Wild Turkey

I have never been a bourbon drinker, but have long been a fan of wild turkeys. Like the bald eagle, wild turkeys were once believed to be almost extinct, and have now become commonplace.

I recall a conversation quite a few years ago with my older brother, who lives in South Dakota, our family’s ancestral home. This was when wild turkeys were first making a comeback, and the state had established a turkey hunting season in the Black Hills. My brother described how much fun he and his buddies–veteran duck, goose and pheasant hunters–had, loading a van with shotguns, ammo and beer, and driving eight hours across the state to the Hills where turkeys ostensibly were to be found. When we had the conversation in question, my brother and his friends had made the trip three times.

“But Paul,” I said. You keep telling me how much fun you have on these wild turkey hunting expeditions, but I’ve never heard you say that you’ve actually shot a turkey.”

Shot one?” he replied. “Hell, we’ve never even seen one!”

Which tells you something about hunters, I suppose. But those days are long gone. Nowadays, I am occasionally buzzed by a bald eagle while crossing a bridge on the way to my office. And wild turkeys? They are everywhere–more plentiful in my neighborhood than coyotes, even.

This morning I raised my garage door and what did I see? Ten wild turkeys in my driveway. I have seen this flock before, a hundred yards or so up the street. By the time I could get my phone out for a picture, they had trotted across the street, so I could only shoot them from the back. Not that they were especially afraid, or anything:


It’s hard to get a good photo of a wild turkey, since by the time you get your camera out, they are pretty much always heading in the opposite direction. But they are all over the place. In some parts of the Twin Cities, they are becoming a nuisance, crashing through picture windows and so on. I look forward to the day when bald eagles, too, are so common as to be tiresome.