Spring Turkey

Well, Spring Turkey season is coming up in just under two months here in Maryland. I’ve never been a big fan of turkey in general, probably because my only experience was from the deli or the yearly Thanksgiving bird that was usually dry. This past Thanksgiving I did a bacon wrapped turkey breast from the local butcher shop and it changed my mind on turkey. So this year I’m going to go try to get two for the season.

Since my land doesn’t have any signs of turkeys (I’m sure they pass through every so often), I need to go somewhere else to hunt. I considered a guided hunt since I’ve never hunted turkey before, then I got a quote of $360 for a half day hunt. If I get a 20 pound turkey that works out to $18 per pound, not including ammo and gas. So naturally I’m not going that route. Instead I’m going to be hunting at Tuckahoe State Park for the first time, which is likely where I’ll also be deer hunting this fall.

Tuckahoe has the benefit of being in both Queen Anne’s and Caroline counties. That means if I’m on the Queen Anne’s side I can hunt in the regular deer firearms season with a shotgun or straight-walled cartridge rifle and if I go into the Caroline county side I can hunt with bottleneck rifles. I need to do more research on the straight-walled cartridge requirements, but there is plenty of time before deer season.

I need to buy a new shotgun for turkey season since I gave my brother my only hunting shotgun. All I have a the moment is a 7 round 870 which would require swapping in a 28″ barrel and putting a dowel in the magazine tube to limit it to 2+1. I have the barrel and the dowel isn’t a problem at all, but I might as well get a turkey gun right?

I’m leaning towards a Henry single shot shotgun. I know some people don’t like anything other than a semi-auto and others swear by pump-actions. I just really like my single shot .357 Magnum rifle from Henry and I’ve watched a bunch of videos of people hunting turkeys with the single shot 20 gauge and 410. I am leaning towards their new turkey camo 12 gauge, but the blued receiver models would work just fine (though require buying a turkey choke). I’ve been a 12 gauge guy when it comes to shotguns, but 20 gauge or 410 pack enough shot into their turkey loads to do the job with less recoil.

It’s going to end up coming down to what I can find in stock and what I can find ammo wise. The 12 gauge has the benefit of letting me shoot any of the ammo I already have in addition to turkey shot (including the box of Federal shorty shells I bought on a whim), but if I’m getting a dedicated turkey/hunting gun, I’m probably going to use it at most a few times per year and not take it to the range all that often otherwise.

I found a great video on how to skin and process a turkey from the New Hampshire Fish & Game (below) that I’ll be following for any turkeys taken this year. I’m not a roast the whole bird kind of guy (refer back to Thanksgiving) so the skin doesn’t matter to me and I can more easily store the individual breasts, legs, and thighs. There’s no fall season in my area of the state and I don’t see myself driving halfway across the state for a single turkey in the season. So I need to get my limit this Spring if I want wild turkey for this coming Thanksgiving. We do have a Winter season with a one turkey limit that I’ll be hunting next year.