The poet and novelist Jim Harrison once said that skinning a bird is a sin against God and man. I agree.
The skin holds flavor, provides fat, protects the meat from drying out during cooking, and provides a wonderful crisp when properly cooked. Retaining the skin of a bird requires you to pluck it.
Harrison’s warning should be taken especially to heart by turkey hunters, who handle only one or two of these birds per year, if they’re lucky. It takes minimal time and effort to do the job right; the reward is better looking, better tasting wild game dishes that will leaving you feeling proud of the fact that you utilized your resources to their maximum potential. An exception is diver ducks, don’t pluck them, the fat tastes a little fishy on most.
While I advocate gutting birds soon after killing them, it can be helpful if you hold off on gutting the bird so long as you’re going to pluck it within a few hours. This makes plucking easier, as the edge of the gutting incision is a tad bit harder to pluck otherwise.
If you decide not to heed Mr. Harrison’s warning, little instruction is required for skinning a bird. Just pluck a small area above the cloaca, slice through the skin, and start peeling. The job goes quickly.