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Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby JonBailey » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:23 pm

What is the best thing to do with game birds now that you have just taken them in the field out of Rover's soft mouth?

Hopefully, we all end up with soft-mouth dogs.

Pheasants and other birds on walk-up hunts are normally put in the game compartment of the hunter's vest until the hunt is over.

I often see doves and ducks in videos laid out on the ground until the shooting session is over for the day.

Some duck hunters use a special rack to hold their harvested game by the neck.

Should doves, pheasants, ducks, quail and grouse be breasted in the field or at home?

Should breast meat be placed in a cooler soon once removed?

Is there any reason to remove fat from dove breast? Wouldn't that make them taste better?

Of course, breast meat should be washed well in cold running water and every last piece of down should be removed.

What is done with the remains of the birds and waterfowl once they are breasted out?

Some people opt to take the thighs also when breasting pheasants.

Do ziplock freezer bags work well for keeping breast/thigh meat frozen?

Pheasants and other birds on walk-up hunts are normally put in the game compartment of the hunter's vest until the hunt is over.

I often see doves and ducks in videos laid out on the ground until the shooting session is over for the day.

Some duck hunters use a special rack to hold their harvested game by the neck.

Should doves, pheasants, ducks, quail and grouse be breasted in the field or at home?

Should breast meat be placed in a cooler soon once removed?

Is there any reason to remove fat from dove breast? Wouldn't that make them taste better?

Of course, breast meat should be washed well in cold running water and every last piece of down should be removed.

What is done with the remains of the birds and waterfowl once they are breasted out?

Some people opt to take the thighs also when breasting pheasants.

Do ziplock freezer bags work well for keeping breast/thigh meat frozen?
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Mountaineer » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:12 am

With woodcock, I breast out the little morsels and cook them in the motel room or field, when possible, as an appetizer prior to eating dinner.
Cooked rare, they are superb.

The rest....it just depends, all based upon the conditions of weather and bird and need.
The operative word for all re gamebirds taken is ......respect.
The particulars will vary for each of us.

I have had some hard-mouthed pups.....no great issue, do not make it one.
imho
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby cjhills » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:36 am

Mountaineer wrote:With woodcock, I breast out the little morsels and cook them in the motel room or field, when possible, as an appetizer prior to eating dinner.
Cooked rare, they are superb.

The rest....it just depends, all based upon the conditions of weather and bird and need.
The operative word for all re gamebirds taken is ......respect.
The particulars will vary for each of us.

I have had some hard-mouthed pups.....no great issue, do not make it one.
imho

In the states I hunt in you need to leave a leg, head or wing attached...…………...Cj
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Mountaineer » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:14 am

cjhills wrote:In the states I hunt in you need to leave a leg, head or wing attached...…………...Cj


Sure, ”.....it just depends, all based upon the conditions of weather and bird and.......need....”....transport can be a need ie with pheasants.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby fishvik » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:19 pm

Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby JonBailey » Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:09 pm

fishvik wrote:Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.


Can't one legally breast the dove in the field without leaving on a wing as long as they keep the debreasted dove carcass for transport home?
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby ezzy333 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:14 pm

JonBailey wrote:
fishvik wrote:Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.


Can't one legally breast the dove in the field without leaving on a wing as long as they keep the debreasted dove carcass for transport home?


Why wouldn't you take them home to clean?
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby fishvik » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:51 pm

JonBailey wrote:
fishvik wrote:Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.


Can't one legally breast the dove in the field without leaving on a wing as long as they keep the debreasted dove carcass for transport home?


No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby JonBailey » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:15 pm

fishvik wrote:
JonBailey wrote:
fishvik wrote:Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.


Can't one legally breast the dove in the field without leaving on a wing as long as they keep the debreasted dove carcass for transport home?


No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.


I am afraid the meat might spoil unless the breast is pulled out of the bird's carcass in the field.

This concern is especially considerable during the hot weather of dove season.

Can a whole unbreasted bird be transported home in time without spoilage? Gutting a limit of doves in the field seems too messy and tedious.
It seems to me that getting the breast out as soon as possible is the easiest way to go.

How long can an ungutted bird keep in a cooler?

I figure the farthest I may have to ever travel from home by pickup truck to hunt birds in SW Idaho is 200 miles max.

The goal is convenience (little mess and fuss as possible), being in compliance with game regs and keeping meat fresh.


A hunter needs a sensible plan to get killed fowl home in unspoiled condition without getting in trouble by the game warden.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby ezzy333 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:27 pm

I will make an uneducated guess that there are not many more than a few million going home many days during the season to be dressed that night or maybe even the next morning.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Mountaineer » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:12 am

Many folks, if a question arises, will ask the DNRs of the states involved re any requirements for legal bird transport....with fretting thus set aside.

Many folks, in warm-er areas, will include an ice chest, and ice, to use as a bed for transported birds....cleaned or uncleaned.

Many folks, with pheasants for example, hang an unplucked and ungutted bird for a period of time and controlled conditions to age the bird in a desire to improve the flavour.
Immediate removal of the “guts” can make a difference, to me, if the “guts” have been “disturbed” by the shot and hanging never appealed again, to me. Most...who hang game birds do so based upon the condition of the bird harvested.
Such aging of meat is centuries old.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby gunguy » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:50 am

I have always just brought the entire bird home to clean later that evening or the next. I just keep the birds in the truck bed until I get home. That being said I hunt in the fall when temperatures are fairly low so spoilage on the drive home isn't a concern. I recently listened to a podcast with Hank Shaw, a wild game cookbook author, and he said he will keep the bird intact and in a cooler until he gets home. He will then keep the whole bird in the fridge for 3 days prior to cleaning. He said this makes plucking easier. I have on a few occasions kept whole birds in the fridge for up to 5 days prior to cleaning with no ill effects.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Pedro » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:38 pm

fishvik wrote:
JonBailey wrote:
fishvik wrote:Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.


Can't one legally breast the dove in the field without leaving on a wing as long as they keep the debreasted dove carcass for transport home?


No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.


Not true. Dove can be cleaned without leaving head/wing.

From Feds:
Species identification requirement No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

We clean all our dove in the field. Coons have to eat too.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby fishvik » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:31 am

No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.[/quote]

Not true. Dove can be cleaned without leaving head/wing.

From Feds:
Species identification requirement No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

We clean all our dove in the field. Coons have to eat too.[/quote]

Pedro maybe things are different in Kansas but here in Idaho.

p. 13 of the 2018-19 Idaho Migratory Bird Hunting Regs

"Species Identification"
To legally transport any migratory game bird, one
feathered wing or head must be left attached at all
times while being transported until they reach their final
destination."
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby ezzy333 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:45 am

fishvik wrote:No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.


Not true. Dove can be cleaned without leaving head/wing.

From Feds:
Species identification requirement No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

We clean all our dove in the field. Coons have to eat too.[/quote]

Pedro maybe things are different in Kansas but here in Idaho.

p. 13 of the 2018-19 Idaho Migratory Bird Hunting Regs

"Species Identification"
To legally transport any migratory game bird, one
feathered wing or head must be left attached at all
times while being transported until they reach their final
destination."[/quote]

Come on folks, you know most hunting and fishing regs are state law and different from each other.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Mountaineer » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:52 am

fishvik wrote:No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.


Not true. Dove can be cleaned without leaving head/wing.

From Feds:
Species identification requirement No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

We clean all our dove in the field. Coons have to eat too.[/quote]

Pedro maybe things are different in Kansas but here in Idaho.



p. 13 of the 2018-19 Idaho Migratory Bird Hunting Regs

"Species Identification"
To legally transport any migratory game bird, one
feathered wing or head must be left attached at all
times while being transported until they reach their final
destination."[/quote]


Having a little difficulty in understanding.
I understand that Eurasian collared doves are best left with an identifying wing, etc. in Idaho re transport in order to separate them from the bag limit on mourning doves.
Are you saying that mourning doves also need a wing attached for transport? :?:
Never heard of that one before re mourning doves so, it will be good to learn.

https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/migratory-birds/doves

Woodcock, a migratory(Fed led :) control) bird, also do not require the wing attached in transport by the Feds....unless I have misunderstood for many moons.
I do save a woodcock wing to send in for analysis but.....I have been wrong many times before.
Pheasants require a remaining wing, of course.....but that is from the whole male-female thing.

Again, folks asking their own DNR or involved DNRs would be the surest way to the true skinny on all such questions.

Thanks....I look forward to learning.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Pedro » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:21 pm

fishvik wrote:No the meat must be attached to proof of species. And as Ezzy said why not just take home the whole bird.


Not true. Dove can be cleaned without leaving head/wing.

From Feds:
Species identification requirement No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

We clean all our dove in the field. Coons have to eat too.[/quote]

Pedro maybe things are different in Kansas but here in Idaho.

p. 13 of the 2018-19 Idaho Migratory Bird Hunting Regs

"Species Identification"

To legally transport any migratory game bird, one
feathered wing or head must be left attached at all
times while being transported until they reach their final
destination."[/quote]

Yep, looked up Idaho regs, and read the quote referenced above. Confusing part is that above quote is in the Sand Hill Crane regulations. The dove hunting regulations do not state that an identifier is required, unless you shoot Eurasions and do not want them to count against your limit. Idaho should clarify that.

https://idfg.idaho.gov/sites/default/fi ... 8-2019.pdf

Sunflowers are looking good. Can't wait till Sep 1!
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby JONOV » Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:49 am

JonBailey wrote:What is the best thing to do with game birds now that you have just taken them in the field out of Rover's soft mouth?
Put it in the pouch on your vest or your bucket or cooler or backpack.

JonBailey wrote:Hopefully, we all end up with soft-mouth dogs.
True hardmouth is a bit rarer than people worry about, or otherwise a learned behavior.

JonBailey wrote:Pheasants and other birds on walk-up hunts are normally put in the game compartment of the hunter's vest until the hunt is over.

I often see doves and ducks in videos laid out on the ground until the shooting session is over for the day.
One way to do it is to keep a pile close to you to keep an eye on the limit if you're lucky to do it. Otherwise I get them out of the way, in a bucket/cooler, something...
JonBailey wrote: Some duck hunters use a special rack to hold their harvested game by the neck.
Mostly for pictures in my experience, unless you and your buddies have a true banner day. Although, we use them at duck camp when there are eight of us to transport them.

JonBailey wrote:Should doves, pheasants, ducks, quail and grouse be breasted in the field or at home?
The easy answer is home. If you're going to get home that night, do it at home.

JonBailey wrote:Should breast meat be placed in a cooler soon once removed?
There's more than one way to skin a cat. The easy convenient way is to clean your birds, bag them and put them in the freezer. A true gourmand would be more intentional, probably aging/hanging the game, I know one gentleman that has a root cellar for that purpose, and another that uses a mini-fridge for it. They age pheasants and partridge for a few days before cleaning.

JonBailey wrote:Is there any reason to remove fat from dove breast? Wouldn't that make them taste better?
Most wild birds have a lot less fat than you'd think. Doves are delicious, the filet mignon of the sky in bite size chunks, and I've never had a need to trim fat off them.

JonBailey wrote:Of course, breast meat should be washed well in cold running water and every last piece of down should be removed.

What is done with the remains of the birds and waterfowl once they are breasted out?
I take what feathers I want for fly tying, my wife takes some for crafting, the rest go in a plastic bag, tied off, and into the garbage.

JonBailey wrote:Some people opt to take the thighs also when breasting pheasants.

Do ziplock freezer bags work well for keeping breast/thigh meat frozen?
As well as anything. A food saver is nice if appearance and packaging is important to you. Basically a vacuum bag that will get it into a package that very nearly resembles what you get at Costco when you buy chicken breast.


JonBailey wrote:
fishvik wrote:Early in the season I skin and gut birds in the field and put them in a cooler with ice. The guts go to the dogs. Later in the season I just gut in the field, and reward the dogs. I usually keep all the meat from my birds up to the first joint in the wing along with drumsticks on birds bigger than quail. Quail and Doves get breasted and I leave on a wing.


Can't one legally breast the dove in the field without leaving on a wing as long as they keep the debreasted dove carcass for transport home?

Check your state laws, and ask a Game Warden if unclear. I will repeat, Check your state laws.

It varies a bit by state.
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Re: Handling dead game birds: cleaning, butchering storage

Postby Meskousing » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:15 pm

I have not tried this yet, but ABSOLUTELY will. Per Hank Shaw in "Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail" he recommends hanging grouse and other similar birds for 3-5 days before plucking them. He believes that the hanging adds flavor from the skin. Also, it makes plucking easier and that the skin imparts the flavor of wild game into the meat. I WILL be trying it.
*He says that it should be done in about 55F.

Hank Shaw is a renowned wild game chef and has written several books on cooking wild game.
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