Introduction: A Turtle Hunting We Will Go!

Picture of A Turtle Hunting We Will Go!

The fine art of hunting the Common Snapping Turtle as passed on from my Dad and my personal hunting experiences.

Step 1: Introduction

Picture of Introduction

My dad taught me the fine art of Turtle Hunting; I'm referring to the common "Snapping Turtle". This prehistoric steadfast has an extremely bad temper and if given the opportunity can sever a finger or inflict a horribly bad wound with his vicious bite.If given the opportunity is very relative because your mere presence in his territory is his opportunity.
You can find "Ole Moss Back" in just about any State in the United States, and residing in any place that has year-round water such as a pond, Tank, River, or Creek. Most of my hunting experiences have taken place in various Creeks.

The "Snapper" or common Snapping Turtle can reach weights up to forty (40) pounds, his head and neck can measure approximately two and a half (2½) inches around. He's all muscle and has a hard shell with round scallops on the shell edge directly behind his head, and has distinctive sharp serrated points on the shell edge at the base of his shell and where the tail begins. He has dinosaur scallops that protrude upward on the top of the tail and travel the length to its ending tip. His breastplate is a yellow colored smooth plate with indentations that run horizontally and allows for flexibility. He is omnivorous but prefers meat and mainly feeds on such delicacies as Crayfish, Minnows, Adult Fish, various water insects and, has also been known to take a Duck or two. Yes, you read correctly, this "little Pretty" will swim quietly underneath the unsuspecting fowl and grab it by the feet pulling it under, for its dinner.

Step 2: Proper Attire, Hunting Implements, and Location

Picture of Proper Attire, Hunting Implements, and Location

Okay, if we are going hunting for turtle, then we must dress the part. you'll need a cap, long sleeve shirt with a button down collar, a pair of Levis, Lee Riders, dungarees, or other old denims, a pair of old smelly socks, not necessarily matched, and a pair of "Tennies", not necessarily matched.

Next comes the hunting implements, which calls for an old broom handle, mop handle, hoe handle, or any like item, just as long as it's straight, long, and comfortable to the feel.Finally, we need a "Tow Sack" or "Gunny Sack", (burlap bag) with a long and heavy gage tie rope or string.

We then have to select a likely hunting spot, so we'll look for a creek that we know has water in it year-round, full of lots and lots of snags, smelly standing water, brim full of mosquito larvae, and adult mosquitoes that delight in sucking out your blood while you are sweating profusely under a hot beating sun in ninety (90) to one hundred plus (100+) degree temperature. Be sure there is plenty of Cut Grass, Nestles, Thorny Limbs, and the like to cut your body into little pieces each time you get out of the creek bed to relocate.Sprinkle that with lots of Cow, Sheep, and Horse dung to walk through, and as if that isn't enough be sure the odor of the slimy algae accumulations is sufficient to turn the nose of a skunk. If all of these conditions are met, then "by golly" we're in the right place to match wits with "Ole Moss Back".

Step 3: The Hunt, in Practice.

Picture of The Hunt, in Practice.

On with the hunt: Once we've climbed over all the barbed wire fences and lowered ourselves into the creek, go to any creek bank and begin to prod and poke your broom handle, or like device in and around the bank, around various snags, all through the creek bed while listening intently for a "hollow" sound. Upon hearing the telltale sound, immediately and without hesitation place your foot directly on top of the item that produced the sound. Run your stick around the item feeling for a "hit," "bump," or "movement" from below.If you feel a hit, or bump on the stick or if something begins to move under your foot, then you can be pretty certain that you have found your quarry.

If you are standing in chest deep water, take a deep breath and stick your head under water, place your hand on the leg that is pressing down on the turtle, and run it down to your foot, being very careful to keep your hand on your leg. Feel for the Turtle's shell and inch ever so slowly toward the shell edge. If you know where the bump or hit came from, go to the opposite direction. This should be its tail end. Feel for the jagged or pointed serrations to confirm that it is his tail end. Once confirmed, then reach in the directions that the serrations point until you find the base of its tail. Usually the turtle will bend its tail inward under its body. You will have to pull its tail away from the shell in order be able to get a firm hold. After you have a firm grip on the base of the tail, remove your foot and pull up and away from your body being sure to position the Turtle's breastplate facing toward your body. This will position his head and open gaping, hissing, pink mouth away from you, and make it more difficult or him to bite.

Step 4: The Catch, and Final Disposition.

Picture of The Catch, and Final Disposition.

Placing your catch into the "Gunny Sack" can be a little tricky.Do this on the creek bank, so if you lose your grip, you won't lose your turtle back into the creek. Place the sack on the ground, and open the end with your stick. Point the turtle toward the sack opening and shove his head and body into the sack. Pull the sack up and away from your body thus depositing "Mr Turtle" at the bottom of your sack. Tie the sack opening off, being sure everything is secure. Tie the remaining rope or line to your belt, pick the sack up, jump back into the creek, throw the sack behind you, and continue the hunt. The object here is to allow the turtle and sack to be pulled along with you in the creek thus eliminating having to carry twenty five (25) to forty (40) pounds of turtle around.

If you are lucky throughout the remainder of your hunt, you may collect several more turtles, but don't take more than you plan to eat. Yes, I said eat! Turtle is quite a delicacy and has been Said to contain seven (7) different flavors of meat. I can attest that you will taste several different flavors, but I would be hard pressed to specifically identify those flavors.

Once you have collected your turtles, the next step is the cleaning process. Ah yes, fun time is about to begin. Let me tell you here and now, that this is a task for not one, but two men. No boys, or women, should attempt this process.(I'm sure there are some boys and women out there who could accomplish this task, but for the most part it shouldn't be attempted by either) While I don't want to offend anyone's sensibilities I'll just say here, that the "Snapper" is a very strong and durable beast. It takes a lot of strength to skin a turtle, so someone must hold the shell while the other party does the deed. Any further description here would be overkill. (No pun intended)

For cooking instructions, may I suggest Justin Wilson's "Cajun Cookbook", or you can scan the Libraries efficient "Dewey Decimal System" under "Exotic" food preparations.



PaulM339 (author)2016-04-13

I love it

ldchev (author)PaulM3392016-04-13

Hey thanks Paul for stopping by and reading my instructable on "A Turtle Hunting We Will Go. I do appreciate it and your comment. 

darlajanette (author)2011-05-13

My daughter hunts snappers, and we have them for supper. I shared a similar story on facebook, and wow! What a bunch of flak.

I did not take the "no women or children" comment personally. I viewed it as an indication that one must steel oneself for this task. If you've ever been close to a large-ish snapper, you'll know why.

Here's my question. Suppose one doesn't want to feel around in the mud trying to ascertain which end of a midieval weapon-like reptile with a 1000 psi bite is the business end. Anyone have luck live-trapping these things? If so, could you share your trap plans?

Lorddrake (author)darlajanette2015-06-22

(yeah i know this reply is about 4 years too late .. )

The way that I like to catch them is with a fishing pole. A good sized hook (I think i used a size 2 hook last time) and a nice chunk of hot dog is all it takes. Unlike playing a fish, you want to keep a constant pressure on the line so they don't have a chance to spit the hook out while you reel them in. slow and steady wins the race :)

realize that the snapping turtle does not have alot of meat in its mouth so you will quite often have them kick the hook out with their front foot before you get a chance to land it. When you are fortunate enough to get one close scoop it with a landing net and get the soup pot ready.

ldchev (author)darlajanette2011-05-13

darlajanette, I appreciate your taking the time to read my Turtle Hunting Instructable and your supportive comment.

Yes, there are those that do trap Snapping Turtle. Personally, I have no direct knowledge of the method or devices used, but I would guess that you could put the inquiry on the internet and retrieve some interesting information.

I would like to share with you- and you can pass this on to your daughter- an interesting thing that happened to me this January. I was contacted by one Thomas Jaeger about this instructable. Mr Jaeger was, and may still be, producing a show on Food Network about people that put themselves at risk looking for food. He works with Intuitive Entertainment of L.A.

I explained to him that I no longer am active in the pursuit of Hunting Turtle, and he asked if I knew of anyone that was. I didn't, but told him there were surely many that still are active in this endeavor. I missed my chance at fame, hahahaha, but was honored that he took the time to make contact with me. Mr Jaeger is on facebook and maybe your daughter could make contact if she is interested in sharing her experiences in Turtle Hunting with him.

Again thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my instructable.

darlajanette (author)ldchev2011-05-13


I'll look him up! I'm sure my daughter will find what he has to say interesting, as will I. At 11 years old, that child is driven to provide for our family. For Mother's Day this year, she wrote me some poems, drew me some pictures, and gave me a coupon for "One free bowl of snapping turtle soup."

I found a live trap at She and I built it this afternoon, and we'll put it in the lake tomorrow. I don't care what anyone says -- snapping turtles are not welcome in the lake where my children swim. I'm not about to relocate them, and I better not catch anyone relocating theirs to my place. Eating them is a good use of a natural resource.

Thanks for taking the time to post your story, and for the information on Mr. Jaeger.


kracken42 (author)2014-02-01

This is an abomination. I cannot believe that this is under herpetology. I thought this was how to catch turtles to observe, not how to butcher them. I am deeply offended.

carnellh (author)kracken422015-06-19

For instance did you know that the American alligators white blood cells can deter any know and unknown disease and viruse in seconds. How do we know that well by opening up the thing or injecting various things into it right ?

carnellh (author)kracken422015-06-19

Part of studying reptiles is to butcher them actually how else can you see what all lies inside lol ?

carnellh (author)2015-06-18

Also the "Carapace" is good for knee pads,helmet,shield,etc. and the plasma is good for a lot of things as well......

carnellh (author)2015-06-18

Also the "Carapace" is good for knee pads,helmet,shield,etc. and the plasma is good for a lot of things as well......

carnellh (author)2015-06-18

Well this is interesting. You have a lot of people on here saying how wrong it is to kill a turtle when the main source of food here "in the U.S. of A. Is.....You're not going to believe this folks is Beeeeeeef!!!! That's right animal friends, and guess where beef comes from.......Chickens!!!!!! Lol
I have worked with animal divisions for 8 yrs and believe me when I tell you that the common snapping turtle annual population is more abundant than cattle so think about that and say it is cruel and turtle is way more tastier and healthy than cows meat also just saying you should try some. Oh and also just to give you a heads up the meat at the store isn't real its cloned(shhhhh) ?

tdenney16 (author)2015-04-23

This is the funniest thing I've found in a while. I do want to try one.. haha. and we have some in the pond... hmmm..

ldchev (author)tdenney162015-04-23

So very happy to see you enjoyed this write. Take care, and thank you for stopping by and for the friendly comment.

tdenney16 (author)ldchev2015-04-23

Absolutely! Need to get rid of those pesky things anyway ;) They bite the udders off of cows... haha (lots of cows in my area) Anyway. Thanks for the laugh!

ЕвгенийА (author)2015-02-26

Как такое можно делать, вы что варвары, мало того что жирафа убили, так теперь и черепах. полное вам презрение. Вы плохой человек.

to'bryant (author)2014-11-07

Wow, tons of comments from all over the board. Thanks for sharing and putting up with all the flak and keeping a cool head. Always wanted to try turtle.

ldchev (author)to'bryant2014-11-07

Well thank you so very much for your supportive comments to'bryant. I really do appreciate it. Yes there are those that want to agitate and pontificate, so I try to hold myself back a little realizing where the venom is coming from. I have to assume not all of them are vegetarians or vegans, so I wonder where do they think their meats come from as well as how they got there in the first place. Again thank you for reading my Instructable and showing you supportive kindness.

mr butch (author)2013-05-23

after I send the turtle to the great pond in the sky I take a nail and pound it through it's tail and into a tree trunk about eye level where I clean it.

ldchev (author)mr butch2013-05-23

I have never tried it that way, but I could see how it could work. It isn't easy any way you decide which way is best for you. 

Thank you for taking time to stop by and read this piece, and for leaving your comment.

Have a great day!!

jamie2034034i39042i (author)2009-08-05

You are an awful person and should be condemned to the depths of hell for killing turtles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I totally agree with you Jaime

ldchev (author)waco5652013-04-15

"How is this under herpetology you heartless jerks !"

After reading the above question that you posed, I can fully understand
why you would be in agreement with Jaime. 

Again thank you for your comments and for reading my indtructable. 

"Jamie, thank you so very much for your well directed comment. I am most appreciative and ask only one thing for your consideration. Being as you are concerned with my fate, would it be too much to ask if you could furnish me with some good old fashion popcorn recipes that might come in handy during my stay in hell.

Thank you and May God Bless"

101yummYYummy101 (author)ldchev2010-01-29

Im part of the the PETP (people for the ethical treatment of plants) and I find this instructable extremely offensive. This is extremely... Crap, thats no plant... Sorry then carry on =/


ldchev (author)101yummYYummy1012010-02-01

Hahahaha, your are correct, this is not about Plants, however your comments are appreciated.....carry on then......

101yummYYummy101 (author)ldchev2010-02-01

Is there even a "real" petp or just the fake ones?

waco565 (author)2013-04-15

How is this under herpetology you heartless jerks !

ldchev (author)waco5652013-04-15

Well waco,

it might have something to do with the fact that HERPETOLOGY
is a branch of zoolology dealing with reptiles and amphibians. 

I hope this answers your question.
Thank you for your inquiry and reading this Instructable. 

JACKBARRY (author)2012-10-24

yeyyeyeyeyww live action

instructa-seal (author)2012-07-27

That must take some guts.
I would hate to reach down and grab the wrong end....

ldchev (author)instructa-seal2012-07-27

Instructa-seal, certainly absolute attention is necessary to minimize any errors while hunting Ole Moss-Back. I definitely wasn't interested in getting "hit" so being sure where your quarry's head is located is paramount. By using your probe to get a "bump" or "hit" will tell the hunter where to reach. While not always 100% accurate you have to be prepared to withdraw immediately if you find the Turtle has turned on you. So yes it is a little scary at times.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this instructable, and thank you for your input.

bajablue (author)2012-07-12

lol... this is even crazier than noodling.

I'd love to have a few of the shells. Do you sell them? Maybe you'd like to trade for a few frozen (whole) rattlesnakes?

ldchev (author)bajablue2012-07-12

Sorry bajablue I don't have any Turtle Shells. Currently I am living in Texas and we have the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup every year,so I have access to all kinds of Rattlesnake curios if I want any. Thanks for the offer tho.

I also have Noodled for Catfish. It is quite the experience, and the Catfish were gooooood eatin': Turtle was better.

I don't Noodle, or hunt Turtle anymore due to my age. I used to hunt them a lot in my younger days, but those are times gone by.

I appreciate your comment and thank you for taking the time to read this instructable.


bajablue (author)ldchev2012-07-12

Thanks for getting back to me.

That "noodling" is cRaZy! lol... You only live once, I suppose. ;-)

Tabbytha (author)2011-12-08

While I understand the need to hunt under survival situations, I am rather disturbed at the lack of instructions on how to kill the turtle... and I hope you are not skinning it alive! If I have to hunt to survive I will use your info, but I won't skin them alive!

ldchev (author)Tabbytha2011-12-08

No Tabbytha, you would not under any circumstance skin the turtle alive. The turtle would be dispatched as quickly as possible.  I purposely avoided going into any detail on how to dispatch your catch so as not to disturb anyones sensibilities. The idea is to be a humane as possible when performing this part of the cleaning process. I hope this answer will set you at ease, and I thank you for your comments.

Tabbytha (author)2011-12-08

If you're the only woman, you'll have to find another way... maybe use a rock to break the shell or something? Survival situations don't always have the ideal conditions for hunting and such

reddevved (author)2011-07-15

Then afterwards you have a nice helmet/bowl!

jboyle1 (author)2011-06-16

Despite warnings of attempting this feat without the aid of two big strong men (hahaha!) I will be enjoying fresh snapping turtle for dinner tonight! Awesome instructional, by the way! I found a 22 pounder in the parking lot of my Twin Cities apartment complex this morning. When my boyfriend saw my excitement, he groaned and respectfully declined my offer of a true hillbilly hick meal, requesting instead, a good ol' boy's feast of chili dogs. He did, however, invite one of his best buddies over for dinner, and was given the reply: "It sounds delicious, but tonight i will be jabbing my eyes out with a pointed stick" Oh well, more for me!

My father and uncles found that nailing the top of the shell to a tree eliminates the need for a 2nd or even 3rd assistant in preparing the beast for the pan. A pair of strong snips aid in the removal of the bottom shell, snipping joints, and detaching stubborn sinew from the shell.

I will be dredging the turtle in egg and bisquick, and frying it in butter and garlic until brown, then making a gravy from the drippings and some fresh mushrooms. Toss it all into the crock pot to simmer all day, until the meat is falling from the bones.

I would love comments of recipes from others for next time!

Swo Yo (author)jboyle12011-07-12

Great story, tips, and recipe!
How did it turn out??

jboyle1 (author)Swo Yo2011-07-12

It was rich and tender and oh so yummy! my daughter ( the queen of EEEWWWWW, no way!) actually loved it and now screams from the backseat every time she sees even the tiniest of turtles on the road, "Get it mom!"

ldchev (author)jboyle12011-07-12

I am so pleased that all went well with your eating adventure. It sure is nice to be able to share as you can see by the attached pic. Hahahaha

ldchev (author)jboyle12011-06-16

Good for you jboyle1, you show an adventurous nature in trying something new in your life and cooking experience. I sincerely hope it turns out to be one of your most enjoyable and unforgettable times. It sounds like you are spot on and I don't doubt that you will be left wanting to repeat your experience. Please let me know in a future comment on how things turn out.  Be sure to tell your friends; those that declined your offer just what they missed. Bon Appetit'

ge (author)2011-06-03

i have wanted to try snapping turtle for a while and had seen your post. it is a great post and thanks a lot for taking the time. i actually have a large snapping turtle alive right now alive in a tote on my porch. i set out a few lines at a pond last night and checked the lines today and ended up catching a real nice one. i will be keeping it alive for several days and then following your instructable in preparing it. i am excited to try it.

jboyle1 (author)ge2011-07-12

the bigger the turtle, the longer you want to cook it. Meat can be stringy and tough, but a slow, low temp an d plenty of moisture can make for a very tasty treat! think GRAVY!!!


ldchev (author)ge2011-06-05

Thank you for your nice comments Ge. Enjoy your catch and Bon Appetit'.


casino_trains (author)2011-05-19

I have to say if anything went wrong in the USA and food was cut off what the heck would you city people eat?

Great Post on Feasting Turtle!

Never forget what YOUR people had to eat to get YOU this far?!

ldchev (author)casino_trains2011-05-19

Casino_trains, thank you for taking the time to reading my Instructable, and for your kind comment.

You are correct, History is our Teacher/Mentor and points the way to our future. By applying Teachings and learning lessons from the  past we can have more enjoyable and  fulfilling Life experiences.

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