Thanksgiving dinner: venison or turkey?

Looking to take a break from hunting deer?

Wisconsin’s wild turkey season remains open during the gun deer season, and beyond, closing Jan. 5, 2020 in zones 1-5. The other turkey hunting zones, 6 and 7, closed Nov. 22.

Tales of a first Thanksgiving often mentioned venison and wild turkey meat being prepared. Both animal species were certainly abundant then as now.

With the proper license, authorization, stamp, gun, or bow, deer hunters, and others, can pursue turkeys, but NOT with a rifle. Of course, blaze orange clothing also must be worn.

All turkeys are legal game during fall with a turkey hunting license, stamp and authorization.   

Archers, crossbowers, and gun deer hunters often comment on seeing turkeys and other game, particularly from a tree stand or while stump sitting. Taking away that hunter’s rifle and providing a shotgun, heavy shot, turkey license and authorizations most hunters would be good to go. Maybe a few turkey calls, if wanted, too.  

Fall turkey hunting is somewhat different than the spring season. Both males and females are legal birds. Young and older turkeys are legal, too. In many zones additional authorizations can be purchased, even now. Additional meat might be handy if there is a large gathering coming across the river and through the woods.

Large groups of turkeys are called rafts, or rafters. Deer come in herds, elk in gangs.

Like venison, sometimes the young birds are better eating than the large, old toms or mature hens.  

Calling works, sometimes. Decoying might, too. But a tried-and-true, sit-and-wait method is what got us to this point of considering turkey hunting in the first place.

The worst thing that may happen is a deer would walk past the hunting blind or stand and you’ll be anxious to get back to deer hunting.

Season Snippet: Backtags were required while hunting deer started in 1942 and discontinued in 2015. In 1967, turkey hunting backtags were issued as part of the turkey hunting license packet.

Jerry Davis writes daily DeerTrails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season.  This is the eighth column.  You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.