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Question by mop4pom. Uploaded on July 29, 2010
Assuming its still alive, you will need to dispatch it. Place a stick or something in front of it to get it to snap and extend its head. Now, with lightning fast reflexes, sever the head with a hatchet or the like. Alternatively, put a .22 through the top of its head and then remove the head. They slow down a lot once you do that.
Now, as for cleaning, there are two schools of thought. Some people plunge the turtle into a large vat of boiling water for a few seconds, claiming that it makes the skin easier to remove. I have found that it makes the skin much softer and easier to peel away, but also prone to tearing as you try to skin the turtle. I don't boil them.
Place the turtle on its back, and seperate the lower shell from the upperscraping the meat from the shell and leaving it on the carcass. You should end up with a clean lower shell seperated from the rest of the animal.
Skin out the legs, neck and tail as you would any other animal. It is tedious, but there is quite a bit of delicious meat.
After skinning/deboning the carcass, you should have an empty shell containing only some thin "tenderloins" protected by rib-like bones that protrude from the upper shell. Do not leave this meat. It is delicious and well worth the work of removing it. Use bolt cutters to snip the bones, and then scrape the meat away from the shell.
The meat is delicious sauted in garlic and butter, battered and deep fried, marinated and grilled on skewers, or my personal favorite, used to make traditional turtle soup.
mop, you got to be joking!
Critter is full of parasites and other nasty viruses and bacteria!
My uncle caught one and prepared it basically as Greenhead said. He let it soak in a tub of clean water for a week or two. Changed it every couple of days. Watch out for the head. It can still bite even though its been cut off.
It's illegal to kill snapping turtles in most states. Best to make sure your not killing an endangered animal and becoming a game theif?
Effective June 14, 2006, the United States listed 13 native freshwater turtle species in Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - the alligator snapping turtle and all 12 species of map turtle. Listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys temminckii, is North America's largest freshwater turtle and may reach a size of up to 250 pounds.
Once a species is listed under CITES, any international trade in the species, either as live specimens or parts or products, farmed or wild-caught, must be accompanied by a valid CITES permit or certificate. But this rule does not apply to trade within the United States.
state of indiana alows the takeing of "common snapping turtle" dont know about others, ive never done it but it sounds like greenhead knows his stuff.
Great answer Greenhead and + 1 for you sir!!!
To cook a turtle, drop the dead turtle's body and the shell (without the head) into a huge pot of boiling water. Boil it for eight minutes. This way, the cleaning becomes easier. Remove the turtle from the pot and let it cool down adequately. With the help of a sharp knife, slit away the lower shell or the plastron. Remove the intestines and other abdominal organs. Cut the meaty portion away from the top shell. Do not ignore the legs and tail which taste the best. Do not worry about the skin; it peels off easily after boiling...
Cut the snapper turtle (or any other edible turtle) into cubes of meat. Cook it in a hot frying pan with the help of cooking oil, till the meat attains a brownish colour. Also add a chopped onion, a couple of chopped garlic cloves and continue cook till the meat turns brown all over. Now drain the oil from the frying pan. Remove the meat, the garlic and onion and place them all in a saucepan covered with a lid. Before closing the lid on the saucepan, make sure that you add about 5 sliced potatoes and 2 cans of tomatoes along with salt, pepper and enough water. Now cover the saucepan and cook in simmering heat for about 45-50 minutes!!!
Why all the hostility toward Clay Cooper's answer...he's not wrong, they do harbor lots of parasites, bacteria, and viruses. In fact, since snapping turtles are so long lived and are an aquatic predator, there are also some nasty chemicals that accumlate in the fatty tissues. Meals of snapping turtle should not be eaten often...once a year maybe. +1 for Clay Cooper.
Cgull - Common snapping turtles are legal for harvest in many states. Most other turtles are protected, and those that aren't probably should be due to the rapid loss of habitat and construction of roads. Turtles don't do very well on roads.
Greenhead wrote: "Place a stick or something in front of it to get it to snap and extend its head. Now, with lightning fast reflexes, sever the head with a hatchet or the like."
The following method is safer than whacking away with a hatchet. Start with the turtle on its feet. Use a stout stick, and get the turtle to snap onto one end of it. Pull the neck out as far as possible and then use the stick as a lever to bend the neck and head back over the top shell. With a sharp knife, sever the neck and remove the head.
Your question takes me back to the 70's when I was a teenager, setting trotlines in the Angelina-Neches River area, below Sam Rayburn Lake. We caught several large alligator snappers and they were mean critters... take off your finger or a chunk of your leg if you got too close.
It appears Greenhead answered the skinning question and some of the vittles, however...
I will never forget that for our 4th of July family picnic on our nation's 1976 Bi-Centennial celebration, one of the meats that my father had barbequed by a local barbeque master(Mr. Johnny Limerick) was the snapper.
The man did a great job and from what i remember, there was white and dark meats. If you have a good pit master or bbq man ask him to smoke up a turtle leg ...always remember to pay him well and your party will be a success.
Good point. I assumed he was talking about common snapping turtles, but you would hate to get caught with the endangered alligator snapper, not to mention the fact that you are killing an endangered species.
I'll have to give your method a shot next time. Thanks for posting.
parasites are in everything that swims. . . They are legal and liscenced. . . . Thanks for those of you that helped. I learned alot, and got some good eating.
I stumbled across this post, looking for an old Field & Stream expose' written about my late uncle Frank Wick known as the worlds great turtle catcher. The Turtle man as he was called. I was hoping to find that this site may have had a back library of past magazines. As this article or articles would have been written in the late 60's or early 70's. If I am not mistaken he was in Field & Stream several times.
A lot of things made Frank unique, but mostly his ability to catch these Snapping Turtles by hand in conditions that would make most run the other way.
Frank made the best turtle soup on the planet. In fact many French restaurants would buy his soup. I remember visiting his house in a rural part of Ohio and he had two horse troughs on his porch filled with Snappers. The aroma of his delicious recipe of Turtle soup wafting out the noisy clanking screen door.
My uncle knew exactly how to catch, butcher, clean, and cook the snapper like no other. I wish I could find an old copy of the Magazine article. He was a remarkable man...
I stumbled across this post, looking for an old Field & Stream expose' written about my late uncle Frank Wick known as the worlds great turtle catcher. "The Turtle Man" as he was coined. I was hoping to find that this site may have had a back library of past magazines. As this article or articles would have been written in the late 60's or early 70's.
If I am not mistaken he was in Field & Stream several times. A lot of things made Frank unique, but mostly his ability to catch these Snapping Turtles by hand in conditions that would make most run the other way.
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