Recipe: Tracy’s Two-Day Turkey Leg Soup

By Tracy L. Schmidt

Don’t throw away those turkey drumsticks!

This turkey leg soup recipe is a perfect fix for leftover turkey meat

This turkey leg soup goes great with a grilled cheese sandwich. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

I can still remember the first time my husband handed me a pair of turkey legs. Those drumsticks were huge — big enough for a meal in themselves. I don’t think I said it out loud, but I certainly thought, “What in the world am I supposed to do with these?”

It was a stressful moment, trying to figure out whether to debone them and marinate the meat for sandwiches or prep them for the soup pot. I decided I needed more time to figure things out so I roasted them in my slow cooker.

When you successfully hunt an animal you don’t want anything to go to waste. Out of respect for the animal’s sacrifice, I want to utilize every part possible. But not everything is instantly palatable.

This turkey hunter knows exactly how to utilize every part of the animal

My husband, Dan, brining me home some more turkey legs. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Think about this — wild turkeys make their living with their legs. They almost always opt to run rather than fly, and when they fly those muscular legs launch them with power. That’s one reason why, when compared to domestic fowl, wild turkey leg meat is much more firm. So, whether serving it in a soup or in a sandwich, make sure you cut it up into smaller bite-sized pieces that people can easily chew.

Prepared properly, turkey legs make excellent table fare. It cannot be rushed in the kitchen, however. That’s why I like to turn our turkey legs into soup. The slow cooking process of making soup helps break down the muscle groups and bring out the turkey’s unique flavor and texture. I like to use a two-step process that allows the meat to cook slowly so it becomes its most tender before it becomes part of a great pot of soup. Spread the process out over a couple of days, and it’s easy to make.

Tracy’s Two-Day Turkey Leg Soup

2 legs wild turkey, cleaned
Salt
Pepper
Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
32 ounce box of chicken broth
2 carrots, sliced thinly or 3/4 cup snapped green beans
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
Extra-wide egg noodles

Day One:

Season turkey legs with salt, pepper, paprika and one teaspoon of thyme, then place in slow cooker. Add 12 ounces of chicken broth to cooker and cook for 4 hours on low heat or until they are cooked through and the meat is tender and loose on the bones. Because we are dealing with wild game, the size of the legs will be variable, so the cooking time will vary as well.

Seasoned turkey legs ready to cook

Season the turkey legs after placing them in the slow cooker. Include the drumsticks and the thighs. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

I allow the meat to cool, cut it into bite-sized pieces, then store it in the fridge for the next day when I make the soup. If you want, you can go right to Day Two.

Day Two:

Place the remaining broth plus 2 cups of water in a large stockpot. Add the carrots or beans, onion and garlic and bring to a boil. Add the cooked turkey, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and corn to the pot, cover loosely and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add 1/3 bag of egg noodles and cook uncovered to manufacturer’s recommendation for al dente (firmness of the noodles to the bite).

Cooked turkey meat pulled from the bone

This is a bowl of cooked turkey meat removed from the bone. Make sure to cut the meat down to bite-sized pieces so it is easy to chew. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Check to make sure the carrots are done. Before serving, taste to see if you need any additional seasoning.


About Tracy L. Schmidt:

Tracy Schmidt headhsotTracy L. Schmidt is a certified master food preservation specialist and the author of the book “Venison Wisdom.” Each of her recipes is tested and perfected. She is married to Daniel Schmidt, editor in chief of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine and host of “Deer & Deer Hunting TV” on NBC Sports. Tracy enjoys the versatility of Havalon Knives in both the kitchen and the field.


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Steve Sorensen Wins Five Writer Awards

Sorensen wins a total of five awards from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association

Steve Sorensen, at right, with Brad Isles, chairman of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association Awards Committee. Sorensen won two first place awards, including “Best Book Award” for his book “Growing Up With Guns.”

Outdoor writer and Havalon Post editor Steve Sorensen took home five awards from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association awards banquet May 16, held at the beautiful Seven Springs Mountain Resort in the mountains of Somerset County, PA.

  1. First Place, Best Book Award (sponsored by POWA) for “Growing Up With Guns.”
  2. First Place, Handloading Promotion Award for Electronic Media (sponsored by Redding Reloading) for an article published in Deer Hunters Online.
  3. First Runner-Up, Best Newspaper Column (sponsored by Pennsylvania Hunters Sharing the Harvest) for a column published in the Forest Press and the Olean Times Herald.
  4. First Runner-Up, Best Magazine or Regional Newspaper Column (sponsored by Gogal Publishing Co.) for “The Arthur Young Buck” published in Ohio Valley Outdoors.
  5. First Runner-Up, Youth and the Hunting/Shooting Sports Award (sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation) for “This is more fun than golf,” a column published in the Forest Press and the Olean Times Herald.

Sorensen’s award-winning book “Growing Up With Guns” is about how to think about hunting. It covers the role of hunters and guns in making wildlife abundant through the North American model of wildlife conservation.

Sorensen is a contributor to several national magazines and is editor of the Havalon Sportsman’s Post from Havalon Knives. His newspaper column, “The Everyday Hunter®,” appears in the Forest Press and the Olean Times Herald. He also speaks frequently at church-sponsored sportsman’s banquets.

Previously Sorensen won “Best Newspaper Column” three times from POWA, and in March 2015 he won the national “Pinnacle Award” from the Professional Outdoor Media Association.

Sorensen lives in Russell, PA with his wife Barbara, and miniature groundhog dog Remy. For more information about Steve, his writing and his speaking, go to www.EverydayHunter.com. For information about POWA, go to www.PAOutdoorWriters.com.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Steve Sorensen, Cell (814) 688-2044
E-Mail: EverydayHunter@gmail.com


Pick up your copy of Steve’s award-winning
book “Growing Up With Guns” from the
Havalon website today!

Steve Sorensen Growing Up With Guns front cover

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8 Hotspots for Better Spring Crappie Fishing

By Keith Sutton

Where are all the May crappies? You’ll find
them with our expert’s advice!

Follow spring crappie patterns like looking around isolated stumps

Isolated stumps should rate high on every crappie angler’s list of prime May fishing hotspots. (Photo: Keith Sutton)

Flexibility — it’s the key to many things. Did you know it’s the key to fishing for spring crappies? If you’re willing to try different baits, various depths and an assortment of presentations, you’ll find May crappies. In other words, look for their patterns.

When it comes to spring crappie patterns, you may need to fish several locales with different cover and structure. Crappies are often nomadic this time of year — deep one day and shallow the next. The morning hours may find them in dense cover, and by afternoon, they’re chasing baitfish in open water. Understanding their habits can lead to success, but only for the angler who is willing to move until he finds fish.

Here are eight areas that rank high on the list of May crappie cover.

1. Flooded willows

When fishing big rivers and their backwaters, you’ll often find crappies holding around inundated willow trees. Drift by in your boat and fish the outermost willows first. Then pull your craft into the interior and work other portions of the willow stand. Sometimes, on natural lakes where overflows raise the water level, you’ll find long rows of flooded willows. Don’t miss these high traffic areas.

2. Isolated stumps

You’ll rarely go wrong working a jig or minnow around stumps or other structure isolated from other cover. If you find an area with lots of widely scattered stumps, all the better. Quietly use a paddle or your trolling motor to move from one stump to another, fishing each thoroughly on all sides. On sunny days, target the shady side first.

3. Humps

Crappies like underwater humps, which provide quick routes from deep water to shallow water as conditions change. The best are 5 to 20 feet from the surface and have substantial deep water around them, such as a creek channel running alongside. Humps with timber, brush, rocks or other cover are also productive. Watch your fishfinder for humps as you scout from your boat. When you find one, narrow your fishing area to choice zones — points, pockets, rock beds, timbered or brushy areas, etc. — then mark them with buoys so you can fish with ease. Spinners such as the Blakemore Road Runner work great here.

Sonar units and other electronic tools can help you catch spring crappies

Studying a sonar unit and bottom contour map unit can help you pinpoint places where May crappies are likely to be. (Photo: Keith Sutton)

4. Ledges and channel breaks

Crappie anglers should also watch their sonar for subtle ledges and channel breaks on lake bottoms. Steep drops aren’t as attractive to crappies, but they often congregate along shallow ditches, cuts, ledges and gullies near bankside bluffs or close to coves. These structures are especially productive when near weed beds, timber stands or other crappie cover. If you’re looking for the big ones, pushing crankbaits or minnow-baited bobber rigs in front of your boat is a good way to nab slabs here.

5. Points

Like humps, points also serve as pathways for fish moving between shallow and deep water. By working a point methodically from near-shore to offshore, you can determine the day’s depth pattern and use it to help locate crappies on other points. Work a jig, minnow, crankbait or spinner around all visible cover and structure — stumps, fallen and standing timber, rocks and man-made brushpiles are all places where fish gather. If you catch crappies around features at the point’s upper end, then concentrate on similar shallow features when you move to other areas. If you find crappies are favoring deeper areas, continue fishing deep-water structure until you notice a pattern shift.

6. Thicket structures

In waters where edges of good crappie cover get pounded by scores of anglers, the biggest crappies often move into thickets to avoid the ruckus. For example, if a lake has acres of button willows, fat slabs abandon easily-reached edges. That’s when an angler must pull his boat into a thicket and fish interior structures such as logs, stumps or creek channel edges. A jig or minnow dropped beside one of these will nearly always entice slabs.

7. Man-made fish attractors

Fisheries agencies often construct fish cover by sinking reefs of trees and brush in waters where lack of cover limits crappie production. Buoys often mark the locations of these man-made attractors. Others are marked on maps and can be pinpointed using sonar. All such shelters are likely to harbor crappie concentrations year-round.

8. Threadfin shad schools

Big crappies often follow threadfin shad schools and gorge themselves on these baitfish. Look for schools in shallow water near dawn and dusk. You may see them disturbing the surface as crappies chase them. On a fishfinder, a school of threadfins usually appears as a compact band of pixels one to several feet thick. Crappies will appear as scattered individuals around or beneath the shad, seldom more than half a dozen or so together. When you see signs of schools, drop tandem-rigged jigs beside your boat at the same depth as the fish and work them with a slow lift-drop action.

Spring crappie fishing involves patterning and noticing different habits this time of year

Big crappies following schools of threadfin shad are suckers for properly worked jigs. (Photo: Keith Sutton)

Many fishermen complain that crappies are unpredictable in May, but the one thing you can predict is that you’ll find the cover. And if you methodically search these eight areas, you’ll find spring crappies.


About Keith Sutton:

Keith Sutton headshotKeith Sutton is the author of “The Crappie Fishing Handbook,” a 198-page, full-color book full of crappie-fishing tips for beginners and experts alike. To order an autographed copy, send a check or money order for $29.45 to C&C Outdoor Productions, 15601 Mountain Drive, Alexander, AR 72002. For credit card and PayPal orders, visit www.catfishsutton.com.


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6 Ways to Attack Late-Season Gobblers

By Mike Marsh

If you have the will to hunt challenging
late-season birds, one of these strategies will
help lead the way!

The perfect turkey decoy set-up to lure gobblers in

This set-up was irresistible to a mature gobbler with 1 1/4-inch spurs. It consists of a mounted hen, a plastic jake decoy and a gobbler decoy with a real fan mounted. The set-up was created to lure this dominant bird. The range was 10 yards. The weapon was a crossbow. (Photo: Mike Marsh)

When the weather gets hot and spring turkey season gets long in the tooth, the easy gobblers are gone. Hunters who still have a tag must switch attack plans, adapting to changing breeding habits and habitat use. Here are six ways to increase the odds of filling that tag.

1. Switch to a custom call

Mass-manufactured calls are based on traditional patterns and materials. Therefore, a lot of them sound pretty much the same. To give late-season gobblers something new to think about, I resist the temptation to employ custom calls during the early weeks and reserve them for the late season.

Ralph Jensen of The Master’s Touch (www.mastershoppe.com/calls.html) in Wilmington, North Carolina made my favorite custom call. The box is cherry and the lid is raised-grain chestnut that gives extremely raspy sounds. I also use Super Yelper (www.Superyelper.com) scratch boxes. Richard Shively uses different woods to make different sounds and tunes his calls to different pitches. Havalon writer and editor Steve Sorensen (www.EverydayHunter.com) also makes custom scratch boxes, and each of his calls produces a wide variety of pitches.

To call late-season turkeys I often use only my voice because it’s a natural sound. Master a hen’s yelps and cuts with your vocal chords and you can toss away the diaphragm. Another great late-season call few gobblers have heard is a homemade wing-bone.

The author with his lucky catch of the day, thanks to an effective turkey decoy

The author used every trick in the book to fool this wary gobbler. One was hunting on a Sunday in North Carolina, when only archery gear is allowed. No other hunters were in the woods to ruin the set-up, and that may have helped bring this wary old gobbler into crossbow range. (Photo: Mike Marsh)

2. Raise the decoy bar

Gobblers learn to ignore poorly designed decoys, and they won’t often fool a late-season bird. However, incredibly life-like decoys are effective during later weeks, with those made by Dave Smith (www.davesmithdecoys.com) getting high marks.

I raise the bar with a mounted hen, and using a super-realistic jake decoy with her will help keep a strutting gobbler from hanging up when he sees her, which is a natural reaction. Her feathers moving in the wind and the old boy’s jake-jealousy often overpower his caution.

A last ditch trick is adding a gobbler decoy, whether it’s a stuffer or one with a real fan. Recently I used a Mojo Outdoors Scoot and Shoot (www.mojooutdoors.com) with a real fan to attract a dominant bird into 10 yards, and took him with a Horton Vision crossbow. I had hunted the old bird for days (perhaps years) without success.

Using a lifelike gobbler deke works best when you are certain you’re hunting the cock-of-the-walk. If he sees a real hen and a mounted gobbler or tail fan, he goes on the attack. A subordinate bird may display but hang up, or just run away.

3. Blind luck

Late in season, warier gobblers take their time coming to a call. A hunter must sit without moving as long as it may take because a gobbler can spot the slightest movement from a great distance. A blind keeps the hunter concealed and allows him to fidget without limit. If the bird arrives silently in what would be a bad shooting position for a hunter without a blind, the hunter remains undetected while he shoulders his shotgun.

Turkey hunting from a blind can come in handy for late season gobblers

Mike Marsh took this gobbler by hunting from a blind. The bird came within 10 yards and was downed with an arrow from a crossbow. (Photo: Mike Marsh)

4. Hunt late in the day

By the end of the season, henned-up gobblers become rarities after 10 a.m. Peak hunting hours are between 10:30 and 12:30, but you might jumpstart a gobbling session anytime during the afternoon.

You may not hear as many gobblers when you hunt later in the day. However, any gobbler that sounds off is often more willing to come to a call than those you heard at sunrise because he probably doesn’t know where any hens are.

5. Follow the food

Many hunters don’t realize that when everything turns green, turkeys generally abandon food plots. Greenery in controlled burns and budding forests pull them away in favor of abundant natural foods, including grasses, seeds, buds, insects and other invertebrates.

I have taken turkeys that would not leave swamps as they filled their crops with dragonfly larvae, or wanted to stay in the timber where budding saplings were crawling with caterpillars. Examine the crop of a late-season gobbler and it will tell the tale.

Check out the crop of late season gobblers and it could lead you in the right direction

The crop of this gobbler held native seeds and vegetation and no evidence of man-made food plantings. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

6. Share him with a friend

If a stubborn gobbler has you hearing gobbles in your sleep, share him. No two hunters call the same way. No two hunters take the same approach. A simple switch in calling techniques, decoys or set-up locations can turn the tide. Give your partner the lead role, allowing him to plan the hunt and call while providing him with just enough information to start the hunt. Follow along as an observer. Leave the calls you’ve been using at home, but be sure to bring your shotgun.

Late-season birds are a challenge, but if you have the will to hunt them, one of these six strategies will help lead the way.


About Mike Marsh:

mike marsh headshotMike Marsh’s articles, columns and photos have appeared in more than 100 magazines and newspapers. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina and has written four books about the state’s hunting, fresh-water and salt-water fishing. His latest is “Fishing North Carolina.” To contact Mike, view his award-winning articles and photos or order his books, visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com.


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Recipe: Quick & Easy Wild Turkey Parmesan

By Tracy L. Schmidt

No time for a turkey dinner?
Think again!

Finished wild turkey parmesan

Here is a look at the finished dish. Turkey doesn’t long on the plate at our house. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Some folks think that cooking wild game meats is complicated, but it doesn’t need to be difficult at all. This recipe is great for a family-style dinner after a long day of work. It comes together so fast you might be able to catch all the members of your family at the same place at the same time. And, after they’ve eaten it once, they’ll want to be there to eat it again. Even kids can help with the preparation of this dish. We like to serve ours with a tossed garden salad and garlic bread.

Sometimes I get the turkey and the breading mixture prepared the evening before so I can just come home and get started with cooking. This meal works well with wild turkey because the meat does not become tough — a complaint I sometimes hear from people who eat wild turkey that’s not properly prepared. The other thing that turns people off is finding feather bits attached to their meat. The easiest way to deal with any remnants of undercoat feathers during preparation is to use a paper towel to remove them.

The key to executing this dish successfully is to make sure the bottom of your turkey pieces do not burn while they are cooking through. Once you put the sauce on them you won’t be able to flip them over, so make sure your pan heat does not run away from you. I lift my pieces during the cooking process to check for burning. To be safe the meat needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

Tenderize your wild turkey cutlets before breading them

Tenderize the cutlets until they are thin and then bread them. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Ingredients:

1 egg white
2 teaspoons milk
Table salt
Pepper
1/2 cup corn flake cereal crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 portions of wild turkey, tenderized flat
2 tablespoons butter
1 (8-ounce) can pizza sauce
1/4 cup grated Italian cheese blend
Quart-sized plastic zip bag

Instructions:

Combine egg and milk in bowl. Pat the turkey dry, then salt and pepper the portions. Place the Parmesan cheese and cereal crumbs in the plastic bag and shake to mix. Then dredge the turkey pieces in the egg mixture and put in the bag, zip it shut and shake to coat. Dredge and shake each piece twice.

Brown your wild turkey on both sides without burning it

Brown the turkey portions on both sides, keeping the side that will be the bottom a lighter brown. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

In a large skillet, melt the butter and brown the turkey on both sides. Keep one side just lightly browned and put the pizza sauce on the darker browned side that will be the top. Add a few sprinkles of the cheese blend and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. You can cover the pan briefly during the last minute or so to help melt the cheese. Go lightly on the cheese so it melts quickly before the bottoms of the turkey pieces burn (if uncovered) or get soggy (if covered).

Cooked wild turkey parmesan with cheese on top

Top the turkey pieces with the sauce and a light sprinkling of cheese. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

An alternative method is to cook the turkey separately from the sauce, heat the sauce in the microwave and then add it to the top of the cutlets when they are cooked through. Then sprinkle the cheese on top of the heated sauce.


About Tracy L. Schmidt:

Tracy Schmidt headhsotTracy L. Schmidt is a certified master food preservation specialist and the author of the book “Venison Wisdom.” Each of her recipes is tested and perfected. She is married to Daniel Schmidt, editor in chief of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine and host of “Deer & Deer Hunting TV” on NBC Sports. Tracy enjoys the versatility of Havalon Knives in both the kitchen and the field.


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