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Want to Add Wild Turkey to Your Thanksgiving Table?

Wild game holiday meals involve more work but a better end result.

We've all watched a movie or television show where a busy housewife raced urgently to get to the supermarket, only to find that either no turkeys were left on the shelves for her family's Thanksgiving feast or that she had to do battle with one or two other people to get that turkey to the check out line. It's a classic roadblock used in holiday films to call into question whether or not the central characters can pull off a great holiday, even if all of their traditions are taken away.

However, it's a bit of an oversight that none of those films or TV shows ever feature a character who hits the woods to hunt a wild turkey of his or her own to save the holiday. Those of us who live and die by our time spent hunting know how much sweeter wild game can taste than an expensive store-bought turkey.

For one thing, there's a beautiful pride in knowing that you hunted, prepared, carved, and served the turkey meat that your family members are enjoying appreciatively at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. For another, wild turkey is simply better for you, free of the fatty tissues and growth hormones that farmers load their turkeys up with to boost their size and weight.

Wild Turkey (meleagris Gallopavo)

In short, a wild game holiday meal can be an interesting break with tradition, and it is definitely worth a try if you are a hunter but have always gotten your holiday birds at the store in the past. Before you decide to execute a wild game meal during the holidays, however, make sure that you know what you are up against.

If you've only served Butterball turkeys - bought from the local grocery store and roasted in your oven - then you need to understand that having a wild turkey isn't going to be quite the same.

For one thing, preparing a wild turkey is more work intensive than preparing a store-bought turkey ever is or ever will be. Not only do you have to go out into the field, hunt the turkey, and kill it by yourself - all without spoiling the majority of the meat with your shotgun pellets - but you also have to remove those pellets later, field dress the bird, and pluck all of its feathers.

Even once your wild turkey starts looking something like the turkeys you buy from the store - albeit much leaner - you still have a bit of a challenge in front of you. For generations, farmers have perfected their methods for breeding and raising turkeys, all in an effort to make it as delicious, juicy, and easy to cook as possible.

In short, store-bought turkeys are like the "consumer model" of a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, while wild turkeys bring a much more do-it-yourself learning curve to the table. Depending on how you like to cook your bird - oven roasting, back porch grilling, deep frying, etc. - you should look around for recipes and strategies to help you along.

Your wild game holiday meal is going to taste different than the meat you've eaten for holiday meals before, but with the right seasonings and cooking methods, you should be able to turn it into a delicious and memorable feast that your whole family will appreciate.

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Want to Add Wild Turkey to Your Thanksgiving Table?