While most people seem to anticipate the big game hunts in the fall, I get most excited for the spring wild turkey hunt. Every year I submit an application for the limited-entry turkey hunt in the southeast region. I don’t usually draw the tag, but I get more anxious when the email announcing the draw results hits my inbox than I do for the big game draw results.
I’m not quite sure why I consider turkey my main hunt of the year, but I think it has more to do with the timing of the season than anything else. I once read an article by a psychiatrist explaining that depression rates are highest in February: The distractions of the holiday season have long passed and settled, the days still don’t feel long enough even though daylight hours are getting longer, and spring, with its promises of warmth and sunshine, is still out of arm’s reach.
The spring turkey season gives me something to look forward to when the winter doldrums try to grab me. Even if that email says the draw result was “unsuccessful,” like it did this year, I still look forward to the spring season—the limited entry turkey tag just offers the opportunity to hunt with a limited number of people a few weeks before the general season. You also get the added benefit of the tom turkeys gobbling and dancing for the females, so if you are a turkey hunter who enjoys calling turkeys, the limited-entry hunt is worth applying for.
If you get rejected for the limited entry hunt, don’t feel dejected. The general season tags are sold over the counter and you get to hunt the entire month of May. If you happen to get lucky enough to harvest a wild turkey, I would suggest using one of the legs to make these birria tacos!
Turkey leg, birria style
1 turkey leg, on the bone
3 dried chili peppers, such as ancho or guajillo
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
3 whole tomatoes or one 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
5 whole cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
5 to 6 whole cloves
Quart of stock
Corn tortilla shells
Other optional toppings: diced green or white onions, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, pico de gallo
- Boil dried peppers in a medium saucepan of water for 10 minutes
- Once peppers are softened, cut the tops off and remove seeds
- Add peppers, can of chipotles in adobo sauce, vinegar, garlic cloves, oregano, cumin, paprika, and tomatoes to the food processor and process until smooth
- Place wild turkey leg in a bowl, add the marinade and refrigerate for at least four hours (overnight is best)
Consomme; taco assembling
- You’ll make a consomme stew for the wild turkey meat to cook in: to an instant pot, add one large diced onion, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, and the quart of stock. Then add the wild turkey leg and any remaining marinade.
- Set on high pressure for one hour. Make sure the pressure release valve is closed!
- Remove the leg from the pot and shred. Discard the bone, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.
- Remove about 2/3 of the consomme from the pot and put in a bowl. Return the shredded turkey meat to the pot to keep warm.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat on the stove.
- Dip the corn tortilla shells in the consomme and then place in hot skillet.
- Add layer of queso fresco cheese to each tortilla and a heaping spoonful of meat on half the tortilla. Cook for one minute.
- Fold the tortilla in half and cook for thirty more seconds. Flip and cook a final thirty seconds.
- To serve, add toppings of your choice to tacos and serve with a side of consomme for dunking the tacos.
Lindsey Bartosh, an eighth-generation Moab girl, loves hiking, hunting, fishing, cooking, writing, photography and working on her website www.huntingandcooking.com.