Gobble Gobble: Why wild turkey conservation is important year-round

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Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock / NBC 26 at 7

We went on the hunt for a wild turkey this Thanksgiving eve.

Edgefield, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Fried, smoked, or roasted - turkey usually steals the show at Thanksgiving. The bird is native to South Carolina and can be legally hunted in the Spring. Wild turkeys not only taste better but hunting them also helps conserve nature.

News 12's Liz Owens went on a walk through the woods of Edgefield to try to find her guy: Turkey Tom. She learned a little something about wild turkeys in the process.

Pete Muller knows the 700 miles of the wooded area almost as well as he knows turkeys.

"The birds that we have here are native to the state. Just a special thing, in my opinion, being native to North America in general," Muller said.

Headquarters for the National Wild Turkey Federation, or NWTF, sits in Edgefield. South Carolina is home of the wild eastern turkey, one of six subspecies of turkeys in the U.S. And in the spring, hunters come here to stock up for next Thanksgiving.

"Because they are a wild animal constantly running around, they don't provide as much meat off of that."

They're leaner and meaner, and he swears much tastier. Another difference? Every wild bird brings in bucks to the conservation here and across the country.

"It's important for us to take care of wild turkeys wildlife, wild places in general because if we don't they won't be around for the following generations. And what most people don't realize is the majority of state-level funding for conservation efforts comes from the sale of hunting licenses, fishing licenses, and also taxes on firearms and ammunition," Muller explained.

The money goes to places like this to preserve campsites and hiking trails.

NWTF offers classes and hunts for first-time hunters in the spring when turkey season opens. The season runs March through the beginning of May.​

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