Introduction: How to Field Dress a Dove / Pheasant / Quail

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Step by step instructions on how to breast a Dove / Pheasant / Quail

The pictures for this Instructable are of a Dove, though the process is the same for each of the above stated foul.


Be advised that the following photographs are rather graphic due to the nature of this process. Though the Dove is no longer living, the removal of body parts and images of the innards could understandably discomfort some.

Step 1: Remove the Head

Removal of the head is optional. I personally do this shortly after gathering the Dove to ensure that it is completely dead and not just stunned. By grasping the head/neck with thumb and forefinger, it (the head) can be twisted and pulled off in a single motion.

The first time can often be unsettling. Be assured that if the Dove is stunned, it will feel no pain once the spine is severed.

Note: In a survival situation you will want to keep the head t either to cook and consume (I know... gross) or use as bait for fishing or trapping. This is not conventional, but survival cares little for such things.

Step 2: Remove the Wings

The wings and associated bones are connected to the breast and must be broken and twisted off.

Grasp the wing bone as close to the body as possible. Twist and "snap" the wing bone in half ripping the skin away as the wing is removed from the body.

Note: Some hunters will rip the wings off. This is an effective method, but can result in the loss of some breast meat as the wings ripping out instead of broken off will take the connective tissue and muscle with it. Though little would be wasted, I'm not one to give up meat in this manner.

Step 3: Removing the Breast

Here's where it gets interesting...

The dove at this point should be headless and wingless. Holding the dove in your left hand(reverse for you lefties) on its back, neck down and tail up, grasp the back firmly by placing the thumb of the left hand beneath the base of the tail. The thumb needs to be as close to the main body as possible at this point.

With the right hand you will need to take the thumb and use it to find the lip of the breast found low under the chest. The second picture demonstrates proper hand/thumb placement (I find the pictures more helpful in this than my directions at this point).

Both thumbs need to begin pushing and forcing their way up through the body cavity while pulling the breast away from the back. As you do this, the two pieces should begin to hinge near the neck as the two pieces get begin to separate.

Step 4: The Heart and Gizzard (giblets)

Aside from the breast meat, there are savory internal organs that can also supply additional nutrition. The heart is usually quite recognizable and is pictured above in the first two tiles. The gizzard is another important organ, a muscular grinder used to process their food. You will want to cut open and remove the liner and leftovers from the bird's last meal. Clean both of these up, you'll want to cook this along with your bird.

Step 5: Breast Separation and De-feathering

The breast can be pulled away from the rest of the bird and must now be de-feathered. The feathers/skin can be removed from the breast easily pulling it away in pieces using fingers.

Note: All parts and pieces of the dove that are not to be eaten can possibly be used in other ways. In survival situations, bait for traps or for fishing. In extreme measures where the need for nutrition is great, the consumption of all but the feathers(bones included) may be necessary.

Step 6: Clean and Cook

The meat should be cleaned thoroughly, close inspection should be made to check for parasites/infected meat. Though it is rare to come across, wormy or infected meat if encountered should not be consumed.

Season to taste. Due to the lean nature of he meat I wrap each dove breast with bacon if it can be had.

Always Cook wild game thoroughly. Enjoy!

Step 7: Watch This Video to See How It's Done

Not a step, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video ought to be worth at least a thousand

Click on the video above to see how it's done. Check out my YouTube Channel to see more Videos like this one: HorseBackBob