it’s actually illegal to remove the breast and throw the rest of the turkey away.

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