It is good practice to field dress the birds as soon as feasible after they are shot. Normally, birds may be kept a few hours before removing the entrails, but if a bird is quite shot up, the flavor of the meat is affected. Also, it is desirable to separate the birds to allow them to lose their body temperature as quickly as possible. Field dressing birds hastens the cooling process. Many hunters skin the birds rather than pluck them. However, others feel that flavor is lost when the birds are skinned.
The easiest way to prepare a pheasant is to skin it. After hanging separate the feathers along the back of the bird and cut the skin along its length, lift and pull it off feather and all. The disadvantage of this method is that you are left with a skinless bird -i.e. not suitable for roasting without coating with fat/ bacon to prevent drying out - but it does avoid the messiness of plucking - the feathers get every where!
1. Dip your hands in water
2. Start plucking from the breast working towards the neck pulling the feathers in the direction they grow so that the skin does not break.
3. Turn the bird around and pluck away from you
4. Cut through the middle wing joint to remove it : Stretch out the wings and pluck the feathers
5. Pull out leg and tail feathers
6. The small pin feather along the back bone are best removed by tweezers.
NOTE: If the feathers are too hard to remove you can immerse the bird in boiled water off the heat for 30 seconds - though the bird must then be cooked immediately
Removing the Neck & Head
If you have plucked the bird place the bird on its back and cut along the neck skin, the point where it joins the body. Leaving plenty of skin to cover the neck, cut through the neck of the bird removing it and the head.
Strip out the gullet, crop and windpipe, insert a finger and loosen rotate it gently to break all attachments and free organs, particularly the lungs.
Removing the Innards
With a sharp knife cut through the skin around the vent (anus) of the bird until it comes loose. Insert your fingers into the body cavity and draw out the innards. With practice, you can pull them out in one, at first attempt you may need to scrape around a bit.
Wash and dry the body cavity and salt it.
• The object is to help tenderize and flavor, removing the innards will give a milder flavor when hanging and is safer.
• A young bird will need less hanging than an old one.
• Storage in a cold place is safer.
• Slow cooking will tenderize the meat and reduce the need for hanging, but may dry out the breast a bit