By Aaron Farley

I never went to culinary school, and I definitely don’t consider myself a chef or even a cook. However, when it comes to smoking meat – I can kick some Boston butts! Why does this matter? Let me explain.

First off, Wired To Hunt is obviously focused on whitetails, but I wanted to throw a curveball your way today and encourage you to remember the opportunities that abound outside of deer season!

Turkey hunting season is just getting started or will be soon across much of the country, and with that comes a familiar cocktail of excitement and pressure. I am a hunter. I have never considered myself just a “deer hunter”, “buck hunter”, or “turkey hunter”. To me, hunting is a way of life, and I plan to be hunting whatever is in season at that time. I guess that would make me a “season hunter”. If I am in the woods trying to find a nice deer, and a fat rabbit comes across my path, or a nice hog comes through, well then that becomes what I’m hunting that day. It is more about the experience and the table fare for me when I enter the woods, and I often carry more than one type of weapon in the woods for when such an opportunity presents itself.

However with turkey season, there is not only the goal of getting some premium choice white meat (wild turkey is easily my favorite meal), there is also the pressure of preparing for a big party my wife and I plan to throw in celebration of the first turkey of the year!

When I strike out into the snake infested spring foliage here in Georgia, I’m not only on a quest for a prized thunder-chicken, I’m looking for a great story to tell my family and friends while we bask in the aroma of a turkey filled smoker in my backyard.

We call it, “Huntsgiving.” It is a Thannksgiving-like feast we held last year after I got my first turkey with a bow and my wife and I decided to make it a family tradition. We now plan to throw one every spring. That said here are just a few reasons we love Huntsgiving, and why maybe you should consider taking to the field in search of a Huntsgiving bird of your own!

1. The Anticipation.

Of course there is great excitement and anticipation when it comes to the actual task of hunting turkeys. But there is also a certain fun anticipation to the last minute party we intend to throw every spring. We have a guest list of close friends and family who have been notified: Be prepared for the sudden invite, usually no more than 2-3 days notice. There is a small window for fresh, wild turkey to be smoked and served to my drooling friends and kinfolk. If I kill one on a Saturday, there are usually no hopes of it lasting until the next weekend and we rush for a Sunday afternoon, next-day party. The best case scenario is to get a day off, kill one on a Thursday or Friday hunt, and host the shindig on a Saturday. All of the schedule problems just add to the fun and excitement of  the event!

2. The Gourmet.

Once I’ve got a love-burned gobbler thrown across my shoulder, and a soon to be exaggerated story in my quiver, I’ll get to work prepping for what is fast becoming my favorite event of the year – our smoked spring turkey party. I’ll be the first to tell you that my smoked wild turkey is my very favorite meal of all time; that’s the unbiased and unashamed truth. As a matter of fact, many of our family and friends share in this sentiment. There is an unbelievable satisfaction and glory that comes from knowing that the best tasting morsel to ever dawn the lips of your loved ones was prepared in the cheap black box smoker in my backyard. I would love to take credit for a recipe, but 90% of the outcome is due to the quality of wild turkey meat.

I would challenge anyone who hunts but doesn’t hunt turkey, or who doesn’t cook their birds whole, to make the most of their turkey seasons this year. There is nothing like a thanksgiving type feast in April, and you cannot get that effect with breast filets. A little extra time spent plucking is worth it 5 times over when you pull that juicy butterball out of the smoke box or oven.

3. The Giving.

There are few things I find as rewarding as sharing my hunting bounty with loved ones. There are selfish reasons that can motivate me to share, like the warm-fuzzy emotion that comes when you give something away or the “kiss the cook” type praises from friends. But beyond the personal gratification that comes with sharing this experience, lies a far greater benefit for hunting (and hunters) in general. Parties like our Huntsgiving are probably the best way to introduce non-hunters and even anti-hunters to the hunting lifestyle. It is a non-confrontational way to show the honesty of procuring one’s own meat and to celebrate the gifts we have available to us in the great outdoors. The more generous I am, and the more I give, the more I seem to receive in return.

Now, when are you going to plan your Huntsgiving? A fresh wild turkey is the perfect place to start. The tender white meat of a turkey is a great first time dish for the non-hunter who has not developed a taste for venison and game meat. I tell you all of this in the hopes that some of you would share your bounty in a similar way and introduce some of your non-hunting friends to the spoils of the hunt. Few things in this life are as pleasurable to me as that time in April when my friends and family gather around a delicious turkey feast! Turkey seasons are getting underway all across the country right now, and there’s no excuse – get out there, and make your own Huntsgiving traditions!

– Aaron Farley,