Plucking Pheasants 101

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Since I started posting recipes to my website,  I have been slowly updating many recipes with a pictorial essay of how to do the recipe from start to finish which is time consuming but yet is still a lot of fun to do so.  Many times, I get discombobulated placing the proverbial cart before the horse and try to do a little better the next time.

I already had a recipe for roasted pheasant on my Wild Game page using an adapted recipe for Cornish Game Hens and started looking around to find a couple live or processed pheasants to do the recipe.

I talked with Capt. Robert Webster, retired NCDPS and he recommended that I go to Thompson’s Game Birds in Mt. Gilead, NC and see if he had any on hand of which I did.  I called Capt. Quinton Thompson, also retired from the NCDPS who lives in Mt. Gilead and he knew the owner Brad Thompson very well.  I met Quinton on December 11th at LEFLER'S PLACE, a small BBQ and Grill restaurant on highway 73 and followed him to Thompson’s Game Birds.  The owner Brad Thompson was still deer hunting so we went back to the restaurant where Brad had then showed up and I ordered a sausage/egg sandwich on a bun with mayo and a cup of coffee.   Pix of Brad at his Game Bird Farm:

Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

After that quick snack, we rode to Thompson’s Game Birds and I purchased a couple live male pheasants and enjoyed talking with Brad Thompson and he gave me a quick tour of his operation.  I asked him if I could come back and take some pictures and he said it would be ok and I plan to do so in the future and add them to this short story.  He had more than 600 plus pheasants and at least that many Bob White Quail and he said that a Game Preserve was coming to pick up his entire inventory of pheasants within a few days and/or week and I got there just in time.  It was a little comical to see each pheasant have a pair of green colored blinders attached behind their upper beak which was held in place with a hog ring.  The purpose of those colored blinders was to prevent the pheasants from pecking one another and I have seen stories about them on TV before.  I believe that the turkey growers clip a small portion of the tip of the beak off the turkeys to prevent them from doing damage to one another also.

Pix of Brad Thompson and Capt. Quinton Thompson inside one of Brad's houses for quail.

Brad put the pheasants in my live coon trap and I got them back home and later on in the afternoon after a trip to Rockingham, NC to the Pizza Inn, got my gas burner fired up and put on a big pot of water to heat up and scald the feathers off the pheasants since I wanted to keep the skin on them for roasting which should render more moist meat.  Pix below of the pheasants with the green blinders attached to them.  They are beautiful birds and I did feel a little remorse and pity for them but they were grown for this purpose.

Below pixs of the gas burner/stand, etc.:

Only a couple tools needed for this job.  The hatchet reminds me of the story about George Washington as a young lad chopping down his Dad's cherry tree which most believe is only a myth........grin if you must!:

The little Eastwing belt hatchet made quick work of getting the pheasants ready for the scalding water and let them hang and bleed out as much as possible.  The poultry processing plants will shackle the legs of the birds to an overhead conveyer system and will shock the bird with an electrical current to prevent all the flopping around and they will then pass through a knife or saw blade that slits their throats and then remove the entire head once adequate bleeding has occurred.   Birds will then enter the scalding tank with time and temperature doing its magic to loosen the feathers. 

As a boy growing up, when it was chicken killing time, my Grandma would wring the necks off the chickens and they would run around as if they still had their heads on.  That is where the old saying came from, "Running around like a chicken with it's head cut off."  Most males would rather cut the chickens head off with a hatched or small axe being much quicker and more humane for sure.

One thing about removing feathers from chickens or any kind of fowl using scalding water, the water temperature has to be the right temperature; e.g.,  below the boiling point (145 degrees ideal),  otherwise you can set the feathers meaning that it is very difficult to remove them and the same goes for "setting the hair" on a hog too.  You can't leave them in the scalding water but just enough time to loosen the feathers., etc.  a trial and error procedure for myself.  Below one of the pheasants moved around in the water to loosen the feathers.  I had to put the pheasant down to capture the image:

Below is getting close to what you see in the grocery store and/or market with the exception of the feet cut off at the ball joint and the neck cut back flush with the breast/back area.

I used a gas flame to remove the fine "hair" from the pheasant: 

Next, time to remove the internal organs.  My bride scolded me about this pix but this is part of the processing that you do not experience when purchasing meat at the grocery store and/or super market::

I will not be making any giblet gravy, therefore I will not save the heart, lungs, kidneys, gizzard and neck.  That is one "beautimous" pheasant below ready to soak overnight in a salt and brown sugar brine.

Pheasant in brine solution ready to be placed in the refrigerator.

To see the finished product of this pheasant, visit my roasted pheasant page.  What the heck, I will give you a sneak preview below:

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 12-12-13 with updated pixs on 12-21-13.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


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