According to the National Turkey Federation, a poultry industry advocacy group, U.S. consumption of turkey meat has climbed to 17.6 pounds per person per year. That is up 108 percent since 1970.

The average American will consume 29 percent of their turkey intake between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We take off our collective hats in salute to the turkey production industry for their efficiency at producing poultry and selling it to us. And then we put our hats back on. We can get our own turkey, thank you.

In our family, we try to keep the menu wild and in a lot of cases, we end up saving money. But recently, in the interests of research, we procured a farm-raised bird. Said turkey, which weighed in at 12 pounds ready-to-cook, cost $14.23. $1.19 per pound.

That was a bit of a reality check. My last wild turkey cost me, with meals and fuel figured in, at least $8 per pound and a two-week rash of poison oak. On the positive side, that bird, a hen with nearly an eight-inch beard, was one of the best-eating turkeys I have ever had. And the bagging of that bird made a way better story than the manner in which we obtained our research bird.

Most people think of hunting wild turkeys in the spring, but many states have fall seasons.

This time of year, the birds are in good sized groups. Hens make up the largest bunches. Young jakes run together and the bigger toms keep to themselves, in bands of eight to ten.

Pay the most attention to river bottoms near stands of oak. Turkeys like to eat acorns, but they also prospect in open meadows on grubs, worms and insects. In ranchland, the turkeys fatten up around sheep and cattle feeders, where they scavenge spilled corn and grain.

Fall turkeys will come to a call, but ambush tactics seem to pay off better at this time of year. To stay concealed, use full camouflage, a facemask and camo gloves. Wrap your shotgun barrel or bow limbs with Camo Form® gun camo.

Spot and stalk, or set up a blind and let them come to you. Plan to stay out all day. If the weather threatens rain, prep your camo rain jacket with ReviveX® jacket waterproofing.

A wild turkey hunt can come with exercise you won’t get in the frozen food aisle. Shop for your turkey with a shotgun this holiday season. You’ll get a chance at a bird that is as organic as organic gets, lean, free-range, with no added hormones or antibiotics. It’s a bird that tastes as good, or better, than any frozen fowl.

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Gary Lewis is an outdoor writer, speaker and television host from Bend, Oregon. Contact Lewis at www.garylewisoutdoors.com, on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

 

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