View Full Version : Hunting turtles?

February 24, 2008, 05:08 PM
I have a friend who likes guns, and he and his buddy went out on their first hunting trip last week. They hadn't come across anything all morning, but they saw a turtle in the water. They shot at it.

Do most hunters shoot turtles?

and I can only imagine the amount of flak I'll get for this question, but is it ethical to shoot a turtle since you probably wont cook it and eat it?

February 24, 2008, 05:38 PM
If you shoot it, you should dress it, freeze it and then eat it.

On second thought....donate themeat to someone that will eat it.


February 24, 2008, 05:41 PM
first, find out if it is legal where you live, in season ect. In NY even if you are shooting something like a groundhog for instance that has no size/bag/season limits ect. you still must have a hunting licence, back tag, and be following the basic rules. For example not shooting from a road, 500ft or more from a dwelling ect.

I have no problem if you have an over population of turtles and need to cull a few to make the rest of the habitat better. meaning having less competition for food, allowing there to be more/bigger fish in the pond ect. however for some reason i feel like your friends are not doing this.

the problem i have is 1) you are most likely shooting at or around water which is known to be one of the most easy surfaces to get a ricochett (sp?) and 2) you arent eating it and you are just shooting it for fun, no real purpose. people like this not only make our hobby/sport whatever you want to call it, look bad, but its morally wrong. in my opinion of course.

February 24, 2008, 05:42 PM
If they were on my land and killed any animal just for the fun of killing it they would never be back.

February 24, 2008, 05:43 PM
Do most hunters shoot turtles?

Well, as i said before, im not a hunting expert by any means. but i would venture to say MOST hunters dont shoot turtles. would be like shooting a seagull cause you cant find any ducks. whats the point unless youre just out there to kill.
now, having said that, if i ever see me one of them ninja turtles.......

C Philip
February 24, 2008, 05:44 PM
Careful with preparing turtles to eat, some species like the box turtle can have poisonous meat if their diet recently included some poisonous mushrooms or fungi.

February 24, 2008, 05:50 PM
Ricochet is a very obvious concern. But what specie of turtles? Only a couple are considered "edible". The soft shell and alligator snapper are but I don't think in Florida they are to be shot... In Florida we have a criminal charge for this... it is called "wanton waste of wildlife" or some such terminology... If you can't bag it why kill it?
Shooting already dead beer cans is as much fun... At least you know you hit one of them...:cool:

February 24, 2008, 05:52 PM
No they do not. I don't think or I at least hope most hunters don't hunt just to be killing something. I have a small pond that gets over run with turtles and I sometimes go down and thin them out but I take no enjoyment from it. It's just a necessary thing to have to do to help the fish population.

February 24, 2008, 05:55 PM
Turtles can be delicious or awful. Some taste like month-old rotten fish-guts. Others make the best soup you will ever taste (a breakfast/brunch/lunch favorite at Brennan's, one of the best restaurants on earth). I don't know how to avoid the fishy ones, so I don't hunt them, but I know plenty of people who do.

There are a lot of endangered species of turtles in the US, though, so if you can't positively identify your target, you could be in for a big fine and/or a keister-kicking from people who like turtles.

Shooting anything you are not going to eat is not ethical in my book unless it is an invasive/varmint critter that is overpopulating an area, and even then it can be a gray area at times...

Sounds like your buddies need to learn a few things about turtles before they do this again. If they figure out what's ok to shoot and eat what they kill, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

February 24, 2008, 06:15 PM
I don't endorse it, but from time to time we have had to "manage the turtle population" in our stockponds. Like all things, you can have too much of a good thing. key word here is manage, and inialate. Second, I don't see just shooting something for the hell of it as ethical. When we've done it, it's because we had too many, and it has been done maybe 3 times in the past 15 years. But just shooting something because it's there does not sit well with me i.m.o...

February 24, 2008, 06:50 PM
had to "manage the turtle population" in our stockponds.

Yup. Have to manage to fish population too if ya ever hope to have some big ums.

February 25, 2008, 05:48 AM
Are we talking 'painted turtles' ? The type that are common sunning themselves on logs & rocks in the summer. If so it is most likely illegal just about everywhere. They also aren't hurting anything. A snapping turtle may be a little different. The richochet is also something to think about. If they want some type of varmint they should learn to call crows or maybe try to take out cowbirds or starlings. I may of done a few things in my youth but I would not want guys shooting turtles on my property.

Double Naught Spy
February 25, 2008, 07:51 AM
If your hunter friends wish to be proper hunting stewards of the land, then killing game for the sake of having a live target to shoot is unethical.

In archaeology, the study of animal remains from archaoelogy sites is called zooarchaeology. Zooarchaeologists identify animals utilized and look at things like butchery patterns, seasonality, habitat use, etc. What turtles are animals and are considered to be hunted (although they can be trapped, netted, and poisoned as well), they are considered "slow game" along with animals such as mussels. It is thought that a goodly percentage of turtle are simply picked up off the ground when they are out of the water. Where this is going is that "slow game" really isn't seen as a hunting challenge.

February 25, 2008, 08:04 AM
If your hunter friends wish to be proper hunting stewards of the land, then killing game for the sake of having a live target to shoot is unethical.

I agree. Killing things is not "fun". Eating 'em is, but I don't eat everything I shoot.

From a land management perspective artificially keeping the balance tilted toward preferred animals is fine in my book. I don't eat skunks, but I shoot them anytime I see them if it won't disturb a hunt. It quail population has been in a decline for quite some time in near West Texas. The skunks aren't making as big of a difference as the weather, but they do love the eggs. 20 turtles on a 2 acre pond is affecting the balance of the pond. Feral cats, dogs and hogs have perhaps the largest impact followed by 'yotes. Pit vipers are killed on the spot due to dog encounters. Killing without a reason is immature at best and sociopathical at worst, but sometimes managing the land for resources demands that we don't let the environment go to the "dogs".

February 25, 2008, 11:11 AM
i wouldn't shoot a turtle. i've been thinking about trying snapper soup which is available at a diner right nearby me. and shooting them it isn't legal here. you can catch them by hand or with a rod and line. i don't bother with turtles too much but sometimes they pose a problem at a local trout stocked lake. i had a big old snapper take one of my trout right off my stringer. it wasn't on there but 10 minutes. and had a few take my bait and swim away and around a snag.:(

February 25, 2008, 11:40 AM
Most hunters do not shoot turtles. This is not a hunt, it's just killing for "their" fun and has nothing to do with hunting. :barf:

There are times when you have to thin them out and this is a conservation effort. We trap them, Keep the snappers, release the rest and have one great cook out. Now that's fun. :)

Art Eatman
February 25, 2008, 11:47 AM
Pretty much depends on the situation. In a stock pond, a buildup of turtles will cut down on the fishing. I'd regularly sit in my truck about fifty yards up the hillside from my pond and shoot turtles with my .223. No ricochets.

Made for happy raccoons...

Along creeks and rivers it's a different deal. SFAIK, turtles and fish all balance out, just as they always have. Dunno about man-made lakes.


Ranger Al
February 25, 2008, 12:21 PM
I have friends who love turtles soup. I am not sure whats so special about it, tried once and didn't notice special taste about it. Its just doesn't have lots of meat nor does it taste like "chicken"! :rolleyes:

February 25, 2008, 12:47 PM
I would not harm a land terrapin. Someplaces they are eaten as a delicacy(Maryland). I have never eaten one and cant say.

Aquatic turtles come in may species. The only ones I have ever eaten are the so called 'snapping turtles'. Up to a foot or so long they make a good meal. I have seen them three feet from tail to snout. One this size weights 40 or 50 pounds. I can't imagine how old one this size must be, but I have never caught/killed one this size.

As a rule, you catch aquatic turtles in nets or by hand(I'm told, I ain't grabbing a pissed off snapper by hand, they can bite paddles in two) I can't see how you could harvest one for meat if you shot him. They sink and are eaten by other turtles.

A couple of years ago, I was driving down I 95 about 20 miles north of Richmond. A snapper about 2 feet high and 4 feet long had crawled out of a roadside borrow pit and was about to get in the roadway. A state police officer was off on the side trying to keep the snapper from getting on the road. I pulled over and got a 4 foot piece of 2X4 out of my van. As I approached, the trooper jabbed at the snapper with a side handle baton. The turtle grabbed it and would not let go. I told him "son, the old folks say that a snapping turtle won't let go until it thunders."

He said, "give me the board, get in your van and leave, I aim to get my baton back."

I came back the next day. My severely dented 2X4 was leaning up against the railing. There was no turtle, dead or alive in sight. He might have weighed 50 pounds and would have made a lot of turtle soup.

Wyatt Earp
February 25, 2008, 02:17 PM
I agree. Killing things is not "fun". Eating 'em is, but I don't eat everything I shoot.

Are you kidding me, I love to go out and hunt and KILL an animal. I enjoy going out and shooting turtles on a family pond. If you don't shoot them they will eat all the little fish. There is no way I would try to eat one.

I live in Arkansas and enjoy taking advantage of the extended snow goose season. There is nothing more fun than taking out an electric call and killing a truck load of geese, and then I give them away.

I see no difference in riding out and shooting some turtles, FOR FUN, and shooting coyotes or crows.

February 25, 2008, 06:46 PM
I helped the local game and fish department one year control the turtle population in some small kids only fishing ponds. These ponds were in town so we used 22 LR's and of course the ponds were closed to the public and we only did the shooting during non peak hours of the day.

As far as hunting turtles I have only had to bag a few snappers when I was checking set lines and up comes a 3 foot long snapper on the end of the line. A quick shot to the head with an old H&R 922 and lights out. Be careful around the mouth. even when dead they can clamp down and their jaw locks and you have to cut the jaw and use pliers to get it apart (had to do this for a stray dog that found a snapper. had to whack the dog over the head to knock it out and then went to work getting the turtles jaw apart to release it from the dogs paw.

Don't worry the dog turned out ok and my buddy adopted him as he is still running around 9 years later. the dog doesn't mess with turtles anymore.

oh, also did try to store some turtle meat in a deep freezer once and it wouldn't freeze and all spoiled even though the temp in the freezer was close to 10degrees (lots of frozen turkey, deer, etc..).


February 25, 2008, 06:50 PM
We don't have much in the way of turtles around here- I would think that most folks (I would hope) would shy away from shooting one here on the high plains. But darned if it don't bring up a good question- How does one go about cleaning one of them critters? Is there much meat on one, say a 1 or 2lb specimen?

We have them here, but I haven't seen one in several years.

February 25, 2008, 08:00 PM
I know the cajun guys we sold snappers to liked them pretty big...
Having read the book "Survive the Savage Sea" I understand the meat to weight ratio is low...
We used to go barefoot in the "coulee" (county ditch) and when we felt might be a turtle shell we reached down, sometimes having to hold our breath and submerge our head to grab it... How I still have 10 fingers and 10 toes is a mystery to me:rolleyes: just one more attempt at a darwin award I guess but me made lots of money bootleggin' turtles and venomous snakes...

February 25, 2008, 08:12 PM
Wassa matter, you guys don't know how to cook a turtle?:D

Neither do I but my inlaws do and it was very good. I don't shoot em but if one of my inlaw turtle chefs was with me I sure would.

February 25, 2008, 08:23 PM
I agree. Killing things is not "fun". Eating 'em is, but I don't eat everything I shoot.

Are you kidding me, I love to go out and hunt and KILL an animal. I enjoy going out and shooting turtles on a family pond. If you don't shoot them they will eat all the little fish. There is no way I would try to eat one.

I live in Arkansas and enjoy taking advantage of the extended snow goose season. There is nothing more fun than taking out an electric call and killing a truck load of geese, and then I give them away.

I see no difference in riding out and shooting some turtles, FOR FUN, and shooting coyotes or crows.

That's the most consistant statement I've seen on here.

I'm having trouble seeing the diffence between between enjoying smoking Coyotes or other varmits and shooting turtles in a pond.

If you don't enjoy the killing part why not just go out there with a camera rather than a weapon?

Personally I have them coming out my ears at the ranch in my stocktanks and though my MAC-10 with .22 conversion kit probably isn't very effective it's rather amusing. But if your seriously trying to thin them out, I'd go with a 12-gauge and #6 shot when they poke their heads up.

Art Eatman
February 26, 2008, 09:58 AM
Snappers: An article in Sports Afield (IIRC) some years back detailed some info on them. The largest of which the writer knew was around 105 pounds. The longevity is unknown: He said there was a credible report of a snapper taken from the Chattahoochee (again, IIRC) on the AL/GA border, back around the WW II era or maybe earlier, which had a stone arrow point in its shell. That would mean well over a hundred years old.

February 26, 2008, 11:46 AM
I've never seen it necessary to shoot them myself. The right ones are indeed tasty and can be caught by means other than a bullet, like simply with a hook and line and a knife.

February 27, 2008, 01:15 PM
I'd still like to know how one goes about cleaning, skinning, shelling, or shucking one...

February 28, 2008, 09:49 PM
yeah i want to know about the cleaning part. i dont want to assume, cause you know what happens then! but i'd venture to GUESS that you just pull on the legs and cut them out of the sockets and chuck the rest.(?) is there any meat inside the shell worth getting. i have a feeling its 99% guts but like i said i dont know what i'm talking about w/ turtles.

February 28, 2008, 10:16 PM
While I suggest a search for snapper turtle butchering or cleaning on google I do know that that the cajuns split the shell and got to the "shoulder and thigh" meat inside. Some also captured the blood. Some used it in the soup and others well... I dunno... I do know that the blood from sea turtles was a CRUCIAL part of the survival for those in the true story "survive the savage sea" as were the eggs from females.
I also know that the Acadian (cajun) folks from canada arrived destitute and were willing to feed on anything for the most part. The reason for their rare diet is largely based on heritage... Not one usable morsel was to be wasted on down to the fat in the crawfish head which was to be "sucked out"... Eat 'dat tail and suck 'dat head...