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Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Deer Camp - Day Seven

Critters, Deer Camp, Family, Holidays, Hunting, Smile For The Trail Cam, Terrific Cooking

11/24/11

7:00 PM - Went out after the Packer's thrashing of the Lions and sat until sundown.  A couple of shots from the neighbor's woods and  some crunching in our woods.  Other than that nothing doing.  Haven't seen a deer in two consecutive days.

Today's post is brought to you by Meleagris gallopavo - commonly known as the wild turkey.

This is a bachelor group of gobblers cruising one of the trails.

This is a brood flock  - a hen along with a bunch of poults.

The male of the species is a large bronze-colored bird with a red and blue bald head.  He sports a long beard jutting from the center of the chest and has spurs on his legs.  During the spring mating season males will spar with other males and engage in elaborate courtship displays as they gather their harems. The female is smaller and duller and typically (but not always) lacks a beard.  This is a non-migrating ground-nesting bird.  A bird that works for a living.

Wild turkeys spend most of their time earth-bound - they will walk or run before taking to flight.  One of the few birds that is capable of vertical take-off the turkey can attain airspeeds of up to 60 miles an hour.  It roosts in trees at night.  Coming off their roosts is best described as a controlled crash. 

This is the largest of game birds found in Wisconsin.  Extirpated due to market hunting by the close of the 1800s early attempts to reintroduce the species with farm-raised birds was largely met with failure.  From 1976 to 1985 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released 334 wild-trapped turkeys from Missouri in southern Wisconsin.  Reproduction was enormously successful.  From 1979 to recent years an active in-state trap and release program has resulted in wild birds to be found in all Wisconsin counties. 

The successful reintroduction of the bird has opened a whole new opportunity for spring and fall hunting.  With eyesight said to be three times better than that of humans and endowed with excellent hearing they're a challenge to hunt.

We're cooking our wild bird the old-school way.  Plucked with skin-on, season all over and inside with salt and pepper.  Lard the breast and legs with side pork and roast under a foil tent at 325 degrees - allowing roughly 25 minutes per pound.  Towards the end remove the foil and baste with equal parts of butter and white wine.

Serve with family and all of the usual accompaniments.

Deer Camp Thanksgiving Dressing

Olive oil

2 cups red, seedless grapes - sliced in half

1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage

1 large onion - diced

2 cloves garlic - minced

3 ribs celery - diced

16 oz. bag of bread cubes

2T fresh sage - finely chopped

1/2 cup of fresh parsley - finely chopped

3/4 cup of pecans - chopped

1t kosher salt

1/2t fresh cracked pepper

2 cups of low sodium chicken broth

6T butter - melted

2T Worcestershire sauce

Sauté grapes in some oil until caramelized.  Set aside. In the same pan brown the sausage and set aside leaving the fat in the pan.  Sauté the onions and garlic until translucent, add the celery and continue cooking until celery is just tender.  Melt the butter with the broth and combine all.  Transfer to baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes covered.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.  Can  be made a day in-advance.  Serves ten.

We have much to be thankful for.  Happy thanksgiving everyone!

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