More Wild Turkey Cooking Hints from The Backyard Sportsman

The start of a turkey dinner. This small hen was purposefully taken as a "eating" bird during the 2010 Fall Idaho turkey season.

  This posting is provided for those with slower connections who can’t easily view my previous video posts on taking and cooking a small hen turkey to provide an excellent bird for the table. This hen was taken from an Idaho ranch. It was one of a flock of more than 30 that lived in the barnyard on the feed put out for the rancher’s stock. While no one objects to an occasional wild bird coming in to feed, when numbers climb to a dozen or more they consume significant feed, drive off other animals from their feed, kill smaller fowl and even occasionally injure larger stock animals.  Taking and eating these birds, even if they live near someone’s house, is needed to control the population.

A plucked, clean turkey ready for freezing or roasting.


  Turkeys pluck much easer when they are still warm from body heat, and this bird was plucked in the barnyard where it mostly lived and the feathers captured in an old feed bag. I took it to my motel room and finished the cleaning and washing where I had water and cleaned up after myself. This bird was frozen for my trip back to Georgia from Idaho. The wings had been removed to recover the bones for a wing-bone turkey call.

Now back on my kitchen table in Georgia, this turkey is in a roaster where it is tented in aluminum foil, had its breast buttered and salted and onions, celery seed and a half-cup water put in the pan prior to cooking.

   With added water and cooking tented in foil, the result is a moist, tender bird; even with simple cooking methods. The giblets, (liver, heart, gizzard and neck) were boiled separately and might have been used for giblet gravy, but were used here in turkey soup.

The cooked turkey just out of the oven. The watery stock at the bottom of the pan was used for turkey soup, although I more often make turkey dressing from it.


  I do not brown my turkeys because this only dries out the meat. From this turkey I had some very tender, good tasting sliced meat for sandwiches, made Cornish pasties (see video for details) and turkey soup. After the breast meat had been removed the bones were boiled, and the meat removed. To this fluid was added the stock (drippings) from the cooked bird, a can of tomato paste, onions, potatoes and rice along with some chopped tomatoes salt and pepper. Many other things might have gone into this soup. I also used the cut meat from the legs and quarters.

  This young bird provided a variety of excellent products for the table. I could have also made a dressing from the stock,  turkey dumplings,  turkey-pot pie, turkey hash or used any of a large number of recipes for turkey or chicken. There was absolutely no off or wild taste to this meat. There is no reason, outside of the trouble of doing it, of using any of these legally harvested birds for family food. Idaho allows residents in some counties to obtain tags to allow them to take five a year per license holder to manage these fowl.

  As always, safe and legal hunting methods must be used; even when shooting these backyard birds.

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