Wild-harvested game and fish make for an authentic Thanksgiving holiday

​​FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 21, 2023) — Thanksgiving traditions enjoyed by many families across Kentucky include activities and recipes handed down by previous generations. For families looking to establish new traditions, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has some suggestions.

Families have many natural options to make a delicious and nutritious meal this holiday season, including wild turkey, deer, waterfowl and small game, and myriad fishes. ​​

“Using wild-harvested game and fish for Thanksgiving offers an authentic alternative to those who want to serve a traditional meal as previous generations may have enjoyed,” said Becky Bloomfield, Field to Fork coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Game and fish sourced by the family for the holiday table can provide an impressive, all-natural option for the holiday.”​​

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife provides ideas and resources for alternative Thanksgiving meals on its website, Recipes and other resources from the department’s Field to Fork program, feature stories from the Kentucky Afield Magazine and TV show, and recipes from other sources for fresh or frozen game are easily accessed through the “Learn to Hunt” and “Wild Game Recipes” pages.​​

“Deer hunters who experience a bountiful harvest during the current open seasons can make the holiday better for others by donating their deer to Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry,” Bloomfield said. “They ensure that deer meat will not go to waste by going to food banks and other charities to feed those most in need.”​​

Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry is a statewide hunger relief program dedicated to providing a healthy source of protein to needy Kentuckians. The organization coordinates with deer processors to distribute donated venison to participating food banks.​​

Several hunting seasons are open now or will open on Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day. Fall fishing is an often-overlooked opportunity to harvest fresh protein for healthful table fare.​​

The department’s website contains detailed information on wild game and fish species available for harvest across Kentucky; season dates and requirements; and how to purchase a hunting, fishing, or combination license plus any necessary permits. ​​

​​The comprehensive, annual Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide and Fishing and Boating Guide publications provide essential information on lawful hunting and fishing, and are available on the department's website and wherever hunting licenses are sold. The hunting guide for waterfowl is available only online.

​​For more information regarding hunting and fishing, or about learning to hunt and fish, visit the department’s website at​ or call 1-800-858-1549, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (ET) weekdays, excluding holidays.

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