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      Nature Report: Wild Turkey Hunting

      As estimated 46 million turkeys will be cooked and eaten this Thanksgiving. According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. The vast majority of these turkey dinners will be the domesticated variety, but wild turkeys thrive throughout North America.

      Wild turkeys are more abundant in Texas than any other state, and Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists estimate that more than one million birds roam the state. In an average year, more than 100,000 hunters harvest some 31,000 wild turkeys statewide during the fall season.

      The native Rio Grande turkey flourishes throughout the ranch country of Deep South Texas, and this has been a banner year for turkey production. Timely rains have provided abundant cover and food for native turkeys, and they have responded with above average clutches and enhanced survival rates.

      Echoing thru the oak mottes, the loud gobbling of turkeys heralds in the spring in South Texas. The lengthening days signal the star of one of the most colorful courtship displays in nature. If the spirited gobbling of amorous toms doesn't attract hens, then the plumage of the gaudy gobblers is sure to impress the most reluctant of females.

      The Rio Grande gobbler is a lean and agile bird that can race away at 25 miles per hour or take flight in an instant. A sleek wild tom tips the scale at less than 20 pounds, but a flightless domestic bird may weigh in excess of 60 pounds.

      While domestic turkeys do make a fine Thanksgiving meal, if you really want to dine like a pilgrim, there is nothing quite as tasty as a wild turkey.

      With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.