Can you eat wild turkey?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat wild turkey?” and discuss why it tastes dry?

Can you eat wild turkey?

Yes, you can eat wild turkey. All turkeys were formerly free-roaming. Wild animals tend to have harder flesh, and preparing and cooking wild meat requires more time and work. A lot of people don’t like wild turkey meat because it’s so dry. 

In order to keep as much moisture as possible, there are precise methods for preparing and cooking wild turkey. Increasing numbers of wild turkeys are populating fields and roadsides, and it’s becoming more frequent to observe them. 

Some flocks have gotten so big that they can hold up to fifty birds. If you believe that hunting wild turkeys is simple, you may be making a frequent error.

Chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guinea fowls and quails are domesticated birds. Among these birds, turkey is one of the biggest. Turkey meat compares favorably with high protein content (up to 28%) and low-fat content (2-5%), more B group vitamins and lowest cholesterol content rather than in other poultry meat (1).

What’s Wrong With It? It’s Dry.

Domestic turkeys have been bred to reach a body mass of up to three times that of wild turkeys. Most of this increase is from larger muscles. The domestic turkey muscle had a greater number of smaller muscle fibers than the wild turkey. The amount of collagen in the domestic turkey muscle was also lower than wild turkeys, likely contributing to meat tenderness (2).

Meat tenderness, a mechanical measure, is a major component contributing to these qualities. Meat quality changes, including tenderness, have been associated with intensive genetic selection in the turkey industry. Many genes associated with muscle qualities have been identified as being differentially expressed in selected turkey lines, including genes regulating the extracellular matrix within the muscle, the major contributor to meat tenderness. Meat tenderness is correlated with the amount of connective tissue predominantly at the fascicle level within the perimysium, which is made up mostly of collagen. Studies found that the adult domestic turkey muscles had significantly less collagen content than the adult wild turkeys (2).

Unlike domesticated meat, wild game meat is always going to be drier. Preparation and care of the wild game are so crucial. Field dressing the animal as soon as possible if you are hunting for your supper will ensure that you get a delicious meal. Even if you want to roast the whole bird in the oven, as is customary for Thanksgiving dinner, you will still have to remove the entrails.

Studies showed that, in the case of domestic turkey, white turkey meat (breast) was found to contain 11.4-12.0% fat, while red meat (ham) contained 20.3-21.7% fat (3). For the wild turkey, the fat values were 0.91% and 9.54% for white and red meats, respectively (4).

There is a misconception that wild turkeys cannot be eaten because of their untamed nature. However, this is comprehensible since the flesh is somewhat different.

How to Prepare a Wild Turkey for Field Dressing

  • The anus should be cut from the bottom of the breast all the way up to the crotch.
  • Cut off the body parts
  • If you intend to consume some, put them in a plastic bag and store them in a cool, dark area.
  • Anus, which is located between the pelvic bones, should be found. Remove the adenoids
  • Locate the breast’s fatty tissue on the top. The breast song is a kind of folk song. Remove the excess fat.
  • Remove the weeds from the field
  • The skin around the breast should be removed if the bird is not being cooked as a whole

Cooking instructions for wild turkey

  • Preparation begins with removing the feathers and cleaning out the cavity of the bird Make a plastic bag out of the organs if you want to consume any of them. Use your hands to locate where the breast and wing meat meet. From here, remove the wings. Cut the neck and the thighs below the knees, as well as the arms and the hands.
  • Scald the chicken first in a big saucepan of hot water before cooking it. For 45 seconds, scald the bird in water that is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This will aid in the feathers falling out of the pins. Remove all of the feathers from the bird.
  • Remove the filoplumes, commonly known as hair feathers, of the head immediately. You’ll need a lighter to achieve this. If you have a blowtorch, you should utilize it.
  • Apply a generous amount of butter or olive oil and any herbs and spices to the interior and outside of the bird’s cavities and skin. Thyme, parsley, and a few fresh rosemary sprigs are the greatest herbs. Finally, add some salt and pepper on top.
  • If you’re looking for a little more taste, wrap the legs with bacon.

Instructions for completing the task

  • If you plan to stuff the turkey, now is the time.
  • It’s time to sew once you’ve filled the turkey with stuffing and prepared the skin with olive oil and spices. Because of the feather plucking process, you should repair any torn areas. The first step is to secure the legs together with a simple knot. Before stitching the cavity shut, bring the legs back into the body.
  • If you don’t want the flesh to get tougher, don’t cover the turkey while it’s cooking. The breast side should be pointing downwards when presenting the turkey for roasting. This will allow the turkey to self-suffocate. The flesh will get harder if the turkey is totally covered.
  • The oven should be set at 325 degrees. One hour later, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest. But don’t forget to use the pan’s residual liquid to baste the turkey every 20 minutes or so.
  • Use a probe thermometer to check the temperature of the turkey’s breast and legs after one hour.
  • Separate the legs from the cavity and roast them in a skillet adjacent to the chicken if you are short on time.
  • The chicken should be left in the oven to finish cooking after you turn it over. Using a high-quality temperature probe, you can check when it’s ready. Once the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees, it is ready to be served.
  • Before carving the turkey, wrap it with aluminum foil and let it rest for a few minutes. You should wait at least 30 minutes before carving a bird that has been cooked.

To learn more about eating wild turkey click here

Other FAQs about Turkey that you may be interested in.

Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 2 years

Can you eat wild turkey eggs?

How long does deli turkey last?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat wild turkey?” and we discussed why it tastes dry?


  1. Igenbayev, Aidyn, et al. Fatty acid composition of female turkey muscles in Kazakhstan. J World Poultry Res, 2019, 9, 78-81.
  2. Stover, Kristin K., et al. Gastrocnemius Muscle Structural and Functional Changes Associated with Domestication in the Turkey. Anim Open Access J MDPI, 2021, 11, 7.
  3. Amirkhanov, Kumarbek, et al. Research article comparative analysis of red and white Turkey meat quality. Pakistan J Nutr, 2017, 16, 412-416.
  4. Ribarski, S., and M. Oblakova. Slaughter yield and quality of meat from wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris Vieillot) reared in hunting reserve in South Bulgaria. Trakia J Sci, 2016, 14.