Steve Hickoff is the Realtree Turkey Hunting Editor and Blogger. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country. It's "all turkeys, all the time" on the Realtree Turkey Blog.
November 22, 2010 | By Steve Hickoff
Thanksgiving focuses on family, football and food.
It's time to enjoy what you've reaped from your hunts this fall. The following recipe can work as an entrée or an appetizer.
Here's the gamebird soup I often whip up on cold autumn days . . .
(1) First, soak 10 oz. of Hurst's “HamBeens” brand beans in a bowl of water overnight while you're sleeping.
(2) The next day, parboil two defrosted pheasant breasts, and several ringneck drumsticks for 90 minutes, rinse in cold water, and cull the meat. Grouse and wild turkey breast meat and legs, my favorite this time of the year, and even farm fowl (you can make this recipe with leftovers) will do — all work well with this simple recipe. At times, I also put darker woodcock or duck breast meat in there too.
(3) To a stovetop lobster pot add 64 oz. of Swanson 99% fat free chicken broth, followed by the beans (after draining and rinsing).
(4) Add the meat then bring that to a boil.
(5) Covered (with the lid's steam escape window open), tweak it down to medium heat, and let it cook several hours, stirring occasionally.
(6) About 20 minutes before eating, cook up several cups of Carolina Jasmine Thai Hom Mali rice on the stovetop, put that in a bowl when ready, and cover it with gamebird soup.
Fresh baked bread and a fresh green salad goes great with this meal as well.
These ingredients and amounts serve up roughly five soup bowls. Adjust accordingly.
(Steve Hickoff text/photo)
November 15, 2010 | By Steve Hickoff
“It’s supposed to be tough. That’s the whole point.”
—Jim Spencer, turkey bum
We turkey hunters like to name spring gobblers: the tough ones, the easy kills and in the case of author Jim Spencer, bad birds.
That’s the title of his new book too.
“Bad Birds,” subtitled “A collection of mostly true stories starring the gobblers we all love to hate,” is the kind of book that’ll get you through the long stretch of time to come, before our own personal reunions with bad birds kick in during spring gobbler season.
What’s a bad bird according to Spencer? “It’s the sometimes affectionate but always aggravated nickname hunters use when referring to an individual gobbler that is even more stubborn, unpredictable and perplexing than his brethren—who in their own right are already plenty stubborn, unpredictable and perplexing.”
Here’s the thing: If these 40-plus chapters say anything, Spencer enjoys the difficulty. It’s the effort to solve the puzzle each gobbler presents that drives him. Each piece carefully chronicles hunt stories (battles in some cases) that include, as the author says, “. . . an unbroken string of bad birds for more than three decades—winning some, losing some and fighting some to an indecisive stalemate.”
You’ll meet such characters as Bobby Fischer, Tex, Pigpen, and Sneaky Pete to name just four of many gobblers—all bad birds. Sometimes he tags one; sometimes he doesn’t. It doesn’t really seem to matter in the end: he’s out there, hunting, trying to outfox the latest bad bird that’s answered his locator call.
It’s a good book, written in an easygoing narrative style. It belongs on your bookshelf, right next to your collected Tom Kelly titles, but only after you read it a time or two.
“Bad Birds” is a paperback with more than 230 pages and many photographs, including Tes Randle Jolly’s wonderful images. It retails for $15.99, plus $5 shipping and handling. For copies write to Treble Hook Unlimited, P.O. Box 758, Calico Rock, AR 72519, or simply order online from www.treblehookunlimited.com/.
November 11, 2010 | By Steve Hickoff
Some guys do it from treestands while hunting deer, and the turkey tastes just as good. It's a bonus on the Thanksgiving Day table.
Some guys do it from ground blinds on turkey flocks they've patterned to feeding zones.
Yet other guys do it on foot, bow in hand, scattering flocks and setting up to call them back, hiding behind a portable blind or natural cover.
Our man Will Brantley is one of those proficient two-season turkey bowhunters who can actually find, flush and fill his tag. With an arrow.
He's pictured here, still in game face mode, with a Kentucky wild turkey he anchored this season.
Have you ever arrowed a fall turkey? If so, how'd you manage it? Tell us the story here at the Realtree Turkey blog.
(Will Brantley photo)
November 3, 2010 | By Steve Hickoff
Got your cup of coffee and game face on? Check out our Realtree Turkey Q. & A. Cool info. you won’t learn watching Jeopardy.
Question 1: What is the internal body temperature of a wild turkey?
A) 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
B) 103 degrees F.
C) 77.1 degrees F.
D) Cold as a Maine winter.
Answer: B) is the correct answer, which allows turkeys to thrive in cold places like Maine where I write this.
Question 2: You and a buddy are out scouting. You come across a turkey breast feather. How can you determine whether it’s from a gobbler or a hen?
A) The tip of the gobbler breast feather is rounded; the hen feather is more pointed.
B) A gobbler breast feather is pure black, while a hen feather’s tip is edged in black.
C) A gobbler breast feather is edged in black, while a hen’s feather is edged in brown.
D) None of the above.
Answer: C) is the correct answer. As a point of interest, breast feathers from young summer poults are mottled in brown, pointed and pheasant-like.
Question 3: How many vocalizations do wild turkeys make, including calls by both gobblers and hens?
B) Three: the cluck, yelp and gobble.
C) Over 100.
D) An even dozen.
Answer: A) If you answered 30+ you’re correct. Lost poult whistling, four kinds of hen yelps (tree, plain, assembly and lost) are just five of them.
Question 4: How fast can a wild turkey fly?
A) Fast as a NASCAR driver (insert your favorite here).
B) 55 miles per hour.
C) 7 m.p.h.
D) Wild turkeys can’t fly.
Answer: B) 55 miles per hour, the average speed limit on many asphalt roads in turkey country. These big birds can only wing this velocity in short bursts, especially when alarmed and flushed.
Question 5: A wild turkey has how many tail feathers?
Answer: B) A wild turkey almost always has 18 tail feathers, consisting of 9 matched pairs on each side of the middle. Occasionally, a turkey may have 20 tail feathers, or an odd number of tail feathers due gobbler fights, etc. Moreover, this is rare.
Got a tough wild turkey question for us? Send it along.
(NWTF Media Photo)
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