Suggestions for Preparing Your Spring Turkey

February 24th, 2017
Roasted Wild Turkey Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Roasted Wild Turkey Recipe photo by Taste of Home

This is Passport to Texas

If you harvest a wild turkey, you can find techniques for preparing it from online experts who are hunters and chefs. A wild turkey has a rich flavor—some say gamey—and is quite lean, which makes it a little tricky to prepare.

Steve Rinella, the outdoorsman known as The Meat Eater, recommends brining wild harvested turkeys to keep them juicy.

Fill a large pot—one big enough to hold the turkey and brine—with a gallon of water. Next add 1 cup of Kosher Salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, the juice of three lemons, and a sliced onion. Heat the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let cool, and then submerge the bird in the brine and allow it to soak for 24 to 48 hours in the fridge.

Remove it from the brine, blot the moisture from the bird with paper towels, and then place it in a shallow baking dish on top of a rack, or on a bed of root vegetables. Rub the turkey with oil, and sprinkle it inside and out with your favorite seasonings.

Place it into an oven, preheated to 375 degrees. Roast the bird until an instant read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let the turkey rest at least 10 minutes before carving.

Steve Rinella says a hunting license should say “all hunters must brine their turkeys before cooking them—no matter the cooking method.” I say that’s a good idea.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Spring Turkey Bag Limits

February 23rd, 2017
Imagine seeing this sight when you go turkey hunting this spring.

Imagine seeing this sight when you go turkey hunting this spring.

This is Passport to Texas

Eastern wild turkeys thrived from the coastal prairies to the Red River until the early 1900s when commercial hunting and development drove the birds to near extinction. Hunting these birds was off limits until years of restocking efforts created a huntable population.

We’ve spent a lot of time stocking birds into East Texas. We’ve had some really good success in some areas, and not as much success in others. So, we don’t have the densities that we have of Rio Grande…and we’re trying to keep a real good record of what’s happening with that population.

Jason Hardin, Turkey program leader for Parks and Wildlife, says Rio Grande turkeys, found in most of the state are plentiful; this spring, hunters have a four bird bag limit.

The bag limit is one for the Eastern Turkey, and it must be reported on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s My Hunt Harvest app for smart phones or online at Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Wild Turkey Page. Physical check stations for Eastern wild turkeys are no longer open in Texas.

The data helps Parks and Wildlife manage the species. Need a place to hunt the Eastern gobbler?

Some of our WMAs provide good Eastern turkey hunting as well.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series; it’s funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Spring is Turkey Time in Texas

February 22nd, 2017
A fine Tom turkey in Texas.

A fine Tom turkey in Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

Thanksgiving may be three months behind us—or nine months ahead of us depending upon how you view things—but that won’t stop turkey hunters from bagging big birds this spring.

There are going to be a lot of two-year-old gobblers for harvest this year.

Jason Hardin is Turkey Program Leader for Parks and Wildlife. Adequate rainfall statewide and excellent habitat conditions overall, add up to a good season ahead.

We had really good production across the Rio Grande range, which is the central portion of the state, so I would expect a really good season.

In addition to hunting Rio Grande Turkeys in Texas brush country, hunters can also find Eastern Turkey in the woodlands of East Texas.

The eastern is found in the eastern third of the state. It’s a little bit of a larger, darker colored, bird compared to the Rio, which is quite numerous. We have more Rios in Texas than anywhere else in the country. The bird’s a little bit smaller and has a little lighter coloration. But, other than that, they gobble fairly similarly and they’re both pretty tough to hunt.

There is a statewide bag limit of four turkeys in Texas with no more than one Eastern Turkey.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series; it’s funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Assisted Living: Attwater’s Prairie Chickens

February 21st, 2017
Baby Attwater's Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

Baby Attwater’s Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

This is Passport to Texas

We all need help sometimes. And in the case of the endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, they’re getting it in the form of captive breeding programs, including one at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose.

Adding birds from the captive breeding program has allowed us to keep birds in the wild. Without the captive breeding program this species, undoubtedly, would have been extinct by now.

Biologists estimate there are fewer than 100 Attwater’s Prairie Chickens in existence today. Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. The juvenile prairie chickens at Fossil rim are color banded and radio collared in preparation for release onto the refuge.

How many other species can we watch go extinct, before it starts making a difference the ability of the world to support us as a human species.

Juvenile birds take a long ride to the refuge and are kept in an outdoor enclosure until they’ve acclimated to their new habitat. After two weeks in their pen, they’re released onto the refuge.

Biologist Morrow says he knows not all the birds they release will survive, but those that do, represent the future. He says Texas Parks and Wildlife and partners will continue to build the population with wild birds. And that’s where he says we place the hope for the recovery of the species.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Most Endangered Bird in North America

February 20th, 2017
Attwater's Prairie Chicken

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

This is Passport to Texas

The most endangered bird in North America is a chicken. No, it’s not your ordinary farmyard fowl. It’s the extraordinary Attwater’s Prairie Chicken—a species unique to Texas coastal prairies. Yet, over the past two decades fewer than 100 individuals have been reported in the wild.

For a species that only lives on average two years—that’s a very bad place to be.

Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. He works with biologist Rebecca Chisholm.

You know, they’re [prairie chickens] an endangered species all over the rest of the country and the world. But this one here, lives only in Texas.

The birds are part of our natural heritage. At the refuge, Morrow and Chisholm work together to give the Prairie Chicken a chance at survival, which includes building predator deterrent fences around nest sites.

The idea of this predator deterrent fence Is to deflect predators away from the nest area so that hopefully they won’t find the nest and destroy it.

The fence doubles the chance of survival for the hens and chicks. And when there are fewer than 100 members in a population, you take those odds.

Working with—arguably the most endangered bird in North America—has its ups and downs. I mean, sometimes, it’s a little bit disappointing. Things don’t go quite as well as you want, but it’s also rewarding when things do. So I think everyone would agree that it’s worth it.

Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.