While the season may be ending Saturday, there's still time for Michigan hunters to bag a bird just in time for Thanksgiving.
Michigan hunters, for the next several days, have the opportunity to hunt both male and female turkeys.
A state that once had a booming wild turkey population prior to European settlement saw a rapid decline in numbers due to habitat loss and overhunting. Michigan began their attempts to boost turkey population in the 1950s and continued into the 1980s, implanting turkeys from Missouri and Iowa into the Michigan wild.
"From Bay City to Muskegon (and south), that was the ancestral range, but there was no DNR or anyone watching over the resources. . . by 1900, wild turkeys were extirpated in the state," said Al Stewart of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to the Detroit Free Press.
It's obvious that these efforts were not in vain, as Michigan is now home to over 200,000 turkeys. The state offers outdoorsmen and women both a spring and fall turkey hunting season.
"You can harvest a male or female wild, organically grown turkey you can bring to your table to feed your family," Stewart says. Wayne Markland of the National Wild Turkey Federation also states that the United States turkey populations have skyrocketed from 1.7 million in 1973 to over 7 million this year.
Turkeys can be a difficult but exciting bird to hunt. Their incredible sense of sight and hearing create thrilling challenges for hunters participating in the seasons.
"Many people love to hunt wild turkey. Much like elk, they are responsive and they talk to you," Markland explains.
Stewart explains that wild turkey has even better flavor than store-bought birds, "It's not that wild gamy taste that people fear. It's that robust nutty flavor the bird has." He says, "There's some great recreation and the satisfaction that you got a bird that you are sharing with your family and knowing it's a native bird."
Head out there, Michiganders, and let us know how your turkey hunt goes!