Turkey Season: The Jurassic Classic

Think back to your childhood — specifically the year 1993 — and I’m sure you’ll remember the blockbuster hit Jurassic Park. Following the release of this film, just about every little kid and their sister wanted to be a paleontologist— the dinosaur boom had commenced. The American public had become thoroughly obsessed with these lizard-like beasts.

Follow the story about 30 years later, and those kids did become paleontologists. And what did they find? Birds.

It was… like all birds. And not majestic, soaring, amazing feats of nature. A vast majority of what we think of as dinosaurs were disappointingly enough gigantic flightless birds. Feathers and all. Remember those veracious little velociraptors, with scaly skin and jaws snapping like piranhas? The photo on the right is a more accurate depiction of what these creatures probably looked like.

Now that we’ve gotten the disappointing — yet fascinating — truth out of the way, it’s time to talk about why every spring, you have the opportunity to be a total and complete badass. The opportunity? Turkey hunting.

Turkeys from the family that we know (Meleagridinae, which is a subfamily of North American Turkeys) have been roaming the planet since 23 million years ago, making them one of the older species of modern bird— although Chickens take the cake at around 67 million years ago. 

Turkeys remained quite similar throughout their evolutionary history, and they even bear similar traits than their extinct ancestors from the Phasianidae family— the family of large, grounded birds. They prove to be a window into what these pre-historic species behaved and looked like.

So what does this all mean to us? We’re hunters, not anthropologists. What this means is that every spring, we can go after a bird that is a living fossil, and has been on this earth 4,600 times longer than human civilization. We may never get to fulfill our movie-fueled childhood dream of chasing down a T-Rex, but we get to do something that’s damn close, and for what it’s worth, that’s pretty neat.

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