Don’t Be A Jailbird

November 10, 2015 by

On June 20, 1782 Federal lawmakers approve the Seal of the United States, depicting the bald eagle. It’s well known that not all of those involved in the process were happy: Benjamin Franklin is noted as having a preference that the seal portray a more naturally American bird such as the wild turkey saying it was a “bird of courage…would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.” Which, I guess, what else can you ask from a bird?

However it went down, now we eat turkeys on Thanksgiving, and it’s illegal to do pretty much anything to a bald eagle anywhere in the United States. Especially killing them. Even the gathering of feathers from naturally dead carcasses is prohibited in an attempt to prevent individuals from disturbing their natural habitats and life-cycles. This remains true in Canada as well, as part of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, though certain groups such as Native Americans can apply for special usage permits or educational or ceremonial purposes.

Thankfully, turkey hunting hasn’t gone anywhere. And even though the spring time months are the most popular time to bag a bird, there’s a vibrant fall season to shake your gun at too. There’s even still plenty of time to get your own bird before Thanksgiving; imagine the satisfaction of sharing with your loved ones something you downed yourself rather than a mass-produced Butterball. You should probably still call the hotline if you need help cooking it.

As for where you’ll want to actually go hunting, if you live anywhere in the United States other than Alaska, you should have turkeys somewhat nearby. Populations are obviously more dense in areas where there are more woodlands: Missouri, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New York typically rank in the top five states fur turkey hunting annually. So it may be worth your time to plan an out-of-state hunting weekend. Double check your local state regulations, but typically fall seasons run from early October to late November.

As more and more areas become inhabited by humans, turkey populations do level off, making things more difficult. While they are certainly nowhere near the endangered species list, populations in some Midwest states have begun to level off.

It’s also important to understand what the local firearm regulations are for your area. While the majority of hunters will use a shotgun loaded with (you guessed it), bird shot, some do prefer to use a lower powered rifle if state laws allow it. You’ll also need to purchase licenses (also known as tags) for each bird you plan on killing. Like everything else, the total number of birds you are allowed to take varies from state to state, and also year to year.

Above all, be safe. Ensure that you are properly clothed so other hunters can see you, and that all your firearms are in a state of good, safe repair. Don’t ever mix alcohol and firearms. Now get out there and bag a bird for the table!

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