Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Let's Talk Turkey
When I was young, seeing a turkey, a deer or a fox were rare things that mostly happened to avid hunters who spent lots of time outdoors. For those of us who didn't hunt much, we felt very fortunate to see one of these creatures. Three decades later, turkeys aren't so rare to see anymore, I have a fox that lives in the woods behind my house that I see a handful of times during a year and the deer are almost as common as house flies. Still, this is the first place I have lived where I have had a front row seat to the life cycle of the turkey.
Last year, two or three hens gave birth to about two dozen chicks and would parade them on the edge of our lawn heading west in the morning and east in the evening. We watched them grow up to be fine young jennies and jakes but as winter approached, they moved on or perhaps due to the late morning and early evening darkness, they passed unnoticed. This spring however, we have certainly gotten a show as two of the surviving jakes are now full fledged toms and have really been flaunting their stuff as they pass by.
I have strived to get a great shot of them flaunting their stuff but it has proven challenging despite having two opportunities a day. They don't run a tight schedule nor do they make any noise and by the time I spot them, they are almost already across my lawn. By the time I grab the camera and get outside, it is always too late. Other times I make it outside but the toms aren't around and I have a thousand photos of the hens and really don't desire anymore. Still other times the weather is such that the pictures don't turn out or I don't want to go out. Yet other times everything aligns but I scare them away as I sneak in for the (photo) shot. The two best pictures I have in all my attempts are these slightly out of focus ones that I have taken through my dining room windows using a telephoto lens. The woven wire structure encloses a tree sprout that I planted early last fall to try to repopulate all the trees I have lost in the last four years. The same trail that the turkeys use is also used by a whole herd of deer at least twice a day and thus the only way trees can survive in that zone is if they remain fenced until they are too big to be molested by the deer. I have a friend who has permits to bow hunt deer within city limits who I may let thin out the herd behind my house a bit this coming fall. But for now, the turkeys I just love to watch and try to snap that perfect photo of a tom strutting his stuff.