Often we find a turkey feather on the road or in the woods. Sometimes we find the remains of a bobcat’s dinner beside a log. If the feathers are at all clean, we collect them, and Libby now has quite a few in a mug on her desk. I think if we can only find a few more, we can assemble a whole turkey for ourselves.
There are regular flocks of turkeys in our woods. Often we see them when we are driving along the road beside the neighbor’s farm field to our north. The turkeys are on the other side of the fence, out in the field gleaning grain from the ground, but when we approach they dash for the cover of our forest. This means that they run from the field, across our road, and into our trees. Essentially, they run toward us to get away from us.
I’ve heard and read lots of accounts of how stupid turkeys are, but that doesn’t seem right. Turkeys have been successful in Missouri for a long time, despite unmanaged hunting until relatively recent decades. Missouri even exported turkeys to neighboring states for many years. The Conservation Department reports how hard it is to lure turkeys into trap nets so that they can be banded and released. Turkey hunters I know spend hours perfecting their calls in order to attract birds on the hunt. This seems like a canny prey to me.
Furthermore, turkeys are ground nesters — they actually make no more of a nest than scraping away a few leaves — so they can be victim to the greatest predation pressures. Yet their numbers flourish, so they must have evolved successfully into their niche in the forest order.
I understand that wild turkey meat is very stringy, though I can’t recall ever having any myself. Most of the recipes I have seen for it involve some kind of marinade lasting several months or years. Libby’s sister told us of how she and her daughters had visited a commercial turkey farm to pick out their Thanksgiving dinner. As they drove up, the entire flock of turkeys ran toward their car as though to greet them. She said it was tough picking one out after that since the birds seemed so pleased to see them. Maybe it’s the turkey city cousins who are the dumb ones.
Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
As you read this. we should be somewhere in the air over the Pacific Northwest, with the ultimate destination of Eugene, Oregon where we will spend the weekend with our daughter, Rachel, and her wonderful husband, Travis.)