By 1909, the wild turkey population in Southern Ontario had been provincially extirpated by unregulated hunting, and agricultural incursion. Then, in 1984 they were re-introduced to what remained of the Southern Ontario “wilds’. They have done very well, as there are now Spring and Fall hunting seasons for them. This concludes the informative section of our posting today. The remainder shall consist of my usual mindless drivel.
Turkeys … huh … go figure eh ? What a pack of morons. You know, I’ve never tasted one. I’ve eaten rattlesnake, duck, alligator, camel (dromedary), bear, kangaroo, bison, ostrich, moose, venison, red squirrel, boar, and some other stuff I can’t remember, but I’ve never tasted wild turkey. I gotta score a breast from a local hunter and try it. That may sound silly, but I can tell you wild boar doesn’t taste like anything from a domestic pig. It’s totally unique, and maybe wild turkey’s the same story.
In the meantime, I’m glad turkeys have made such a comeback. Seeing one (or often enough, seeing 2 dozen) is rather exhilarating as they’re so friggin’ big. You can’t really appreciate how big they are until you see a tom in full display for the ladies. It looks just like the pictures on labels and such, until you see one 20 feet away doing it. Of course, it couldn’t rival a peacock, but it came in as close as cardinals or orioles do to some tropical birds. Turkeys can be beautiful, and noble creatures. So, why is being called a turkey, an insult ? That would be ‘cause they’re dumber ‘n a mourning dove, but even bigger than the mourning dove’s dumber cousin, the grouse. In the words of Dean Wormer from National Lampoon’s Animal House; “Fat, and stupid, is no way to go through Life son”. However, I beg to differ. Between Ranger, the Wife, and myself, we’ve seen lots of fat, stupid turkeys in our travels. One morning, while walking past my front window (looking out upon small town suburbia), I watched a full grown turkey wandering across my neighbour’s front lawn. Then it looks through the fence, saw her vegetable garden (I assume) and it hops the fence with no effort whatsoever. Ranger’s got a brother-in-law who says turkeys can’t fly. So, I guess that one walked the 6 blocks, across town from the nearest field to get to Marg’s lawn.
Well, I happen to know they can fly, because I’ve seen them do it. I don’t mean the flapping of wings and the jump to clear a 4 foot fence. I suspect the jump has more to do with clearing the fence than the flapping of wings. No, I mean I have seen one in full flight just like a … bird. The wife was at the wheel as we drove down a typical Southern Ontario back-road. You know, the kind lined with trees on one side and with trees on a big hill on the other. Well, I looked up the road and, realizing the unlikeliness of seeing a flying garbage bag, I just pointed and made noises like those one of those stupid little rat-dogs. The wife follows my finger pointing and says “Oh it’s a turkey”. Oh yeah, that woulda been my next guess. Right after an Antonov 225, but at least they look really cool in flight. This thing looked like something out of a Pixar movie, a great big feathered butt soaring surprisingly well on a pair of woefully inadequate wings. It flapped them a couple of times and continued to soar along in front of us. Then as the hill on the right came down to road level, it executed an awesomely graceful bank to the right … and promptly crashed into the trees, then dropped down into the undergrowth. It likely impacted with sufficient force to drive something into extinction. Oh yeah, it was a turkey alright, either that or a 35 pound grouse. Either which way they would’ve graduated, bottom of their class, from the same flight training academy.
One of my favourite sightings was just after Ranger and I cleared the bridge over the mill pond, we spotted a hen and a whole rafter of 9 young. They were escaping down the road in front of us. As we’ve already determined, turkeys in flight are either funnier ‘n all Hell, or embarrassing as all Hell. Therefore, you’d think they’d at least be dignified on the ground. ‘Fraid not folks ! This is another, in the many, reasons why being called a turkey is an insult. They look like emus with their knee-caps shot out. So there are nine of the silly looking things, chasing behind their mother in unholy terror. They could’ve ducked into the bushes at the roadside and escaped at any time. But no, they elected to keep running down the road, even trying to pass each other in a race for first place behind Mom. I felt like the loser in a NASCAR elimination tryout, being as far back as I was. Suddenly Mom gets this great idea, and ducks into the bushes on the roadside. ‘Course, the nine Einsteins continue tearing up the tarmac. She sticks her head out and makes a chirping noise and the nine gifted youngsters suddenly realize, Mom’s not in front no more. Holy Crap ! Turn it around ! The ones in the back were now in the lead as they’re closest to Mom. Six of them dove into the bushes behind her, and three came up with a better plan. The three stooges start running down the road in front of us again. I guess they figured they’d make an escape with a sharp left at the intersection of Mill and Township rd. # 7. They were counting on my truck losing time while dining on Mom and the dumber siblings. When it became frighteningly obvious that my truck was much smarter than that, they chose the turkey’s last resort. Close your eyes, start flapping and jump ! If, when you open them again, you see a tree, not a truck’s grill coming straight at you … you win ! Oh, yeah, it might hurt, but you still win ! Ranger and I had a great laugh at them and carried on into town for lunch. No, we had burgers and fries.