Best way to field dress game birds?


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Guvnor
August 15, 2009, 08:37 PM
I will be hunting for the first time this coming fall, but I have no idea on how to properly clean a bird.

What the best/easiest way to dress game birds like doves, quail, grouse, pheasant, etc. If there is a way that minimizes the amount of guts handling involved, id like to learn it...as it will be my first time attempting such a thing and im still a little grossed out at the prospect.

Any advice appreciated...Thanks!

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MCgunner
August 15, 2009, 08:44 PM
I just breast out doves. The others on the list I'd wanna pick the whole bird. Doves ain't worth messin' with, ducks or geese, either. I can do doves without a knife. Just pick or skin the breast off, stick your thumb up under the breast bone at the bottom and peel back. Break off the wings and you're done. Only way to go when you have a limit to clean. Done before you can finish your beer. :D

Cosmoline
August 15, 2009, 08:47 PM
I've never bothered to field dress grouse and ptarmigan. You just hang them on a leather loop and take them home. Once there just slit the breast open in the middle--the skin is very thin--and peel back, then filet out the meat. If there's other meat on those birds I've never found it. But the feathers and tail can be saved for arts and crafts stuff.

I've heard of the Europeans letting them hang--guts and all--in a cool shed for extended periods until they soften up, but I've never been willing to risk it ;-)

3pairs12
August 15, 2009, 08:48 PM
Just pick or skin the breast off, stick your thumb up under the breast bone at the bottom and peel back
I switch these steps. I jab my thumb under the breast rip it out and then peel the skin off. I would pluck the whole quail, back in the day when I lived where there are actually some. In any case you wll end up with some blood on your hands. After one good day dove hunting you'll get over it though.

AKElroy
August 15, 2009, 08:55 PM
Done before you can finish your beer.

+1 on the Dove process; I would only add that you want to do this when the birds are still warm, before you get home. The wings are less flexible when the bird is cold, and the breast feathers are tougher to extract cleanly. Also, you DO NOT want the mess in your yard; you will be finding feathers for months. I sit on the tailgate & breast them out before I leave the field.

Take ziplock bags and handi wipes; and of course a cooler w/ ice.

Guvnor
August 15, 2009, 09:00 PM
Thanks for all the help!

Lemme make sure im on the same page...So you basically remove the breast, eliminating the need to take out the guts first? Can this technique be used on the bigger birds also like pheasant/quail?

How do you "dispose" of the remaining bird carcass out in the field? Is it acceptable to just toss it aside in the woods?

And should the breast then be put on ice as soon as possible, or will it be ok until I get home?

Sorry for all the questions but im a total greenhorn.

AKElroy
August 15, 2009, 09:10 PM
I can only give Dove advice, but here is my process: After packing up the guns, I sit on the tailgate & count the birds. Occasionally, one might hypothetically find more than the legal limit in ones bag. If this ever happens to you, I am sure you will do the right thing and turn yourself in. What you DO NOT want to do is toss 16 plucked breasts into a cooler in a 12 max season.

Second, I pull both wings back with my left hand, and then pinch off all of the feathers on the breast. Then, I use kitchen meat snips (scissors) to snip off both wings nearly flush to the breast. Then, holding the bird in the palm of one hand, take the opposite thumb & shove it into the soft area under the breast. (for lack of a better term, you are shoving a thumb up the Dove's kiester). Once fully inserted, pop up the breast like a beer tab. Any guts will be left behind. Drop in ziplock bag, repeat hopefully 11 more times a day. I leave the de-breasted carcasses in the field; but check with your landowner & make sure they do not have an issue with that. Most do not care about bird remains as much as discarded shells.

As an asside, ring all necks as soon as you pick up the downed bird. Many a bird will fly out of your bag as soon as you open it for failure to heed this advice, much to the enjoyment of your hunting buds.

oneounceload
August 15, 2009, 09:28 PM
Before you just toss the rest of the remains, know your state laws....some require a wing or other evidence of the bird genus and sex while transporting, some collect them to help with wildlife mgt. I have a bird knife that has a gut hook as well as a slender blade - works great for pheasant, chukar, etc.

If blood and guts on your hands bother you, take along some of the exam latex gloves - I buy them by the 2 pack box at Sam's club- use them anytime I don't want stuff on my hands (especially cleaners since I wear contacts) - they work great. One place I hunted used hot scalding water and a plucking machine for the pheasant - quick and easy.

Don't forget to pick out the shot - they hurt to bite down on........

Get them cleaned quickly and cooled down on ice. Then stock up on cream of mushroom soup for gravy with the pheasant......

dakotasin
August 15, 2009, 09:41 PM
for pheasant, assuming you have not broken the neck, lay the bird on its back, step on the wings tight to the body, and pull the feet slow and steady up toward you. and you're done, just like that... if you had to wring its neck, you'll still have some limited success w/ stepping on its wings, and is worth trying as it might save you some knife work...

MCgunner
August 15, 2009, 09:46 PM
I've never bothered to field dress grouse and ptarmigan. You just hang them on a leather loop and take them home. Once there just slit the breast open in the middle--the skin is very thin--and peel back, then filet out the meat. If there's other meat on those birds I've never found it. But the feathers and tail can be saved for arts and crafts stuff.

Filleting the breast meat works for ducks and geese, too.

3pairs12
August 15, 2009, 11:24 PM
Before you just toss the rest of the remains, know your state laws....some require a wing or other evidence of the bird genus and sex while transporting,

Good point.

45Badger
August 15, 2009, 11:48 PM
A neat trick I learned for grouse-

Place bird on ground, breast up. Spread wings, and step on them, with your feet close to the bird's shoulder. Grab legs in one hand and pull firmly and steadily up. Bird will "invert", breast will burst through skin, and wings will dislocate. Tug beast loose from wings (it's easy) and stick it in a bag. Sounds gross, but it work great. No muss, no fuss.

KenWP
August 16, 2009, 12:13 AM
If you happen to get some ducks and geese and want to pluck the feathers you will have a lot of down left. To remove the down fill a large pot with water and get it hot and then melt a couple of bars of wax in it. the wax floats on the top and when you dip the birds in it coats the down and then you just peal off the down and have a nice clean bird. We actually had a special pot for ducks and geese that was just wax at one time but that gets expensive. We just added the wax back in the pot and then skimmed off the down and feathers and reused it.

bejay
August 16, 2009, 10:25 PM
you can remove the breast on quail similiar to doves however most will atleast save the legs and breast on quail.

MCgunner
August 16, 2009, 10:37 PM
I've never killed a lot of quail. I've always picked the whole bird. The legs are worth doing it for if nothing else.

JWF III
August 17, 2009, 12:12 AM
would only add that you want to do this when the birds are still warm, before you get home. The wings are less flexible when the bird is cold, and the breast feathers are tougher to extract cleanly. Also, you DO NOT want the mess in your yard; you will be finding feathers for months. I sit on the tailgate & breast them out before I leave the field.


Admittedly I do this too. But by USFW regs, this is illegal to do to an migratory game bird. The head and one wing must remain attached till you get home.

know your state laws....some require a wing or other evidence of the bird genus and sex while transporting,

State laws would pertain to non-migraory birds. Doves, ducks, geese swans, cranes, rails, coots, etc. fall under Federal Law.

Wyman

ETA- The best trick I know for ducks (puddlers especially) is that there is no need to pluck them to remove the breast. Lay them on their back, pinch the breast skin with both hands, and pull apart. The skin will tear. Slide your index and middle fingers under the skin, and peel back. You're left with nice clean breasts waiting to be filleted out. To the best of my knowledge this doesn't work on Wood Ducks. (At least it's never worked for me.) I think their skin is too thin. It tears leaving some skin attached to the breasts.

countertop
August 17, 2009, 12:38 AM
Heres a good link on cleaning quail (http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/layout/set/print/Other-Services/Education/Hunter/Tips-and-Techniques/How-To/How-to-Clean-a-Quail)

Here's a guy cleaning dove (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTTfLmK1u84)

MCgunner
August 17, 2009, 09:38 AM
All I ever did was just leave a wing attached. That's what the federal law requires. Easy to break it off when you get home. My boat trips to the land cut (a hot duck hunting area south of me accessible only by boat) involved a lot of time to get there and back and an overnight camp. Bringing home the birds to clean is not an option. When I hunt locally, I do it when I get home. I often clean doves in the field, though, and will leave on a wing.

3pairs12
August 17, 2009, 11:04 AM
How do you "dispose" of the remaining bird carcass out in the field? Is it acceptable to just toss it aside in the woods?

And should the breast then be put on ice as soon as possible, or will it be ok until I get home?


Yes and yes . I just toss into the woods and then throw the breast in a freezer bag, if I have a cooler I will throw them in it if not they are ussually fine until you get hom. Although I dove hunt within 5 minutes of the house. If you drive more than 1/2 hour you might want to make sure you put them on ice.

Tim the student
August 17, 2009, 01:12 PM
for pheasant, assuming you have not broken the neck, lay the bird on its back, step on the wings tight to the body, and pull the feet slow and steady up toward you. and you're done, just like that... if you had to wring its neck, you'll still have some limited success w/ stepping on its wings, and is worth trying as it might save you some knife work...

This is the best trick ever.

homers
August 17, 2009, 06:25 PM
Youtube has many videos showing the "step and their wings and pull" technique.

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