How to Clean a Pheasant

Where I pheasant hunt, there’s a business in the nearby town where hunters can drop off their birds for cleaning. I’ve always wondered why people would pay for a service that I find really easy to do for myself. Following is a video and instructions on how to clean a pheasant.

I call this the Nelson Pheasant Cleaning method because I learned this technique from Curt Nelson on a snowy roadside somewhere in the middle of Nebraska over 20 years ago. The beauty of the “Nelson Method” is you preserve the majority of the meat and you keep your hands (mostly) clean as you never have to touch the entrails. A real plus on a cold and snowy day.

Video: How to Clean a Pheasant


The only tools you’ll need for this simple pheasant cleaning method are a pair of game shears that are designed to cut the bones on poultry. I’ve been using game shears by Gerber for years. Here’s a link where you can purchase a pair.

The Process:

  1. Using game shears remove both wings
  2. Snip off the tail where it meets the base of the body
  3. Decide what proof of sex you’re going to leave. I prefer to leave a leg (Be sure to check the requirements of your local game laws.)
  4. Pull up the skin on the belly and make a snip large enough to insert a finger between the skin and the flesh
  5. Starting at the bottom pull all the skin off the bird up towards the head
  6. Snip around the anus. Be careful to not snip too deeply.
  7. Make two snips from the neck along either side of the spine and then snip across the back
  8. Use your game shears to pull out the entrails from the back you just cut. Everything including the anus should come out.
  9. Place the bird in a ziplock bag and get it on ice

Related: The Ultimate Pheasant Hunting Gear List

Special thanks to Doug McDougal from the Outdoor Dream Foundation for helping out with this production of the video. 

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