Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Turkey Down

DH, me and the threesome
Saturday, April 14, 2012.  The first turkey our family has killed.  A Jake, but we are proud.  Turkey hunting is fun and challenging.  We've spent many hours in the woods, gotten chances to shoot, but missed or gotten busted by the turkeys' keen awareness.  So, this day is particularly sweet to us.
Here's the hunting tale:
My in-laws were in town.  My husband and father-in-law had went into town, but had forgotten one important item: our present for his mom for Mother's Day.  They'd be leaving on Sunday, so rather than mail it, I wanted to go back towards town, a bit of a drive seeing as we live in a mountainous area that is sparsely populated, to get the present.  My husband and I went to purchase the gift, my in-laws took our brood and went up the mountain to my parents' place.  I was getting worried.  We needed to get out in the turkey hunting woods.  But, we'd make it work and get it all done.
We got to my parents' property and immediately went fishing at their stocked pond.  The girls wound up pulling 4 or 5 fish out, but put them back because my DH said it wasn't worth the trouble to skin them out since they wouldn't feed all of us.  I drove my mother to the house on their 4-wheeler, went back to the pond to get my mother-in-law and went to the house again.  I started helping my Dad cook the supper, heating up things that had gotten cold.  The mothers were bird watching on the porch.  Dad and I started to get antsy, as we do.  We needed to get out in the woods.  I wish I had a drawing of the property to show you the layout, but I'll do the best I can to describe it.  Maybe one day I can scan in a drawing and add it to the post.
Dad's house sits atop a hill.  Just southeast of it is the valley, with another ridge opposite the house.  From the bottom of the driveway, if you go northeast, there is a drop off into a valley that has a creek running through it.  A noisy creek that branches off creating three distinct areas that birds my peck in the grass.  They heavily use two of those grassy areas on either side of the main section of the creek.  The creek runs northwest, so we'll call one side of it the eastern side and one the northern.  So, my Dad walked down the driveway, around the top of the eastern ridge that dropped him down into the eastern grassy area.  I walked behind the house to walk across the roadway and drop into the northern area of the two sections.  My Dad already had warned me that he thought we were scaring turkeys off walking in that way, but I was stubborn.  I'd walked in that way many times last season and still saw plenty of turkeys during my hunts.  I was going in my way.
As I rounded the curve of the road, starting towards my final hunting spot, I felt sure I was being quiet.  Walking a couple of steps, stopping, listening and looking.  I searched the opposite bank, expecting that Dad would take a lot longer to walk to his spot than I had.  Suddenly, he jumped up from behind some tall weeds next to the dirt road he was crouching on, waving his arms, pointing downstream, towards the woods where the creek empties into a marshy area and on into an old grist mill, then a pond.  I didn't see or hear anything.  Couldn't figure out what in the world he was up to.  I figured he could see one coming off the ridge, so I had better get situated quickly.
I found a spot, put on my ghillie cape and disappeared.  I placed my camo Mossberg 20 gauge shotgun with a full choke tube across my legs and waited.  I clucked a couple of times using my slate call, made contented feeding noises that calm turkeys make and then stopped.  Birds can be call shy, so I didn't want to overdo it.
In the meantime, my DH and his father finally brought the girls back from fishing, stopped up at the house to eat and started to dress and come down to hunt.  They went behind the house, to the road/drive that feeds to other areas and walked it around to drop down into the valley below Dad's house.  They climbed a little ways up the ridge opposite the house to sit and wait.
FIL left, DH right with his Remington 12 ga shotgun a.k.a "Killer"

I got bored, looked over to where my Dad was sitting behind a tree and realized he was gone!  Well, that is not uncommon, let me tell you.  He is impatient and has major, life altering back pain, so if he doesn't see and turkeys during a hunt, he leaves.  He figured we'd scared the birds off, so why bother sitting any longer than necessary. 
My DH and his Dad had gotten situated around 20 yards apart so as to confuse the turkeys.  His Dad was calling them in, unarmed, since he is from Michigan and has no desire to purchase an out-of-state license for this one day.  He just wanted to tag along.  He's a hunter.  He had an excuse to be in the woods.  Nuff said.  So, my FIL is calling turkeys, but I can't hear it because sounds travel in unique ways in the mountains and valleys.  They begin to hear footsteps.  Unsure of what is making that sound, they both go on high alert. 
Next thing I know, I hear a shot, and two hollers.  Like woop sounds.  So, I get up, get my gear together and holler up to the house.  My Dad comes to get me on the 4-wheeler so I don't have to walk up the monster hill on my way up.  He tells me that yell was my DH.  He said, "I got him!"  So now we are excited, waiting to see the turkey.  The first one in camp.  The first out of our threesome to get a bird.  Dad drove me up to the house, I dropped off my gear and we headed out to pick up DH and FIL.  The bird is a Jake, legal and we are proud.

DH flexing his killing muscle
Fast forward about 7 days.  I want to cook this turkey!  But, there is some more processing to do.  There is a fine skin, fine layer of, well, I'm not sure what it is.  But, it lives between the skin and the breast meat.  So, with much fussing and cussing, I removed as much of that layer and any sinew or blood vessels remaining and proceeded to bread the wild turkey meat and fry it in oil in my cast iron pan.  It didn't go well.  Now, I was frustrated with removing all of the extras and in a rush now, because I felt under the gun to get supper on the table.  I piled Italian Bread Crumbs on the meat, and they proceeded to stick to the pan, so I pulled them out, put them on a broiler pan to catch the excess grease, and put them in the oven to bake them until done.  My daughters and husband liked the turkey supper.  Me, not so much. 
Here's where I sidestep into some background: I was raised in a suburb of NYC, in Rockland County, NY.  None of my family hunts.  None have probably even thought much about it.  My husband was raised in rural MI.  He was raised on deer meat, wild turkey, squirrel, pheasant, goose, duck and more I probably don't even realize.  Deer was an acquired taste for me.  It took me a long time to learn how to cook it.  Now, I'm pretty good at it.  Anyway, back to turkey.
Fast forward another couple of days.  I am determined to make the leftover turkey better the second time around.  I decide on soup.  I fast soaked navy beans and pinto beans, rinsed them, then let them cool.  I added water, chicken bouillon cubes, onions, celery, garlic powder, salt and pepper and I let it simmer for about 2-3 hours.  It was G-O-O-D.  Yummy delish.  Now that's the way to cook wild turkey!
Wild Turkey Soup Recipe was Y-U-M-M-Y

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