Turkey trots have been a tradition at Thanksgiving for quite a while now. In Columbus Ohio next month, the 31st annual run to benefit Central Ohio Easter Seals will take place. And if you have an interest, you can check it out here.
Humans running as turkeys is one thing. Turkeys running is another. Wild turkeys seem to be one of the more laid back wild critters I’ve encountered. Their domesticated brethren on the other hand seem always on edge. And stupid. Perhaps they’re actually smart, realize their fate, and are just playing dumb to go for the sympathy vote. It isn’t working for them, but let’s get back to the wild version.
Many years ago I was driving along a farmer’s field lane to the back of the farm to inspect a soybean yield trial. Separating me from the field I needed was a narrow, wooded strip that housed a shallow tributary to the Mad River. I’d been told it was easy to just drive across the creek – it had been rocked for just this purpose. Just as I drove into the woods a wild turkey walked in front of the car. Then another. Soon there were more. I waited as one does at a railroad crossing. Ten wild turkeys, in no particular hurry, strolled past. I couldn’t have been more than fifteen feet from the closest one. One or two turned a head to check me out, but several others spent their attention toward the earth, pecking now or then at something worth eating I suppose. A vehicle on the lane was nothing to them. Ten restive turkeys strolling through my path was a big deal for me.
The Mad River turkey trot was long before cell phones with cameras… so I can’t actually prove that one with a picture. This past April, however, there were quite a few turkeys in a field along my route home in the evening. These I do have a picture of – and unless I miss my guess – there are ten turkeys here a little less than 100 yards from the road. This picture is taken less than a half mile from the July 2015 scene of the deer crossing Johnson Road at the deer crossing sign.
My most recent wild turkey sighting has to be my favorite. I was driving through Hardin County on my way back from a plot visit a couple weeks ago. There was construction on Hwy 31 (again) and I was winding my way through the country to get around. Turning south on a narrow little black top I had a corn field on the left and woods on the right. All the sudden an enormous turkey comes up out of the woods a hundred feet or so in front of me. Right behind comes another, though this one with less grace… stumbling onto the roadway. The second bird is the typical size wild turkey, but the first was easily the biggest I’ve ever seen. As I closed in on them they start hustling away at a trot, and I easily slowed to prevent hitting them. I fully expected they’ll dive into the corn to get out of the way, but no, these guys were up for a flight. The bigger bird was on the left, the normal sized right alongside. Their wings outstretched they start flapping and picking up the pace. My brain went to, “This I’ve got to see”. Sure enough, with what must have been an aerobatic feat worthy of R.E.O. Speedwagon’s Flying Turkey Trot they both get off the ground and fly away. I now have an appreciation for what Santa must experience when the reindeer get airborne in front of him.