The Rest of the Story

The REAL Turkey Butchering Story

So, my daughter Kristel decided to raise some Heritage turkeys (six) and put them all in the freezer. We have butchered turkeys before, a number of years ago. NOT a fun experience. But she wanted to give it another try.

A few days before butchering them, however, she decided she would take them all but Sir Tom-Tom (the king) to the sales barn and sell them. We did not want to butcher all those turkeys (I think a moment of reality struck her.) They sold for a ton of money (like $85-$90 a turkey!) That buys a lot of hay for the horses.

Anyway, to get you all in the right frame of mind, we will start our butchering story with a one-minute video of Kristi trying to catch a turkey–any turkey!

Here is Sir Tom-Tom’s journey from King Gobbler to tasty Thanksgiving turkey. He was prepared in much the same way Andi and her family would have done it. Except this bird went into the oven instead of a roasting pit in the backyard.

1. First of all, one must catch the turkey. After caught (he was lonely because all of his friends had been taken to the sales barn the Saturday before), he was put into an old feed sack (I have spared you the images of his demise) and grandpa took care of killing the bird.

2. We wanted to keep the skin on the turkey so that meant the turkey must be plucked. This involved dipping the bird into 145-150 degree water for 30 seconds. This loosened the feathers and made them easy to pick off. I have spared you the image of the turkey dunked in the water.

(The porch roof slats are reflecting off the surface of the water)

3. Before plunging into the hot water, the turkey’s wings were cut off (too little meat on the wings to warrant plucking them). Besides, I wanted the wing feathers for my Goldtown Beginning giveaways because they are beautiful and look just like a wild turkey’s feathers. The tail “fan” of feathers was cut off before dipping too, to preserve the feathers. They are ruined if plunged into hot water. After cutting off these parts and making sure the water was the right temperature, what was left of Sir Tom-Tom was held under for 30 seconds.

Sir Tom-Tom’s feathers

4. Next, the turkey was tied by his feet with twine to one of the oak trees. It is much easier to pull of the feathers with gravity on your side. The feathers are pulled out in the opposite direction (like stroking a cat the wrong way). There were a gazillion feathers and they flew all over the place.

Hanging from his feet
Partly plucked.

5. Once the turkey was completely plucked (feathers removed), we gutted it. I have spared you those pictures. Images cannot do justice to the terrible smell involved, and you can use your imaginations. This is me arranging Sir Tom-Tom to look like a turkey before popping him into the freezer bag. After being dressed (that’s what you call plucking and gutting the bird to get it ready for the oven), he weighed 12.5 pounds. This is a good weight for a six-to-seven-month-old Heritage turkey (which are the closest domesticated turkey to the wild turkey).

Can’t wait to taste Sir Tom-Tom!
Sir Tom-tom tasted delicious!

One picture shows him out of the oven after an all-night brine soak and a season rub. Picture two shows all of the fluffy stuffing that came out of him. Yum!


This little fellow came to the window. I guess he saw us all enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner and wanted a “piece of the action,” so he hung around and stuffed his little beak with all of the hummingbird snacks he could find. Take a peek. This is an awesome creature!

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

44 thoughts on “The Rest of the Story

  1. My family has butchered like 5 pigs so I can imagine the smell Lol. And it is dirty business! My Romanian uncle comes over (well before we moved to Oklahoma) from Washington and he burns the pig while me and my 9 siblings scrape the skin off with knives. You have pig skin under you’re finger nails for


  2. Whoops, I posted the comment before I was done it was accident Lol.
    Anyway, you have pig skin under your nails for days! We have also butchered a rooster, rabbits, chickens, but sadly are dogs got to the turkeys and our pigs ate our ducks.


      1. Idk but the ducks wondered in the pigs cage and the ducks were no more. I think the pig thought they were a delicacy.🦃


      2. Bobcats eat the ducks here. One duck wandered around on one foot cuz the bobcat would reach his paw under the duck house and snag a drumstick. Isn’t that just awful? Finally, the bobcat got her paw stuck on a large nail and could not get away. So the youth leader at the church (like an Annie Oakley) came and shot the bobcat and the ducks were saved! The kids were devastated when they learned it was a mama bobcat (nursing) and they hunted and hunted for the babies but never found them. (The bobcat ate the cats too if they were not locked up.) NOW, we have field fencing not only around the main property but around all of the extra acres they are leasing for the horses and goats. No more bobcats getting through, and no more coyotes! And the fields are short now, so no more rattlesnakes lurking about. All in all a better place.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yayy! I’m glad that bobcat is gone! I hope now more bobcats come around. A few months ago we had some chickens and some young keets ( keets are like chickens) and a coyote got into the cage and killed all but five of our chickens😭 They got 25 of our chickens and keets. But thankfully our neighbor saw and shot and killed the coyote!


      1. Also we had 15 chickens and a racoon over a few nights killed all but 6 before we had a chance to do anything about it. they even killed the rooster!


  3. Mrs. M,
    When i tried to click on “Laughs and Literature” On the fans blog page it doesnt work…. all the other pictures/links work.


  4. We found the easiest way to catch turkeys is to get them up to a fence then rush at them and they panic stick there heads through the fence so you can grab them before they get there heads out. But I think it only works for wild turkeys

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We use our working dogs and so long as you go slow they don’t usally fly away but they some times and our wild turkeys see people now and again


      1. Yeah, catching, plucking, and cooking a turkey sounds like a little much. It would probably set me off turkey and chicken for months!


    1. We (at my daughter’s) have 2 pg mares, one older mare, a mini, and her foal, Colton. We are going to run a contest to guess the color of the papered horse, Jewels’ foal, next March!
      Scarlett’s foal will be 100 percent palomino so no guessing there. 🤪


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