This weekend my friend bagged a 22 pound wild turkey, with a 9.5 inch beard. He was a big sucker, a perhaps a bit older bird than I would ideally want, but all in all a very pleasant experience.
Cleaning the bird was a LOT of work, and had some surprises, e.g. the crop was HUGE and disgusting and the breastbone was absolutely enormous.
After the bird was plucked, drawn and dressed, we rinsed the cavity and salted it down. The we rubbed a compound butter on and under the skin. (I wasn't in charge of the butter, so I don't know exactly what was in in....) We stuck it in a roaster for 4 hours.
The bird came out kind of dull brown, not quite as golden-y, crispy skin as a domestic turkey. The white meat was sliced and basically looked like your average ordinary turkey breast. The dark meat was incredibly dark, almost looked like liver. The white meat tasted like domestic meat, except had a bit subtler flavor, was just the slightest bit dry and a tough. It may have been overcooked by about 15 to 20 minutes... We didn't eat much of the skin, which was waaay thicker than a domestic turkey's skin. Even the folks at the table who were pretty skeptical wolfed down a bunch of turkey, and everyone claimed they wouldn't have known the difference if we had told them it was a butterball.
I still have my turkey license so we'll be going out this weekend. Even though I know the big tom with a long beard is the trophy bird, I'm going to be aiming at a jake (younger male). I hunt mostly for the food aspect of it, so I want a young, tender bird. I plan on roasting it with an onion, a lemon and fresh thyme in the cavity, and then a compound butter on and under the skin with some fresh lemon thyme under the breast skin.