Step 1: After catching the snapper, keeping it a week in a large container and changing the water in the container every couple of days to allow the turtle time to “clean out,” the time came to clean the turtle. This 11-lb. turtle (14-inch-long shell) was ready to clean. The only tools required were a pair of vice-grips to pull the head out far enough to cut the head off and a thin-bladed knife. Pulling the head out was a chore. And the head was about the size of a man’s fist.
Step 2: The turtle was “bled-out” for 24 hours and cleaned in the sink using only the knife shown above.
Step 3: Skinning the turtle was remarkably simple, made tricky only by the continued movement of the turtle despite being beheaded for 24 hours and stored in the refrigerator during “bleed out.”
Step 4 (The Big Worry): Separating the bottom shell from the top was very simple. There is a seam between the two shells and a thin-bladed knife makes this easy work.
Step 5: Peeling off the bottom shell is simple and clean.
Step 6: Removing the neck with its lobster-like meat opens the turtle’s vituals to removal.
Step 7: Once the innards, tail meat, neck meat and quarters are removed from the shell, only the backstraps remain. To get at the straps, start by peeling back the membrane covering them.
Step 8: The backstraps are encased in a boney frame. Use a pair of tin snips to get to them.
Step 9: Once the bones are cracked, the backstraps will pull right out.
Step 10: A cleaned turtle’s tail, hind legs, backstraps, front legs and neck. This turtle produced just under 6 pounds for the pot.
Step 11: This is the fun part. It was GON Publisher Steve Burch’s first turtle to clean. Cleaning a turtle is a very simple, straightforward job, and the eating is excellent.
Click on the links below to see a video of these steps:
Turtle Cleaning Video Part 1: http://youtu.be/sIKi4gIK5aM
Turtle Cleaning Video Part 2: http://youtu.be/qw_vo1EiBYY