Can you eat wild turkeys?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Can you eat wild turkeys?” Also, we’ll explore the differences between wild and farmed turkeys, where you can hunt wild turkeys, what the nutritional content of wild turkey is, and what are the benefits of eating wild turkey. 

Can you eat wild turkeys? 

Yes, game meat sourced from wild turkeys is edible. Not unlike other types of fowl, both wild and domesticated, wild turkey breasts, thighs, legs, and if it strikes your fancy, giblets, are edible.

Wild turkey meat may differ slightly in flavor from the farm turkeys, due to the differences in diet. Farm turkeys are supplied with a balanced diet that often consists of grain fiber and additional sources of fat proteins and microelements, whereas wild turkeys forage for their food and their meat has a more “gamey,” wild taste.

It’s tradition for some families to hunt their Thanksgiving turkey (well in advance of the holiday), rather than procured from stores or farms. 

In the US, depending on the state in which you wish to hunt, you must procure a hunting license and tags, which may have different seasonal periods per the exploitable population and their activities. 

Some states have no huntable populations to speak of and you may find yourself traveling out-of-state bounds to hunt wild turkey. 

We advise our readers to always pay close attention to their state guidelines and avoid infringement of the law, which would be the case if they were to hunt off-season and engage in poaching.

What are the differences between wild and farmed turkeys? 

Other than the fact that the former forage and live off the land, the differences between farmed and wild turkeys include:

Their coloring – wild turkeys tend to have dark feathers in varying shades of brown and black possible specs of silver. Farm turkeys can be white which for obvious reasons will put them at a severe disadvantage in a wild habitat.

Their instincts are different– wild turkeys rely on their instinct to survive in the wild, as such they bone their senses and tend to be more aggressive when confronted with potential predators. Farm turkeys on the other hand are conditioned to live within an enclosure and have their needs tended to regularly. 

It goes without mentioning that farmed turkeys would be unlikely to thrive in the wild, despite their release into the wild being strictly forbidden by some states. 

Their diet– wild turkeys forage for their food which consists of seasonal leafy greens, fallen fruits (fleshy and dry) on the forest floor and shrubs, and invertebrates. Their diet is mostly based on the resources at hand which are contingent on the season of the year and their environment. 

Farm turkeys have their diet regularly supplied to them and their food often consists of greens pasture, sources of starch, fat, protein, and possibly synthetic formulations designed to supplement their nutritional needs.

Additionally, farmed turkeys may be supplied with substances such as hormones and antibiotics that can confer a characteristic “unnatural” taste to the meat. 

Where can I hunt wild turkeys? 

Wild turkeys can be hunted in many parts of the world, not just their native American continent. 

They were ferries across the ocean to the European continent in the seventeenth century and can be found in Britain, Spain, Italy, and many other countries. 

On the American continent, they can be hunted in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. It bears mention that wild turkeys are so widely distributed throughout America, that they can even be found in the island state of Hawaii.

Each country, state, and territory has its exploitable population and by extension, its regulations regarding wild turkey season, the number of licenses issued, and guidelines. 

If you’re keen on hunting wild turkey, we advise you to consult your local agencies and legislatures to find out what rules and guidelines are in place, or those of the state in which you wish to hunt. 

What is the nutritional content of wild turkey?

On average, a 100-gram portion of wild turkey meat may provide

  • 109 calories
  • 25 grams of protein
  • 1.1 grams of fat – of which 0.13 grams are saturated fat, 0.11 grams are monounsaturated, and 0.1 grams are polyunsaturated
  • 48 milligrams of cholesterol
  • 67 milligrams of sodium
  • 265 milligrams of potassium

What are the benefits of eating wild turkey?

Wild turkey meat can provide benefits when stacked up against other types of meat. It is preferable to processed turkey meats

Wild turkey meat is low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Also, it contains a high amount of protein, potassium, and trace amounts of other minerals. 

If you prefer meat that isn’t “enriched” with hormones and antibiotics, you’ll benefit from eating wild turkey. 

Wild turkey meat can be ingested by those who are contraindicated to consuming red meat, as it is lean meat with no preservatives. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the query: “Can you eat wild turkeys?” Also, we’ve explored the differences between wild and farmed turkeys, where you can hunt wild turkeys, what the nutritional content of wild turkey is, and what are the benefits of eating wild turkey.

References 

https://www.nwtf.org/hunt/article/2022-spring-hunt-guide

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turkey#salt-content

https://www.dnr.sc.gov/news/2020/nov/nov24-wildturkey.php#:~:text=Wild%20Turkeys%20have%20the%20deep,less%20noticeable%20on%20the%20carcass.

https://www.southernstates.com/farm-store/articles/attracting-wild-turkeys#:~:text=Preferred%20foods%20of%20wild%20turkeys,%2C%20berries%2C%20seeds%20and%20insects.

https://birdwatchingpro.com/can-you-eat-wild-turkey/#:~:text=You%20can%20eat%20almost%20every,liver%2C%20heart%2C%20and%20gizzards.

https://www.pennlive.com/pa-sportsman/2015/11/does_wild_turkey_taste_like_yo.html

https://projectupland.com/wild-game-recipes/game-meat-profile-wild-turkey/

https://www.thespruce.com/what-do-turkeys-eat-386553

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