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Handling Game Birds

Field Dressing/Transporting

Field Dressing & Transporting Upland Game Birds and Waterfowl

Capt. Clark
November 3rd Sunday 1805

Cap L. and 3 men Set out after night in this Mallard Ducks
Canoe in Serch of the Swans, Brants Ducks &c. &c. which appeared in great numbers in the Lake, he Killed a Swan and Several Ducks which made our number of fowls this evening 3 Swan, 8 brant and 5 Ducks, on which we made a Sumptious Supper. We gave the Indian-who lent the Canoe a brant, and Some meat to the others.

Generally, waterfowl are harvested in cooler weather than upland birds and urgency in field dressing is not required. When hunting from a blind, the birds can be laid in the shade to cool. For jump shooting, putting the birds in a game vest or on belt type wire game carriers will suffice. However, early in the season when the weather can be hot, gutting and crop removal may be necessary.

Assume you will be successful and bring the following items:

Sharp knife
Nylon cord
Clean cloths or paper towels
Storage bags
A cooler with ice
Disposable rubber gloves
Clean water

Field dressing and transporting of upland game birds and waterfowl includes the following steps:

Warm Weather > 40 degrees F

Remove the entrails and crop, avoid cutting into the crop, gizzard or intestines
Wipe the cavity clean with a cloth or paper towel
Lay or hang the bird in a place that allows for good air circulation
The key concern during transport is to keep the birds cool.
Put them on ice in a cooler that will maintain a temperature at or below 40 degrees F.  
If you do not have a cooler or ice, place the game birds in a location that permits a good circulation of air.
This will help remove some of the residual body heat in the birds.  
Do not stack the birds together.

Cool Weather < 40 degrees F

Remove the entrails and crop, avoid cutting into the crop, gizzard or intestines (this step is optional for waterfowl because they are less prone to spoilage than upland birds ).
Put birds in game vest or on belt type wire carrier.
Put birds in a cardboard box in trunk or bed of pickup with provision for air circulation

The preceding steps apply to a day trip where the hunter returns home. For extended trips, the birds should be prepared for frozen storage and frozen.