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Issue Date: November 2004 Issue


Fast Lane

Damon Greer, Turkey hunter and assistant wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife

The average American ate 17.4 pounds of turkey last year, according to the National Turkey Federation. We're guessing about 17.2 pounds were eaten at the end of November. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, who better to talk turkey than Damon Greer, assistant wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife and an avid turkey hunter since age 12?

Do turkeys really gobble?

Actually, only male turkeys gobble. It's their mating call.

So then what do the female turkeys do, put on turkey lipstick?

Probably not.

Is it hard to kill a wild turkey?

Absolutely. Turkeys have incredible eyesight and their hearing is phenomenal. You need to be dressed in full camouflage and basically not move at all until you're ready to shoot.

What's the biggest difference between a wild turkey and a Butterball?

Grocery-store turkeys are bred to have more white meat and be served for Thanksgiving. Wild turkeys are, well, -- wild turkeys. They don't taste like what you're used to. They have a much stronger flavor.

How did turkey become the Thanksgiving thing? Why not squirrel?

My best guess is that, back then, it was such an available and plentiful food resource. And then, it just became tradition. Hey, did you know Benjamin Franklin proposed that the wild turkey be named the national bird?

But then they told him to go fly a kite.

Ouch.

Thanks. So describe the turkey-hunting experience.

For me, it's not about getting a turkey. It's about experiencing the sights and sounds of nature — there are things out there most people never hear or see. You almost can't describe it.

Do you have a lucky turkey caller?

The one I use the most is a piece of slate with a little stick you rub across it to trick the turkey into thinking you're a hen.

That's low.

Hey, you've gotta do what you gotta do.

After you catch a turkey, do you want to go to sleep just like after you eat one?

The funny thing is, in the spring, after I hunt for turkey all morning, I do like to take a nap.

When turkey-hunting season is over, do you think turkeys high-five each other and are like, "Phew! We made it!"?

I'm fairly certain wild turkeys don't have a copy of the Ohio Hunting Regulations to know when turkey-hunting season is over.

Where's the secret place you go to find your turkey for Thanksgiving?

Giant Eagle.

Have you ever considered dressing like a Pilgrim when you hunt to truly capture the Thanksgiving experience?

I'm a traditional guy, but not that traditional.


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