Riege: Grilling Wild Turkey

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The wild turkey is an American bird, found no place else in the world. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, one of the first ships that were sent back to Spain carried a few of the colorful birds. In those days most of the new, exotic things came from the East and somehow the word got around that the gaudy creatures had come from Turkey, hence the name.

It was Benjamin Franklin who wanted the wild turkey to be our national emblem. Anyone that has seen the display that a tom turkey puts on in the spring of the year can testify that he is a magnificent example of pride and strength. As a sportsman I am glad that Ben didn’t get his way. If he had there wouldn’t be an open season on the national emblem and we would miss some of the greatest hunting possible.

Over the past years the turkey has made a ” come back” in many states do to transplanting. The transplanted turkeys come from four major subspecies of native wild turkeys. The Eastern, found in the hard woods forest of the East, South, Southcentral, and Midwestern states. The Osceola or Florida turkey; the Rio Grande of Texas, also found in Oklahoma and Kansas and the Merriam’s found in the Rocky Mountain States. Some experts believe that there are even more subspecies such as the Gould’s and the Hybrid. Don’t misunderstand me the turkey is quite a game bird. The novice hunter will be up against a 20-pound bird that can run about 15 mph with 3-4 foot strides. Even if the turkey is large it can clear the highest trees within seconds and cruise at 40 mph. It has other remarkable traits such as, super sharp vision, hearing and intelligence. Match these with the speed of flight and evasive running abilities you can understand the challenge of hunting such a formidable game bird.

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States that have a turkey season usually have two turkey seasons. Some of them have turkey hunting by permit only and a hunter must enter a drawing to have the privilege of hunting. In a fall hunt either male or female turkeys may be taken. The spring season is for gobblers only. Nothing celebrates the holidays like a family gathering with a roast turkey dinner as the centerpiece.

Brine Bath or Long Soaking Wild Turkey Recipe.

Before you cook your bird, no matter how you cook it, a long brine soak will make it better. It’s easy, and only requires a little planning.

1 whole turkey

• For each gallon of water, add the following

• 1 cup Tenderquick (pickling salt) or other liquid meat tenderizer

• 2 cups apple juice

• ½ cup brown sugar

• 1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke (just in case)

• 1 Tbsp black pepper

• ¼ cup of soy sauce

• ¼ Tbsp garlic powder

• Zest 2 lemons – Then ½ them and squeeze juice into brine

Use hot water to dissolve the ingredients. Make one gallon to start with and place it in a five-gallon plastic bucket. Make enough to cover the bird in the mixture. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Then place the turkey in the mixture and refrigerate it for a day. Before smoking, air dry for one hour. Especially on a wild turkey I like to wrap it in bacon so it doesn’t dry out. Smoking time will vary depending on temperature and size of the bird. You might have to smoke it for five hours. Therefore, I will place it on my Weber grill. Smoke it for an hour then finish it off in a 350-degree oven. That way you have the smoke bird and you will also have the smell of the roasted turkey in your home. The outcome is the same and the taste is fantastic.