How to Catch, Slaughter and Cook a Wild Turkey in the City

Sadly it’s probably already too late. I should have posted this article last week. You have to have the bird slaughtered at least 24 hours before you eat it, to let the meat rest. Also it’s a wild turkey, so you don’t know how old it is. Turkeys raised on farms are all slaughtered young. The older animals get, the less tender the meat is, so you’re going to have to slow cook a wild bird. Butterballs take several hours, an old wild turkey will take several hours longer.

So it’s hopeless this year. It’s too late to hunt a wild city turkey for Thanksgiving. You’re not prepared. This is for next year. You have a whole year to prepare.

A week ahead of time, start scouting locations for wild turkeys. They usually stay in one spot where they are safe from dogs. My friend had turkeys in her backyard up in Arlington, up over the slopes. She was near the woods. The turkey family would walk on the same path each morning to go to the stream and drink water. But it doesn’t matter what they do in the day. You have to find out where they roost at night. Hunt like a raccoon- at night, while they sleep.

Birds roost high up in trees at night. Even big ass turkeys. They fly up there. I raised chickens before and some of them would be 20, 30 feet up in the trees in the morning. They will generally sleep in the same place every night. So find out where they roost. But don’t fuck with them the first night. They might get scared and find some other place to crash.

Make sure you can climb the tree. Practice in the day time.

By the way this is all illegal, I think. Don’t let anyone see you. Hopefully the birds will be roosting in a public tree. It’s probably still illegal to catch a turkey in public within city limits. But who gives a shit. Are you celebrating America by eating a bird raised in freedom or by eating a bird raised in the turkey equivalent of Auschwitz? (Also the term “free range” literally means the turkeys have a 12×12 fenced mud patch to poop on outside the door of their slightly less populated concentration camp that only has to be open a couple hours a day). Or you can buy a pasture raised bird from a farmer for $75. Do you have $75? Me neither. When I was a farmer we sold poultry only to the rich.

So before going to catch the turkey at night, you need something to trap him in. A big sack might work, though I’d imagine they’d just flap around in there. A buggy with some kind of lid on it would be perfect. So, right before sunset, on the Monday night before Thanksgiving, go to Giant Eagle and take advantage of their new low prices! (yeah right), and wheel the buggy off the premises. You’re only borrowing it. Be sure to hose off all the poop, feathers and turkey blood before returning it. A piece of plywood would be sufficient for a lid, also chicken wire or the side of another buggy.

Wheel the buggy to the tree where the turkeys are sleeping. Be quiet or you’ll wake them. Climb the tree with all the silence and skill of a ninja. Crawl out on the limb to where the choice bird is snoozing. Get ready because the shit is about to hit the fan, and you.

Grab the bird from behind, hands on on either side, holding his wings so they don’t flap. When turkeys get excited, they flap their wings like assholes, and this can damage the meat. You don’t want to eat a bruised turkey. The turkey will let out a yell, and the rest of the turkeys will go ape shit, causing a ruckus. Position the bird under your arm like a football so you can effectively climb down the tree.

Get the bird in the cart and make sure the lid is secure. Also I would bring a sheet, because if you’re wheeling a turkey in a shopping cart down Penn Avenue people are going to ask questions. A sheet-covered, gobbling buggy leaving a trail of poop is much less obvious.

Wheel the bird back to your apartment. Don’t give it food. Give it water. It’ll probably be too upset to drink. Keep it in the dark and it might go back to sleep. Turn on some music in case it makes noise and your neighbors wonder what the hell is going on. If they ask, tell them you have Thanksgiving decorations that make gobble gobble noises.

Wait at least 12 hours before slaughtering the poor bastard. This ensures any food he’s eaten will pass through the craw, and we want this procedure to be sanitary.

Now this is going to be tricky. If you have access to a basement, slaughter it in the basement so the neighbors don’t ask questions. If you have to slaughter it on a porch, patio, or yard, get ready to deflect the neb-noses of neighbors with some kind of a distraction. I would get up early in the morning. Only really old people or people going to work are up early in the morning. The people going to work are too busy getting ready for work to notice, and really old people probably used to slaughter a turkey every year for Thanksgiving, so they’ll think you’re cool, and they’ll probably have opinions about technique.

Acting like a recent immigrant is one way to deflect suspicion. Dress in a puffy shirt and a black vest and an old man cap, smoke a pipe, have a mustache and say things like “Whata? You no have the turkey in America? We do this-a every year on Thonk-givins in Espan-ya!”

You need a turkey fryer, not to fry the turkey, but to fill that huge pot full of water and get it to scalding, but not boiling. Also some rope, and a sharp knife. A killing cone is preferable but most city people don’t have killing cones lying around. Grab the turkey by it’s feet and swing it gently from side to side. This will make the blood rush to his head so he’ll become dazed and will stop flapping his wings like an asshole so much. Tie the turkey up by his feet and take the knife and slice his neck with one quick cut. Blood should pour out fast at this point. If not you’re torturing the poor thing – be a little humane, dick. Try cutting again. With a sharp knife and a clean cut the turkey should die in 6 seconds.

After it’s dead, dip the turkey in the scalding water. This will loosen up the feathers. Take the feathers off. Have a hose ready so you can spray it off. Put it in a table and cut around the butthole and pull all his guts out. Keep the heart, liver, gizzard, feet and neck because that will make some kick ass stock. Throw the carcass on ice for 24 hours, at least. Not in the freezer, but in a cooler full of ice.

Hose all the blood up.

Cook that bastard early Thanksgiving in a slow cooker or in a pot for like 6 hours at least, until the meat is tender. It’ll be ready for din din.

Save all the feathers and some of the blood and decorate your apartment door with it. Everyone will think you’re crazy and you can have a nice, comfortable Thanksgiving drunk and alone.


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2 Responses to How to Catch, Slaughter and Cook a Wild Turkey in the City

  1. AMM says:

    Ok.. just stumbled upon your amazing and beautifully descriptive post while Googling ‘catching wild turkeys’. Okay, some context…
    I live in Hamilton Ontario (and like most, you likely aren’t familiar with my city.. ~600,000 people, “Canada’s Pittsburgh” essentially, about an hour from Buffalo NY and 4h from Pittsburgh). You see, this is a pretty urban area – we kinda fall into the Greater Toronto Area (~8 million people). So having a wild turkey in my tree was so bizarre and unheard-of for me!
    Anyway, I’ve read a few more of your posts, as your turkey one actually made me laugh hysterically. I’ve even shared it with a bunch of friends who find it equally hilarious. Your posts are great, and to get to the point, I love your page. Keep up the good work (and the “good fight”, against this crazy Republican mess). Kudos, my friend 🙂


    • sloover says:

      Thanks so much! Yes amazingly there are flocks of wild turkeys all over Pittsburgh. I’ve been away from Pittsburgh for about three years but I’m moving back at the end of the month. We will probably take a drive up to Toronto at some point this summer as we still have functioning passports and who knows if we’ll be allowed to renew them because my dark hair makes me look Mexican to Aryan eyes even though I’m Irish.


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