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The Thanksgiving Turkey

Nov 18, 2018

Chances are, a turkey will land on your table this week, a bird simmered in American tradition.

The turkey was once so common in America and so well liked that it was considered for our national emblem, along with the bald eagle.

Turkeys are large and powerful, standing three feet tall when alert. They have bare necks covered with red and blue, bumpy skin. Long legs, broad wings and tail make them swift runners, as well as quick flyers for short distances. Their feathers are large, mostly brown, barred with black. Body feathers reflect shades of bronze, green, gold, and blue--beautiful colors that help turkeys blend into wooded areas.

Turkeys were domesticated by Native Americans and brought to Europe in the sixteenth century. Taken from Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors, turkeys later returned as domesticated birds with the English settlers. The wild turkey almost disappeared from our continent due to excessive hunting and loss of forest habitat. Today, thanks to restoration efforts, the wild turkey has been restored in many areas.

So, whether you place a wild or domestic turkey on your thanksgiving table, you’ll be sharing a piece of our American heritage. Watch some tasty ways to prepare your wild turkey in the video below with MDC's Kyle Lairmore and Missourinet's Bill Pollock.

Archery Season for Turkey

Archery Season begins again on November 21, 2018 and runs through January 15, 2019.
Hunting your own Thanksgiving turkey this fall? Here are some important tips to keep in mind.

  • In the fall there is little or no gobbling activity during the day and gobblers are in small flocks (3 to 10 birds). Hens and young of the year are together in large flocks (10 to 20 birds). It is not unusual to find two to three hens together with all their young.
  • The basic strategy for fall turkey hunting is to find and break up a flock, scattering them in all directions. Then, locate yourself as near as possible to the spot where you broke up the flock and wait about 10 minutes before you start calling.
  • Remember to follow the basic rules of safe turkey hunting: In order to be safe, always wrap a bagged turkey or decoy in hunter orange when transporting it or carry them in a turkey hunting vest.
  • Note: Any hunter who kills or injures a turkey must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and include it in their season limit, but this does not authorize trespass.
  • It is a violation to wantonly leave, abandon, or waste commonly edible portions of game.
  • Anyone using a turkey call to assist another hunter must be properly licensed with either a filled or unfilled spring turkey hunting permit.
  • If you hunt during a managed hunt, season limits still apply.

Learn more about turkey hunting.

Adult-Onset Hunting Part 6 The Turkey Harvest

Watch a new turkey hunter learn how to prepare his harvest
Watch a new turkey hunter learn how to prepare his harvest

Caney Mountain Turkey Restoration Story

Watch the story of how wild turkey's were brought back in Missouri.
Watch the story of how wild turkey's were brought back in Missouri.

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