I’ve mentioned this before in columns about fall turkey hunting, but as Paul Harvey used to say, this is the rest of the story! Wild turkey was a main part of the first Thanksgiving and the pilgrims and the first settlers of this great nation. Wild turkeys were common to these pioneers.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that was a feast of Thanksgiving for residents of the colonies. The pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event. Turkeys were served for that dinner.
In short, that is why “turkey” for the family Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition, a tradition started by the pilgrims. Americans have been hunting turkeys in the fall ever since. Spring turkey hunting wasn't even legal until the 1950s, when the Alabama Department of Conservation experimented with a spring gobbler season. Most people associate turkey hunting with spring.
Fall turkey hunting has been gaining popularity as turkey populations grow. Most states have fall seasons to expand hunting opportunities for hunters. Nebraska’s fall season is open now and runs until January 31, 2019.
Fall turkey hunting offers some advantages and opportunities that make it a great time to get into the sport of turkey hunting. First, in most states that offer a season allow both sexes to be taken in the fall, and that greatly improves your chances of success.
Secondly, there are more turkeys in the fall than any other time of the year. This means your chances of getting a bird are the best it’s going to get. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission surveys indicate that turkey populations may be up more than 500 percent over the last decade. There are more turkeys now in Nebraska than there ever has been any time in recorded history.
Third, it is a great time to introduce new hunters to the sport. Fall is the best chance a new hunter has for success, and you want them to be successful!
I have had quite a few emails the past couple of weeks asking for turkey recipes. Since a lot of folks have a turkey by now, I thought it would be a good time to pass along a couple of the recipes I’ve developed. These recipes are created with my cooking philosophy of Quick, Simple, Easy and Good. Here goes…..
Grilled Turkey Breasts
This is a very easy recipe to prepare at home or in the field. The finished meat has a sweet and spicy taste to it. Give it a try
2-4 Turkey breasts (boneless, filleted from the bird)
½ Cup of Heinz 57 Sauce
½ Cup of honey
Mix the 57 Sauce and honey together
Clean and prepare the breast fillets for cooking (be sure to remove all shot)
Place on the grill over medium heat (be careful not to overcook)
Grill on each side for one minute to seal the fillets
Brush on sauce mixture
Cook for an additional minute, flip breast and brush on more sauce mixture.
Repeat this process a couple of times until you have a think layer of the sauce on the meat
Wild Turkey Salad
It doesn’t matter what size of turkey you take this fall, hen, jake or tom, this recipe will make it taste great.
1 Wild turkey
1 Bottle of Miracle Whip dressing
1 Small bottle (about 12 ounces) of sweet pickle relish
1 Small bottle of yellow mustard
Remove all the meat from the turkey carcass
Slice, dice, chop the turkey into ¼ inch pieces, or less
For every pound of turkey meat, mix in one cup of Miracle Whip and one cup of relish
For every two pounds of turkey meat, mix in one cup of mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve on bread for a quick on-the-go sandwich or crackers for a great tasting snack.
And finally, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this column!