Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

Turkey Tracks: Wild Maine Male Turkeys’ Behavior Explained

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Turkey Tracks:  January 5, 2013

Wild Maine Male Turkeys’ Behavior Explained

The phone rang last night–mid evening.

My first cousin, Rusty Bryan had just read the blog entry about the strange behavior of our wild Maine male turkeys.

Rusty has forgotten more about hunting, fishing, farming, and wild turkeys than most of us will ever know.

The juvenile wild male turkeys, or jakes, he said, were being “schooled” by the older males, the toms.  The behavior I witnessed is something he has seen many times.

What followed was a delightful phone visit and a promise on his part to come to Maine to eat lobster and to check out our wild turkeys–and a promise not to shoot my “yard turkeys”–a promise he made after a hearty laugh and the acknowledgment that he knew I’d feel that way.

We also lamented the fact that maybe none of us wrote down how his mother, Martha Dykes Bryan, used to cook wild turkey.  You can’t cook them like a domesticated turkey–and the legs are always too tough to eat no matter what you do.  But I’ve eaten the wild turkey breast many times in Reynolds, Georgia, growing up, and it’s fabulous–when cooked right.  The recipe went something like this memory–she put the seasoned turkey in a closed, heavy pan, cooked it at 500 degrees for one (or two?) hours, and then let it sit in the oven for some time–over night???  Rusty said that wild turkeys have a lovely layer of fat just under the skin that can baste the meat gently if not overcooked.

People up here say that our turkeys don’t get a lot of food that makes the meat taste good, but I think it’s that they don’t know how to really cook them the way my Aunt Martha did.  In any case, if there’s ever a food shortage and we need meat, I’ll know just where to look!!!

Sadly, Rusty has not been able to hunt wild turkeys for many years now.  The land has all been bought and busted up by new owners from Atlanta and elsewhere and put into hunting clubs–so there’s no land for Rusty to hunt anymore.  It’s sad to see a cherished way of life disappear.

Written by louisaenright

January 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm

One Response

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  1. Hey…I bet some of Uncle Sydney’s hunting buddies has a kin member who might know how to cook wild turkeys.

    Susan Heath

    January 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm


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