Snapping turtles

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ducks limited, Feb 8, 2004.

  1. Ducks limited

    Ducks limited Member

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    Does anyone know how to dress out snapping turtles, either soft or hard shelled?
    I have caught several over the years but have given them away. Turtle is soooooo good that we would like to dress some ourselves. Or, is there a book "Turtle Dressing for Dummy's?"
    Thanks ahead, Dave
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    First, take a hooked wire and get it to bite the hook, pull out and slice off the head, be aware that a removed head can have biteing reflexs after removal. Invert the turtle and enter the neck area with a slim skinning knife, keep it close to the inverted underside, slice and saw as needed, until you can seperate the underside shell. Remove the entricals and anything green, what remains is meat with a taste similar to oysters crossed with chicken. Cook as you would for chicken or rabbit. Its been years since I have had turtle but remember it fondly.
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Good instructions from moopups. There is a little crease that joins the belly to the back. Cutting is easier when you run the knife in the joint.. The tricky part for me is skinnin the legs. A large part of the meat is legs. They will jerk them legs away from you long after they are dead. I find nailing the feet to a tree or whatever is handy gives you a better shot at skinning them. You will be surprised at the amount of ediable meat they have. There is very little to discard.
    My sister used to brown them in a skillet, then put them in the oven until done. They don't have any swampy taste. They say there is 7 different flavors in a turtle that are similar to domestic animals that we are familar with. They are good eating. Don't worry if they try to crawl out of the skillet. They mostly never make it..
     
  4. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    You know what Turtle taste like to me? :rolleyes: Turtle,very good.

    big rockpile
     
  5. witness1864

    witness1864 Guest

    I have cleaned a few in my adult years but remembered my uncle cutting the head off and attaching a garden hose and turning on the water. It blew up like a baloon for the most part and made it easier to clean. The bottom plate is the worst, need to find the joint (Softer area) at the edges and that usually dosen't run all the way through. Thick knife, or Aviation snips with all else failing. Also I've been told it is better to put the turtles into a clean barrel filled with fresh water for a few days before butchering to clean the flavor up a little. I have never had a barrel to test this, they have always tasted alright to me... P.S. don't forget the meat at the top inner shell, that's one of my favorite parts.
     
  6. Jeff Hathaway

    Jeff Hathaway Active Member

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    Well, finally a post that got me to register!

    Ohio Department of Natural Resources used to have a webpage showing how to clean a snapping turtle. I just did a quick check there and didn't find it, but perhaps it is still there somewhere. I've never done one personally, so I can't offer you any tips.

    A couple of things about snapping turtles, though:

    The softshelled ones are a different species. Oddly enough they're called softshelled turtles... They will certainly bite, though.

    Speaking generally, turtles have evolved a life history that allows virtually all of the eggs/babies to get eaten as long as the few that survive to breeding age live for a very long time. And they do, as adults have few predators and may reproduce for decades. Harvesting by humans (not to mention road mortality) reverses this- we take the adults. Virtually every study ever done shows that this is not sustainable. There isn't a surplus of adults like there is with deer! You could eat all the turtle eggs you want without having much impact but eating the adults eventually causes the population to decline.

    Also, snapping turtles eat fish, amongst other things, and like many predators they bioaccumulate toxins such as methyl mercury, mirex, etc. You're probably aware that younger, smaller fish are safer to eat than older, larger fish which have had more time to accumulate these things in their flesh. Now extrapolate this to a predator that also scavenges lots of dead things and lives for decades building up toxins. Not my idea of a great meal.

    Cheers,

    Jeff Hathaway
     
  7. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    I don't know, of course. Don't have them here. What I do know is how to find stuff on the internet. That's easy - use Google http://www.google.com . When I did that, I found lot's of things using the search phrase "How to clean snapping turtle".

    One of them was http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/conmag/1996/jun/jn96john.html. One tip which seems to make sense is to parboil them about five minutes - sort of like preparing chicken legs to make soup, except for longer.

    There were other finds on that google search as well.
     
  8. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    In Missouri there is a Season on Softshell Turtles.

    big rockpile
     
  9. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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  10. The first thing that i do is shoot the turtle in the head with a 22. Next i take a hatchet and cut the head off just about the eyes. Then take the hatchet and cut the feet (claws) off, if you don't they will scratch you. Next cut the shin around the bottom plate and take the hatchet and cut the plate on each side to free it. Then gut it, hand it up with a i/4 inch rope tied just behind the head. Use shinning pliers and knife to get all the skin off. Take your knife and run it between the meat and the top shell. The hind legs and tail will be in one piece and the neck and front legs will be in one piece. After this you can cut it up as you want. If it is a large turtle don't forget to take out the back strip. You will have to cut or chop the rib bones from the top of the shell to get it out. They will dress out about 60% of the live weight. I catch mine and put them in a extra stock tank that i have sometimes leaving them for 2 or three months until a convenient time to dress them. Also in the clean water they really get alot cleaner. I just feed them anything extra that i have in the garden. They are not choosey about what they eat. Just be careful, a half dozed turtles in a tank in hot weather gets awfully cranky.
    Mike
     
  11. Thought of one other thing i should have put in my reply above. Don't ever put turtle meat in a pressure cooker. It foams when you cook it and will stop up the vent on the cooker. Causing a big BOOM!
     
  12. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My late father-in-law recomended pouring boiling water on the belly plate after you wack the head off to make the legs relax. I haven't tested it yet myself.
     
  13. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    If you don't want to eat them yourself, I don't believe I'd give them away, unless you really, really like the people you are giving them to.

    I haven't checked prices recently, but a good snapper generally brings about $1/pound - rough. :eek:
     
  14. bulldinkie

    bulldinkie Well-Known Member

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    Every year we get about 6 large a foot round turtles.When we bought the farm there was a huge turtle in the pond.He was 2' around.He left,never to be seen.again.We raise white mute swans and we get alot mallards we have to watch. One year we had a mother mallard and 14 ducklings every day it was 2 missing till it got down to 6 when the turtle bit the back end off the mother.she died.we usually give them away.The way they smell yuk you guys eat them Ill pass.vicious things.
     
  15. Ducks limited

    Ducks limited Member

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    Wow! I had no idea there would be so much response. Thank you! We will think of y'all when dining on Mr. Turtle.
     
  16. Case

    Case Well-Known Member

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    While you're contemplating all these cullinary delights you might also want to keep in mind that snapping turtles are highly aggressive and quick. Large ones can easily cut an inch and a half thick branch in two with their jaws.

    Fingers are even easier for them to whack off.
     
  17. Jeff Hathaway

    Jeff Hathaway Active Member

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    Of course, it might be considered semantics, but snapping turtles are not aggressive towards humans. They won't chase you down and eat your fingers! They will defend themselves if they feel the need, and since their shell on the underside is incomplete they get defensive quite easily when they're on land.

    The point is important though- if you're going to be catching snapping turtles, respect what their jaws are capable of!

    Jeff Hathaway
     
  18. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    These animals live for a looong time. I watched a show on the History channel about an ex-hunter of turtles that found stone arrowheads & musket balls in alligator snapping turtles. Too many turtles in a pond can ruin it,but I don't think we should kill all of them, or even the biggest.Turtles in a pond=a good balance of nature.
     
  19. heelpin

    heelpin Well-Known Member

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    BE AWARE! Loggerheads (Alligator Snappers) are a protected species. I don't know the full range of these but they are located in Louisana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Loggerheads have a very rough back where the other species are smooth. If a Loggerhead clamps down on you, you'll have to wait til it thunders to get loose.

    Tom