Shot your turkey; next comes field dressing during warm weather
Photo courtesy NWTF
After successfully shooting a wild turkey, field dressing should come next if the weather is warm.
Turkey season is underway with youth weekend leading the way, and from all indications there should be plenty of birds for Hoosier hunters.
Indiana DNR wildlife research biologist Steve Backs said hunters should plan to work a little harder this year.
Backs is forecasting a spring turkey harvest of 11,000, plus or minus 1,000. His prediction is about 6 percent less than the 11,669 birds harvested in 2011, and 20 percent less than the 2010 spring harvest, when hunters bagged a record 13,742 turkeys.
Backs said expectations are lower this year for two reasons, several years of below normal brood production and the advanced progression of vegetation.
The Hoosier state has experienced seven consecutive summers of below normal turkey production primarily due to above normal precipitation in June.
And due to the record warm weather, the spring progression of vegetation is three to four weeks ahead of schedule. More greenery will make seeing and hearing turkeys more difficult, but also provides more concealment for hunters.
Hoosier hunters may take one bearded turkey per day and a total of two during the season. A spring turkey license is $30 for residents and $60 for nonresidents.
Indiana’s spring wild turkey season begins this weekend (April 21-22) with a youth hunt. The regular season starts April 25 and continues through May 13. A turkey license is $25 for residents and $120 for nonresidents.
Should you be lucky enough to bag a bird, field dressing the bird is extremely important, especially during the warm spring weather being experienced this year.
According to the National Wild Turkey Federation folks, in hot weather hunting conditions, field dressing your bird is a good idea before you clean it for the table’.
If you decide to field dress your bird, start by placing the turkey on its back. Find the bottom of the breast plate and insert your knife, making a cut to the anal vent. Remove the entrails from this opening and then reach into the cavity to sever the windpipe, heart and lungs. Cool the cavity by placing ice inside the chest.
Detailed information about how to clean a wild bird can be found on the internet at:: www.nwtf.org. However in general, it isn’t much different than cleaning any other game bird.
One of the interesting debates among outdoors people cleaning wild turkeys is plucking vs. skinning.
Considered the traditional style of cleaning a wild turkey, plucking is a perfect way to prepare your bird to be roasted, smoked or whole deep-fried, according to the experts at NWTF.
Before you remove the entrails or field dress the turkey pluck the turkey's feathers to help keep the moisture in the turkey while cooking it whole. Remove the feathers after dipping the bird in hot water. Some people use boiling water but it has been said that 140-degree water is optimal for plucking a bird.
Plucking does take time and produces more of a mess than does skinning; however, the taste of deep-fried or roasted turkey skin is worth the effort.
Many of today's turkey hunters prefer skinning to plucking.
Skinning a turkey allows you to cook the bird by frying or grilling the pieces of meat. You can skin and fillet the turkey breasts, and slice as much meat from the legs and wings as necessary. Make a cut just along one side of the breastbone. Then, it's just a matter of working the skin off the breast halves, down the back and over each of the legs.
In some states it's illegal to only fillet the breast out, leaving the rest of the carcass behind. Always check your state's hunt regulations, and make sure your turkey is properly tagged for transportation.