How to Clean a Grouse

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Getting to the wilderness and hunting in the wild is an exhilarating experience. But, if you are lucky enough and hunt a grouse, you must know the steps to clean it. Here is an article that gets into the gut of the story and explains how to clean grouse.

How to Clean a Grouse

First, let me be very clear, we do love and respect animals. We appreciate the creature of nature, and we are in awe of this amazing beauty. Hunting is a passion for many and knowing the do’s and don’ts after a hunt makes the experience worth remembering.

Brown and white Grouse

Material Required

  • Knife
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Gloves

Step 1: Remove the Feathers

The very first step you must take after hunting a bird is to clean the feathers.

  1. Lay the bird on its back. This ensures the skin gets peeled off at once.
  2. Spread the wings wide, Place your feet on either side of the wing, put the pressure firmly where the wings join the body.
  3. Grasp the foot firmly and stay in a stable position.
  4. Hold the body of the bird with your hand and have a strong grip over the body.
  5. Apply even pressure and pull the legs of the grouse up.
  6. Pull the body with force; the outer feathers come off with ease. The fresher the clean, the easier it is.

This method has to be done precisely; otherwise, your work will increase, as you have cut the body with the help of a knife.

Step 2: Clean the Feathers With a Hand

It is an alternate method that you can try. For example, if you are scared or can’t pull off the feathers with a push, you can clean them with your hand.

  1. Remove the feathers from the body; it does not take much time for the feathers to come off easily.
  2. Then, take a butchering knife, or you can use scissors and cut the wings from the body of the grouse.
  3. The grouses are easy to clean; the feather just comes off with the skin with ease. Then, you can use pair of scissors to cut the feather.

Clean the remaining feathers from the body; in this procedure, the skin of the grouse remains intact with the body.

Step 3: Clean the Head, Entrails, and the Wings

After you have pulled the feathers and body of the grouse, the head, entrails, and wings remain.

  1. Use fingers to pop out the head from the breast.
  2. Once the head is removed, clean the wings by chopping with a butchering knife and the entrail too.
  3. After that, clean the wings with a knife and scissors.

You can check this video guide to understand the method of cleaning a wild grouse. 

Step 4: Clear the Gut of the Bird

After you pull out the skin and head, you get a lumpy neck or gut in the bird.

  1. The procedure is quite gross; after that, check for the gut of the bird. You can see the food it has eaten in the gut.
  2. You can get to see green plants, insects, or anything the bird has last eaten.
  3. Pick it and throw it off, and it is easy to clean grouse; you hardly need any tools.

Step 5: Cut Out the Thighs

Grouse’s leg or thighs do not have much meat, although they taste well when smoked in the campfire.

  1. The skin you have pulled in the first step, the thighs get off with the skin.
  2. Check the skin, and you will get the thighs, cut it out and remove the feathers from the thighs. Then, give the thigh a good pull and, it comes off from the skin.
  3. Cut right at the hip joint, and cut it along a little bit higher to that.

Step 6: Cut the Breasts Out

If you want to cook the breast of the Grouse, then here is the process you should follow.

  1. Take a knife and make a mark along the joint bone of the grouse.
  2. Work your way to the wishbone and carve the meat from it. The piece looks like a small chicken breast.
  3. Move ahead and follow the same procedure in the next step.

Step 7: Wash the Grouse

After cleaning the organs and guts, wash the grouse. Wash it with sufficient water, remove the feathers and dirt from the grouse. It even cleans the blood from the bone of the bird.

  1. If you are camping, then go to any nearby water source and clean it upside down.
  2. Water gets to all the parts evenly and cleans the meat’s feathers, clothes, and debris.
  3. Wash the thighs of the grouse separately, and then you are good to go for a delicious meal.
Close up shot of a Grouse

Field Dressing of Grouse

To reduce the risk of germs from the bird, always wear hand gloves while handling the bird.

  1. Remove all visible feces, dirt, bloodshot, and feathers from the bird.
  2. Use clean water, alcohol, and premoistened wipes to clean the knife. It helps clean any germs that build upon the knife and prevents the entering of bacteria into the bird.
  3. Make lateral incision under the breast to clean the feathers and skin off the carcass.

Next, separate the carcass by pulling the breasts apart; you will see the heart, liver, and lungs attached to the backside of the breast.

  1. Remove the organs carefully; make sure you don’t cut the intestine, as it can have bacteria associated with food-borne diseases.
  2. If the grouse exhibits a foul smell, greenish discharge, has black blood or blood clots then, discard the grouse. Do not consume it. It can be a health hazard and, you can end up in hospital.
  3. If you are in the field, don’t throw the organs anywhere on the ground; it can cause a smell and germs carrier. Instead, it is best to shovel the ground and dig a small pit. Throw the meat in the pit and then cover it with soil.

Here is an article you can refer to which explains with images on field dressing of grouse.

Grouse in a corn field

Tips for Cleaning a Grouse

  • Never pile up warm birds together.
  • After cleaning the cavity, dry it with paper towels to avoid spoilage.
  • As soon as you clean the bird, store it in a cool place. You can store it with ice packs or cover it with snow.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight, although if you keep it open, provide adequate air ventilation in that space.
  • Young birds have soft breastbones and light legs, while old birds have heavy legs and darker breastbones.

Cooking Tips for Grouse

  • Freeze the freshly cleaned meat; never keep it in an open space until you are willing to cook it.
  • Cut the meat into small chunks of meat size portions.
  • Grouse have delicate meat, season it lights, and never overcook them.
  • Marinate the meat with lemon, buttermilk, or vinegar.
  • Put garlic, cloves and salad oil, and paprika in the grouse. Cook it properly from both sides.
  • The germs and bacteria die in the heat, so you won’t have to worry about the germs in the meat.
  • Serve it with rice or pasta and enjoy hiking into the wild.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe to Consume Wild Grouse?

Yes, it is safe to consume wild grouse. But, first, make sure you have disinfected the grouse and checked it has healthy meat. The grouse meat is lean and does not contain much fat content. It is like chicken but more tender than chicken.

Should I Soak the Grouse in Salt Water?

Soaking the grouse in salt is a technique used by many. Soak the spruce grouse in the freezer, and the salt brings out any residual blood or feathers stuck in the bird.

After that, throw the liquid and clean it fresh and then freeze it again. This helps in disinfecting the ruffed grouse.

How to Tell Grouse Is Cooked?

The grouse hardly takes 10-15 minutes to cook. You can tell by the color change of the grouse. If you still find it difficult, check it with a fork or press it with fingers; you can release the tenderness of the meat. This ensures the meat is cooked properly.

Brown and white grouse on brown grass


Grouse are wild game birds that are often seen in a particular season. Hunting them is a great experience. Proper cleaning of grouse after hunting is a necessary step, grouse are wild birds, and they can have germs that can harm the human body. Therefore, precisely clean it with the steps and tips mentioned above.

When you buy Grouse from the market, follow the disinfecting methods and then store it in the freezer. Disinfecting makes sure the meat is cured before cooking.