Gobbling up turkeys is not just about filling your tag. Turkeys are also great to eat. When we go on our annual turkey trip to eastern Montana, harvested turkeys rarely return home. They end up on the menu!
Once a spring turkey is in the bag, we skin the bird and separate the breasts and legs. If you have a big enough Dutch Oven, you can also leave the bird whole. We also save the tail intact, and other feathers that serve as materials for fly tying or other decorative purposes. The legs and spurs also end up as necklaces or decorations. Nothing goes to waste.
Remember if you transport the bird, you must leave proof of sex attached on the bird. This means a spurred leg. Our turkeys are transported back to camp and onto the dinner table.
Once your campfire has plenty of coals, use a shovel to dig a 2-foot hole next to your fire. The hole needs to be wide enough to allow 2 inches of clearance on all sides.
Once the turkey is cleaned and rinsed, rub the skin with olive oil, salt, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Stuff the turkey’s cavity with your favorite stuffing, fruit, garlic or whatever you enjoy. You do not have to stuff the bird.
Place the turkey in your Dutch Oven. If you do not have a big baking pot, wrap the seasoned bird in cheese cloth or a pillow case. Then add 3-4 layers of aluminum foil.
Use the shovel to cover the bottom of the hole with a layer of coals, then surround the bird with about 2 inches of coals. Now cover the coal covered bird with dirt!
Allow the bird to roast at least 3 hours. Most Jake’s clean up and weigh around 12 lbs. Add another half hour for every additional 4 lbs. When it is time, dig up your meal and start enjoying your fresh baked Spring Gobbler!
You can also place potatoes, wrapped in thick mud onto the coals. When the mud is hard, after 30-40 minutes, break it off for a perfect baked tate!
Camp cooking is fun!
For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.