Forget “Grease” – It’s the “Bird” That’s the Word!
If a vote was taken in households across the country, the favorite moment of Thanksgiving would probably end up to be a tie between the presentation of the turkey, and the ‘favorite’ football team who won the game. Of course, with football you only get a slight bit of happiness, especially when it’s not your team that’s playing. However, with the “Bird” – the King of the Meal, so to speak – a very long time of happiness is had by one and all. Even the next day when the house clears out for Black Friday shopping and you’re left alone to dive directly back into the bird – enjoyment continues for a good long time.
Choosing the hunt – choosing the bird to bag – is sometimes a difficult choice for hunters to make. And when they’re asked about the wild bird shooting they began in early November, they do recognize the differences between the pheasant, duck, turkey, etcetera. What everyone should know (especially the ones cooking the meal), is the variety of game birds that are out there for the taking in order to make the centerpiece of the meal truly inviting. And turkey, although the one most talked about, is not the only option the hunter has for the all-important meal.
Pheasant is something hunters truly head to the fields for in droves in order to nab. On opening weekend just a few days ago, the hunters carrying their trusty shotguns were able to reach their limit fairly quickly. Of course, after surveys were taken, it seems that private property is still the most utilized site for the majority of pheasant hunters in the Northeast, with many acres that offer both waterfowl and upland game hunting. In the Northern states, such as the Dakotas, the number of game birds are so huge that hunting them is not an issue at all. Whereas, unfortunately for the West, (i.e., California) pheasants have become a problem to hunt seeing as that spring plowing happens at the exact time pheasants make their nests; which means the eggs are plowed over and pheasant hunting goes out the window when fall comes around.
When it comes to the actual hunt of the pheasant, there are many hunters who work simultaneously in order to block the bird’s movement. And, of course, the dog (who is also the King of the house) is used by almost every hunter because they know their value. As hunters are already aware, a pheasant will likely work like an FBI agent, staying undercover as the hunter walks on by. But with the trusty canine companion, the bird is sniffed out and sent packing. And if the birds you hunt do not take to the air and simply run, that’s where those blockers at the end of the field come in handy.
Now, when it comes to the majority’s ‘favorite’ poultry choice for Thanksgiving – the turkey – these lower-elevation birds are mostly hunted on private property, as well. But for many property owners, they don’t care for the turkey except to see him on the serving platter, so most will grant hunters the right to clear their property of them.
When it comes to the turkey, you’re talking about a truly wary bird. In the spring, its during mating season when the hunter sets up a decoy and then waits for hours until the turkey comes looking for a little romance. But in the fall, ‘Jakes’ – which are the ‘new’ generation – sit with the hens in one group while the adult males hang out by themselves and ‘watch the action.’
During the fall, a hunter can aim for any turkey that comes within the range of their shotgun, although these large birds do roost in trees and only come down around dawn in order to feed and water. Yup, you’re talking a very early rise in order to nab that one. Although, as you know, there is nothing like a wild turkey when it comes to Thanksgiving happiness.
There is also the dove. I know, this may cause some to be ill considering the dove is something that stands for peace and not ‘war,’ but for many hunters who see the hunting activity slow down a great deal by the end of the year, a flight of doves can seem like a gift.
Now…the goose is also good for roasting – even though they’re associated more with Christmas dinner. But for a small group coming together for the holiday, a goose or a pheasant is the absolute right answer to what you’ll serve when a turkey didn’t find its way into the house. Even a guinea hen is sought by some hunters, as well as quail and squab – although they’re not as common. But, really, with some chestnuts, duck oil, some awesome stuffing that Grandma always made since you were a young boy or girl – these ‘add-ons’ can make any bird look just as inviting as ‘Tom Turkey.’
The duck can be hunted and served for those who like one of those ‘classic’ holiday meals. And if you come from a hunter’s family that actually prefers ‘red’ meat at the table – deer hunting allows for tender venison which was most likely served at the very first Thanksgiving.
Let’s face it – hunters and diners alike – as long as it’s not some bird that’s made with Tofu, then your Thanksgiving hunt AND meal is going to be spectacular!
P.S. Don’t forget to give your canine a few scraps as well…considering he helped you nab the bird in the first place!