Turkey trot

first_imgBy Wade HutchesonUniversity of GeorgiaI danced with turkeys a while back.I wasn’t dreaming, and I’m not a turkey hunter, though at somepoint I’d like to give it a try. I was visiting with a propertyowner, discussing his pastures, and we were pleased to watch twoyoung male turkeys on the back side of the pasture.They must have been pleased to see us, too, as they and then athird came out to greet us. They came right up to within about 30yards of the truck. That’s unusual, as turkeys aren’t normallysocial with people.These young turkeys, though, walked up to the truck and stoodthere gobbling at us. They even followed the truck as we tried toease off. I tried to turn the truck around so the landowner couldsee them, and they followed us in circles.’Dances With Turkeys’This went on for more than 5 minutes. We eventually got out ofthe truck and danced with them. They inspected us and decided weweren’t worth the trouble and left.It was an amazing wildlife experience. I had a camera, but it wassuch a shock and we were laughing so hard I never thought to getphotographic proof.I’ve told this story to several people, most of whom didn’tbelieve me. You know county agents have been known to stretch thetruth a tad.Looking for handout?The only thing I can figure out that makes sense is that someonemanaged to imprint on these birds, and they got used to peopleand were looking for a handout. Perhaps a sage turkey expert canoffer another explanation.If the game warden is reading this, no harm came to the turkeys,though we were tempted.I visited with some science teachers last week. Their story wasabout a hawk that had twice, on consecutive days, had itsbreakfast within view of their classroom. The reaction from thestudents ranged from utter amazement to being totally grossedout. But what a teachable moment!Wildlife surrounds usWildlife surrounds us, even in town. I consider that a goodthing. It offers us enjoyment and, to many, improves the qualityof life when you can witness wildlife up close.Having wildlife nearby can provide quality family time andopportunities to teach conservation and the realities of nature.At other times, it’s a frustration, as deer, squirrels, skunks,racoons and others cause problems in landscapes, roadways andother places. Ask my wife about the ‘possum in the dog-food bag– a handful of fur she’ll never forget.Which do you want?Which do you want, more or less wildlife? Your county office ofthe University of Georgia Extension Service can offer help inattracting more wildlife to the backyard or advise you on thingsyou can do to deter it.We can help you be a better manager of your fish pond, suggestwildlife plantings and tell you which landscape plants areresistant to deer.If we have time, I might even show you my turkey dance.last_img

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