© 2023 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Fowl Legacy Of Oregon's Wild Gobblers

Brian Bull
Brian Bull

Thanksgiving usually means turkey.  But as families feast on big Butterballs from the grocery store, they might be watched from afar, by the main entrée’s freer, wilder cousins.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Credit Brian Bull
Wild turkeys on the prowl in Eugene.

On a street outside Eugene, a wild turkey wanders about, chirping…perhaps calling out to its flock. 

Brian Wolfer of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s one of many sounds the birds make.

Credit Brian Bull / Brian Bull
Brian Bull
Brian Wolfer, wildlife biologist with the ODFW's Springfield office.

“In the spring is when you hear more of the gobbling," begins Wolfer.  "That’s when the males are taking to the hens, and they’re talking to the other gobblers to show off who’s the biggest and toughest.” 

The turkey itself is a transplant from the southern and eastern parts of the U.S.  they were introduced across Oregon several times in the past century…more recently in the 70s.

There is a hunting season, but don’t expect them to be like the bulkier, store-bought birds which are essentially raised on reverse fat-camps…where plumpness is priority.

“The domestic turkeys…the whole turkey’s kinda encased in fat. And that makes it easier to cook.  But the wild bird actually flies, uses its legs a whole lot more, so the dark meat is much darker. But without all the fat, a person has to take care to be sure they stay moist.”  

Credit Flickr.com's Brian Black
Roast turkey.

And wild turkeys can be a bit gamier…though anything’s more palatable with gravy and yams.  

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Related Content