Jan 12

Wild Turkey

A native of North America the wild turkey is the heaviest family member of birds known as Galliformes . Its relatives are many and number near 290 species to include, grouse, quail and pheasant, to name but a few of the more commonly hunted varieties. The wild turkey are hunted across much of the U.S. and are recognized as the ancestor of today’s domestic turkey. Wild turkey meat is all dark. Contrast to their domestic brethren whose breast are white meat and legs are dark meat. Male turkeys are called toms and females are referred to as hens.

I have eaten wild turkey and find them to be tough. I prefer the farm raised domestic variety for food. There are two seasons for hunting turkey in PA.- Autumn and Spring. Hunting turkey requires a shot-gun, calling a turkey with the use of a turkey call to simulate the sounds of a turkey, and a lot of patience. A turkey’s eyesight is apparently quite good so the hunter must also wear a full camouflage outfit to conceal his position and blend into the environment.

The other common games birds are considered delicacies on the hunter’s table and there is no doubt that wild game birds are a delicious treat especially during the winter months, though for me, there is too much bone and feather to make them worthy of the time and energy it takes to hunt in the field and then clean and cook them. I might make the exception for duck and pheasant.

Wing-shooting, that is, the use of a shotgun to shoot birds in flight is a great skill and a lot of fun to boot! Training and practice for this is done on a skeet or trap range, where shooting clay”birds” is a lively competitive sport. I would enjoy finding a partner to shoot with at a local course that I have found. I’ve shot this course 2 or 3 times and it is a blast! It is a very well designed and nicely maintained public shooting range. Perhaps I will have time this summer or fall to join a league and shoot a little more regularly.

With the exception of turkeys the practice of hunting game birds usually requires the use of a well trained dog to point and flush them into flight. Training a bird dog is an additional cost and labor related to this type of hunting. I will admit that a well trained bird dog is impressive to watch at work. Their ability to follow a scent, the discipline required to hold on point before receiving the command to flush, and finally, retrieve the downed bird makes a bird dog a very valuable partner on the hunt. For most folks who dabble in the hunting of pheasant or other upland game-birds, the easiest option is to hunt on a private game reservation. This type of place provide well trained dogs to flush-point and retrieve the birds, stocked hunting grounds with an abundance of birds to shoot and most often they offer a service to clean, pack and ship your game home. Needless to say this is a wealthy mans manner of hunting. The average turkey hunter is generally not in the same league as those who will pay to hunt stocked game lands. To each his own.

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