A shared spring: bear and turkey hunters

Most turkey hunters are alike in that we define the spring months through our hallowed pursuit of our favorite game bird. Maybe it’s because turkey hunting is hands down one of the most thrilling pursuits anyone can have. But, I believe a contributing factor is there are no other options for spring hunting in many of our states.

However, that is not the case for all hunters across the country. In limited states in the Rocky Mountain region, and also the Pacific Northwest, there are a good number of spring hunters who consider themselves bear hunters first, and possibly turkey hunters second.

Obviously, the quarry itself is drastically different, but the spring pursuits are similar in more ways than one might think. While spending time with friends at Obsessed Outdoors this past spring, here are a few of the ways in which we realized bear and turkey hunters are the same beyond just being hunters. 

Support conservation – through the sheer act of buying hunting licenses, as well as firearms, ammo or archery equipment, both turkey and bear hunters are supporting state-level conservation efforts. But beyond that, hunters strive for responsible game management.

Bear hunters strive to shoot boars, many times passing over sows, in search of a mature animal. Turkey hunters may prefer two-year-old or older gobblers over jakes, or hens in states where allowed.

However, the bottom line is both turkey and bear hunters are invested, financially and emotionally, in the future of the animals they pursue. Hunters believe wildlife belongs to everyone and should be around for generations to come.

Provide clean food – Whether your spring pursuits put bear or turkey on the table, providing healthy meat is a driving force for many hunters. I’d venture to say it is a common misconception that bear meat is not fine table fare. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bear meat typically needs to reach temps of 165 degress – well done – to ensure the meat is free of potentially harmful parasites, such as trichinosis. The red meat works very well for braising, stew meat, sausages and other cuisine where the meat is cooked low and slow.

When it comes to wild turkey, it is no secret the breast meat is suitable nuggets, poppers, smoking and slicing and so much more. Similar to bear meat, many hunters don’t know the versatility of the bird’s leg meat. It also typically requires longer cook times simply to make the meat most tender, but wild turkey leg meat is also great when run through a grinder and is a wonderful substitute in any dish that would otherwise require ground beef.

Adventures best shared with family and friends – Not all bear- and turkey-hunting adventures are created equally, but I am a strong advocate for hunting and sharing outdoor pursuits with others, especially new hunters. There is no doubt that turkey hunting is probably a better gateway in to hunting simply because turkeys number well more than 6 million and you can hunt them in 49 states each spring, but both bear and turkey hunting can lend themselves to hunting as a group.

Bear hunting, especially when spot and stalk hunting, requires a great amount of patience. Lots of time is spent behind binos or spotters or simply just waiting for a bear to show up. The extra set of eyes can more quickly help identify a potential target, and the conversations and laughs shared over the course of a day easily help fill the downtime. Additionally, when game finally is spotted, everyone can be a part of the pure adrenaline rush and excitement of putting a stalk on a bear.

As for turkey hunting, the sound of a thundering gobble on the roost is sure to send shivers down the spine and induce excitement in any hunters, especially when you can look at your hunting buddies and you all know there is a high likelihood that tom will cruise your setup after flydown. Nevertheless, hunting from a blind or posting up at the base of trees in close proximity to each other, turkey hunting is a pursuit easily enjoyed by multiple individuals.

If you are a spring turkey hunter, you may never chase spring bears, and vice versa, but I think one of the biggest keys to securing the future of hunting is realizing that despite our differences, we all identify as hunters.

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