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Tools and Techniques No Bird Hunter Should Be Without (infographic)

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October 16, 2014
Published in News & Tips > Hunting > Small Game
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If you take care of gamebirds bagged in the hunted field or forest, they will take care of you at the dinner table. Having the right tools and techniques for field dressing gamebirds can make the job much easier.

Dressing Gamebirds: five easy steps.

Tools of the Trade

You only need a few tools to properly take care of birds. A knife is the basic piece of gear required. It can be either a fixed blade knife or folding knife with a 2 ½ to 4 inch blade.

If you choose a folder, make sure it’s a model that locks in place for safety’s sake. A built-in gutting tool is optional. Also keep a knife sharpener, whetstone or steel handy. The sharpest knife is the safest knife when used with care.

Snipping shears can be useful for cutting off wings and legs of larger birds such as geese, ducks and turkeys, but aren’t essential. You can use garden tree clippers in a pinch or snap the joints and use your knife.

Some people like to use rubber field dressing gloves or dishwashing gloves to reduce cleanup afterwards. Paper towels come in handy and a few wet wipes are nice if you’re not near a stream or faucet where you can wash up afterwards.

Field to Table Techniques

Plucking—This is best done in the field or soon after the bird has been shot, when the body is still warm. Pull just a few feathers at a time. You can also dip a bird several times in hot water (around 180 degrees) for a few seconds, to loosen the feathers before plucking.

Ducks and geese can be easier to pluck if they are dipped several times in melted canning wax or paraffin. Allow the wax to cool and harden, then peel it off. Use about 8 to 12 ounces of wax in two or three gallons of hot water.

Remaining down and hair-like feathers can be removed by holding the bird quickly over a gas stove burner or using kitchen matches.

After plucking, cut off the feet, head, tail and wings. Cut below the breast and take out the entrails (see instructions below), then wipe with paper towels or wash in a sink with cold water.

Field Dressing a Bird:

  1. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow horizontal cut just below the breast bone.

  2. Pull the breast forward and the legs back to open the bird.

  3. Reach in and pull out the intestines, heart, lungs and gizzard.

  4. Wipe the bird inside with a paper towel or clean cloth. Place in a cooler or shady place to dissipate the heat.

Skinning and Cleaning a Bird

  1. Snap or cut off wings with a knife or shears at the first joint away from the body.

  2. Cut through the legs at the first joint above the foot, leaving drumsticks attached to the body.

  3. Make a small vertical cut in skin and pull it away from the breast and sides.

  4. Pull as much of the meat out in the open as possible, using fingers to separate the skin from the drumsticks.

  5. Cut at the vent and neck to remove skin from bird.

  6. Make a horizontal cut below the breast and pull out entrails if you didn’t do so in the field.

  7. Wipe the inside with a clean with paper towels.

Now it’s time to wash, wrap and freeze your prize possessions or prepare them for one of the greatest meals you’ve ever enjoyed.

1 arrow pointClick here to see a larger view of the Field Dressing Gamebirds guide.

 

Field Dressing Gamebirds: five easy steps.

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For more information about field dressing gamebirds, visit Finally No More Gammy Gamebirds: Field-to-Table Tricks for Delicious Wild Game Meals at Bass Pro Shops 1Source.

 

Tagged under Read 9111 times Last modified on August 23, 2017
Gerald Almy
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Gerald Almy has been a full-time outdoor writer for over 35 years, with articles published in over 200 publications. He has written hunting and fishing columns for many newspapers both in Virginia and Texas, as well as the Washington Post. He has written two books on fishing and contributed chapters to a number of hunting books. He has won many awards for his writing. In 2008, a feature he developed for Field & Stream and wrote for five years called “Best Days of the Rut,” was nominated for a National Magazine Award.

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