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Fun turkey facts to share at the dinner table



turkey_1On Thanksgiving Day families across the state of Nevada will be sitting down together to enjoy a dinner of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing. While most families will be enjoying Butterball, Jennie-O and Foster Farms turkeys, a small number of families will be lucky enough to sit down at the table and enjoy a wild turkey harvested in Nevada.

“Many things make wild turkeys unique to hunt,” said Shawn Espinosa, upland game staff specialist at the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “Including their wariness, the ability to hunt the bird in the spring time during their breeding period, the ability to witness the birds strutting, the ability to call in a male turkey, or gobbler and hearing their gobble in the spring.”

Wild turkeys have excellent eyesight, good hearing and the ability to fly up to 60 miles per hour and to run up to 20 miles per hour. This makes them very difficult to hunt with a very low hunter success rate of 28 percent over the last four years. Still, the great taste of these birds makes it worth the effort.

“Wild turkey is great if prepared correctly,” said Espinosa. “These birds look a lot different than store-bought turkeys when in the roasting pan. They are much leaner and over-cooking can make for a pretty tough meal. I suggest using a meat thermometer to check for proper preparation.”

Nevada’s two species of turkeys include Merriam’s and Rio Grande which can be found in areas throughout the entire state.

“The most popular place has traditionally been the Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area,” said Espinosa. “In the southern part of the state, the Moapa Valley and Lincoln County hunts are very popular as well.”

For more information about hunting wild turkey in Nevada visit ndow.org.

Fun Turkey Facts

  • Ben Franklin believed the turkey should be the official U.S. bird. Franklin said that the turkey, although “vain and silly”, was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was a coward.
  • Since 1947, the National Wild Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He “pardons” it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.
  • The male turkey is called a tom. Adult males are referred to as gobblers. Young males are jakes. Baby turkeys are called poults and are tan and brown.
  • The heaviest turkey ever was domestic, weighed 86 pounds and was about the size of a large dog.
  • Male turkeys’ heads change colors when they become excited.
  • Turkeys lived almost ten million years ago.
  • Forty-five million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million are eaten each Christmas and 19 million are eaten each Easter.
  • Male turkeys gobble while female hens make a clicking noise.
  • A domesticated male turkey can reach a weight of 30 pounds within 18 weeks after hatching.
  • For their first meal on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets.
  • Turkeys have a long, red, fleshy area called a snood that grows from the forehead over the bill. The fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat is called a wattle.
  • There are three cities in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2008, with 456 residents, followed by Turkey Creek, La. (361) and Turkey, N.C. (272). There are also nine townships around the country named Turkey, with three of them in Kansas.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.

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