[pagebreak] Upland Game
Birds should also be quickly dressed, but be sure you know the laws regarding species identification. Most states require you to leave the head or one fully feathered wing attached to each carcass. Many hunters prefer to "breast" the carcass and discard the wings and legs. Be sure the law allows you to do that. I'm not a fan of breasting birds. I enjoy the legs and wings, even on a bird as small as a dove or quail. I believe the extra work is worth it. As with small game, I'll pluck or skin my birds when they're still warm, if possible. This is especially true of birds with "tough" feathers, like geese and turkeys. Plucking a cold, stiff goose is an ordeal I prefer to avoid.
I simply cut the wings off at the mid-joint and the legs off at the knee joint, leaving a whole wing on if the law requires. After that I'll remove the head and pluck or skin. Next I'll make a small slit below the breastbone, insert two fingers into the cavity, pull out the innards and rinse out the cavity.
It's often difficult to clean your birds while you're working a dog in a field or hunting waterfowl from a blind. Usually you're too distracted. It's far better to deal with the birds as soon as you're done hunting. You can let the field-dressing chore for birds go a day or so if the air temperature is cold, but the quality of the meat will suffer. You should never allow small-game animals to go undressed overnight.
Turkeys Turkeys are typically breasted, but I love the legs and wings. My buddies have seen me digging around in garbage cans, pulling out fresh carcasses and removing the wings and legs, which include both the thighs and drumsticks. This meat is dark and tough and can have a slightly wild taste if prepared with no seasonings. I cook the legs and wings in a crock pot, along with a sliced onion and some salt, until the meat is ready to fall off the bones. Then I'll separate the meat froom the bones, cut it into chunks, and add it to a pot of cooked vegetables, including celery, carrots and more onion. Finally, I'll add my favorite spices, let the stew cook a bit more and serve it with noodles or over rice. I've converted many people who previously kept only the turkey breasts.