"Just" A Jake

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

of hens every night and pitch down to them in the morning. To call one of these gobblers, knowledgeable hunters challenge the dominant hen of the flock and call her in. The others often follow, as will the tom.

Another strategy veteran hunters use to lure in an old gobbler is to listen to the gobbler fly up with his hens in the evening, then scatter the flock at dusk. In the morning, the tom will more likely come to a hunter's hen call.

Jakes have different social roles than old gobblers. They typically don't have a strutting zone where hens come to them to breed, and they usually don't command a harem. Also, they tend to travel with other jakes.

Naturally, jakes will respond to hen calls in the spring, but they will also come to gobbler yelps. A time-honored way to tag a bird out of a group of unresponsive jakes is to scatter them, wait 30 minutes or so, and then call in one of the jakes with gobbler yelps. Separated from the security of numbers, panicky jakes are eager to rejoin their group, and they're not as cautious.

Whether you're hunting a jake or an old gobbler, the basic principles of turkey hunting always remain constant. Scouting, sitting still, patience, good calling, proper position and accurate shooting are the keys to consistent success. When you combine these principles to bag a bird, you have measured up to one of the greatest challenges Missouri has to offer. The age of the bird doesn't matter. Simply bagging a bird is sufficient reason to be both thankful and proud.

Preparing the Bird

Whether the bird you kill this spring is a gobbler or a jake, converting it to a tasty main course is easy. Fried turkey breast is a delicious old-time favorite.

Remove the breast meat from the breastbone. Cut the meat across the grain into strips and soak them in milk. Coat the turkey strips in flour well mixed with seasoned salt. Either deep- or pan-fry.

You can also wrap the breasts in bacon and cook them on a smoker. Use a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature of the breasts reaches 150 degrees, the meat is done. Forget about the 180 degrees recommended for domestic fowl. A wild turkey will go dry if it gets that hot.

For the meat on the legs, thighs and carcass, boil it until tender. Let cool, and then strip off all meat. Grind the meat in a food processor and then add Miracle Whip and pickle relish to make turkey salad.

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