This is my method for dry plucking an upland bird, which are the hardest to pluck of all birds. These instructions assume you have a bird that is through rigor mortis, about 2 to 4 days old, kept in a cold place.
Sit down and be comfortable, and have the trash bin in front of you. Or if you are outside, make sure the wind is at your back. Feathers, you know...
I start by pulling out the big flight feathers from the wings. Sometimes you need to yank them one by one. Never grab more than a few though, or you will rip the skin.
After that, I use my thumb and forefinger to pluck wing feathers. I only pluck the drumettes and the flats, not the last digit. In one motion, I slide my thumb under some feathers, press down to grip with my forefinger, and flick my wrist away from myself to pluck them out. This is the basic motion you will use for all feathers.
When it comes to the tiny leading edge feathers on the wings, I extend the wing with one hand, and with the other, I pinch a few between my thumb and forefinger and pluck them off, toward the body. This is persnickety.
Clip off the final digit of the wings. Dogs like them. Start pulling out tail feathers one or two at a time.
Now, you can use that thumb and forefinger motion to defeather the bird's back quickly. This is the easiest part. Work straight up the center of the back, to the base of the neck. You will now see a lot of gossamer, light feathers under the bird's "armpits" and along its sides. These are easy to remove, and can almost be rubbed off. Stop when you get to the line of big, showy feathers along the breast, and when you get to similar feathers on the bird's flanks.
You'll see the neck has showy feathers and the little gossamer ones in between. I pluck a couple of the showy ones at a time until I have a line plucked. Then I remove the easy little ones next to it, then repeat the process all around the neck. The skin around the crop gets rippy, so be careful.
Remove the flank feathers one or two at a time. They can be rippy. I pull them out the way they went in, so down, away from the bird. This is a spot that rips a lot, and if you can minimize it, you'll be rewarded with a pretty, skin-on thigh.
The drumsticks are easy. Hold the bird from the feet and pluck towards the bird's center. The feathers right where the feet meet meat are the hardest. But this section goes quickly.
Now I remove all the little feathers that are in the center of the breast because they are easy. That leaves only the big, showy feathers that run on each side of the breast. These are the hardest ones. Anchor the skin with one hand, and with the other, pluck -- again with thumbs and forefinger -- one feather at a time. Once you get the hang of it, it goes fast, but you really never want to grab more than a couple feathers at once here.
Once he's plucked, I will run a cigarette lighter over the bird to singe off any stray feathers and those weird hairs.
I snip off the Pope's nose, the tail, and then snip upwards to the breastbone to make a hole large enough for my hand, or at least a finger in the case of quail, to get inside.
Pull the gizzard out first. It's the hard, large thingy. Often the liver comes with it. Save it or discard, up to you. Ditto with the gizzard. Discard the intestines, and pull out the heart. Eat it or put it in the stockpot. Rinse the bird well and let it drip dry.
Set the bird in the fridge uncovered overnight before doing anything else with it.
How to Pluck a Pheasant or Other Game Bird https://honest-food.net/how-to-clean-pheasant/ May 31, 2019