Step 4: Remove the meat

Start by laying the turtle on its back.

Note: While cutting-try not to open the organ sack. Try not to stab anything that looks like a little water balloon. Chances are, no matter what it is, when your knife pokes it, one of the foulest mixtures of liquid hell will pour out. Just avoid stabbing at the turtle in general.

Cut around, and remove the bottom plate. A serrated knife/saw comes in handy at times here.

Then, cut the back legs and tail off the top shell in 1 piece. Cut the front legs and the neck off.

Throw away the carcass (the shell and guts). You can look in the stomach to see if you can find your bait and hook. Here, I found the hook, with the whole liver still on it, in both stomachs, unharmed in each of them! (Both meaning both turtles, not two stomachs in one turtle).

You can either skin it, or cook it with the skin on (in a soup, maybe?).

Once you've skinned it (sorry, no more pictures), if it's an old granddaddy snapper (12 + pounds or so), parboil the meat first, to tenderize it. After that (or if it was a younger turtle), you can roast/fry it just like chicken. Or make the ever-popular turtle soup.

I know this an old post, however, thank you for it. I have turtles in my pond, they have killed at least one of my ducks maybe 3. My ducks will not go back on the pond. When they go to the pond, they only get on the shallow end and are all in a wad. This will come in handy if I catch any, I have a turtle trap ordered. I think I will use a large plastic garbage can and clean them out for the seven days. However, I think I will look at someone to help me kill and clean!! Thanks again.

WVKatCurse6 years ago
Thank you for the instruction. I now know how to clean hunt one. I still need to find how to bring a large one to the surface and keep him there. He is eating my mallards and geese.
Buiild a 4' square with large sticks/small logs (about 4" in diameter). Attach old wire fence/chicken wire to one side of square all the way across and staple (fence staples) tightly. Turn it over and drive a 4" nail pointing toward the center (sticking up at about a 45 degree angle) about every 3 to 4 inches, then clip off the heads at an angle so that you have sharp spikes about 2" long all the way around. Make sure it floats, then wire fish heads, chicken necks, etc. to middle of square. Rig up an anchor with about 10' of line and float it in your pond. (If you don't have a boat, attach a second line so you can drag it to shore) The turtles crawl in to get the bait, but can't get back past the spikes, I used this sort of rig and a .22 to get rid of about 20 snappers (largest was over 20 lbs.) from a farm pond 30 years ago. Good luck!
klaw34 years ago
Thanks for sharing. I always get the turtle already cut up in the wet market and wonder how they do it.
afairbanks4 years ago
Can you eat Red-eared sliders? I caught a huge one at work today and was wanting to eat it, but after reading some of your posts I want to make sure that is a species that is edible.
rasterdan6 years ago
Are there any types of turtles that are not edible? I live in FL and plan to give this a try. We have tons of red-ear sliders and other water turtles in the streams. Also I am traveling to TN in June and there is a pond with turtles of unknown type that I would be very interested in catching. I had turtle soup in Philly that was out of this world and want to try making it myself. I am not interested in salt-water turtles because I believe they are protected and they need all the help they can get. Thanks for this instructable, I am forwarding to my friend and brother. Fantastic!
Rasterdan, stick with the Snappers!! There are several species that ARE NOT edible. I know, because my Cajun self has tried several! I'm from Louisiana. You will note a taste that will make you never want to eat another turtle, ever again if you try the wrong type!! You can't go wrong with the Snappers and that's what species of turtles food establishments will serve. I hope this reply was helpful to you. Etienne.
hi guys my first time. someone told me that the shell is like scallopes can u eat it softshell is what i have & can u bleed &  clean next day??? help help!!!!!!
sleeping_gecko (author)  brenda sloan5 years ago
I don't know about eating the shell, I think they're inedible.

Do you mean bleeding the turtle out, then cleaning it the next day?  If you're looking at doing that because of time, it would probably be better to leave them in the bathtub full of water or in a trash can with water in it.  I would try to avoid leaving the dead turtle with its organs in there for too long, as it could taint the meat (both in flavor and possibly with pathogens).

Good luck, though!  They can be "good eatin'!"
dplummer6 years ago
I have been catching a lot of Snappers lately. My friends and I want to eat one and had a question regarding them. When cutting between the shells of a snapper (both are hard) Am i cutting around the bottom shell with my knife and removing it first, or am i sliding the knife along the underside of the top shell and completely separating it . looking at your pictures it seems that you are doing the latter but I am not sure it would be the same with a snapper. If you have any tricks of the trade for snapping turtles it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks and great instructable!
sleeping_gecko (author)  dplummer6 years ago
There's supposed to be a softer membrane around the shells that joins the top and bottom halves of the shell. Find that and cut around. Cut around the tail and neck, then the shells can be separated, then you kind of scrape the meat out. This was how it was explained by my father-in-law (who has experience with turtles and butchering in general). These 2 turtles covered in this instructable are the only ones I have personally cleaned.
neiko-tan7 years ago
I ate a kind of soup in China called "Snake and Turtle Soup"... XD It tasted like chicken. I'm not kidding!
maker127 years ago
Try not to stab anything that looks like a little water balloon. Chances are, no matter what it is, when your knife pokes it, one of the foulest mixtures of liquid hell will pour out. thats it's bladder.Xd
bsumner8 years ago
Any idea what those orange ball-looking things are?
sleeping_gecko (author)  bsumner8 years ago
I think they're a type of egg, but I'm not totally sure. That's only based on observations of freshwater fish eggs, so it's mainly speculation. I haven't found an anatomy chart for this particular type of turtle.
Eggs would be contained in a bladder or "uterus", not floating around in the body cavity. Those look to me like fat storage pockets.