Voices from the Wild
By Tamia Nelson
November 26, 2002
Some days, ya wanna stay in bed. Ya know
what I mean? But a guy's gotta eat, right? And us turkeys ain't any
different. We gotta scratch for a living, just like you. It's bad enough
we don't get no respect, already. Turkey. It's like a sick joke.
Some schmuck screws up and somebody else says, "Jeez, what a turkey!" And
then everybody starts laughin'.
Well, I got news for you, buddy. Us wild turkeys ain't no
turkeys, if you unnerstan' what I'm saying. We're smart. We're sharp. And
we're quick on our feet. It's either that or dead. I gotta thank Tamia
here for givin' me a chance to set the record straight. Us turkeys have
gotten a bum rap for too long.
Tom's the name, by the way. And don't confuse me with that sorry dude
in your freezer. I'm a lean machine, not some hormone-injected factory
reject who's never seen the sun or stretched his wings. Of course, it's
not the freezer dude's fault that he ended up where he did. He didn't grow
up wantin' to come to dinner at your place, did he? No way! It's like ya
made him an offer he couldn't refuse, right? Ya better believe it!
Us wild turkeys, now, we're something else. Just ask any hunter. Those
crazy nimrods drop thousands of bucks on camouflage clothing and calls and
shotguns, and then they spend their evenings and weekends tryin' to learn
to make noises like a horny hen. And why? So they can sit outside for
hours every spring, cluckin', yelpin', and freezin' their butts off. Can't
see any sense in it, myself. Most of 'em come home with nothin' but
chapped cheeks and bad attitudesand those are the lucky ones. The
unlucky ones end up in the ER, waitin' for some guy in a white coat to
pick number-four shot out of their necks, at about a thousand bucks a
minute. Go figger. It sure don't sound like fun to me.
'Course it can always get worse, can't it? Every year, a few hunters'
luck runs out for good. Instead of the ER, they end up on a slab. Then
whaddaya call it? You know
. Collateral damage.
So ya gotta wonder who's the real turkey. Us, or the nimrods dressed up
to look like oak trees. Ya ask me, I'd say it's no contest. Yeah, I know.
It's their funeral. Except mostly it isn't. And that's my beef. I ain't
happy at the idea of being somebody's dinner. You can unnerstan' that,
can't ya? Sure ya can.
I gotta admit that us wild turkeys owe the hunters a lot, though. Not
too many years back, we were history, almost. Down for the count. And then
the hunters stuck their hands in their pockets and came up with big money
to bring us back from the brink. It worked, too. It's a
return-of-the-native thing. So now the hunters want to see a little
interest on their investment. "Harvesting the surplus" is probably how
they'd put it. It only makes sense, I suppose. To a hunter. But you have
to figger that us turkeys will look at things a little differently.
Gratitude only goes so far, right?
Anyhow, it's good to be back where we belong. Didn't old Ben Franklin
want us for America's national bird? Ben was one smart guy. A real
real turkey, you might say. But did Americans listen to him? Hell, no!
They chose the bald eagle instead. Can you believe it? The bald eagle!
America coulda had a hard-workin' team player as its national symbol.
Instead it picked a damn garbage-eater. A lazy loner that ain't done an
honest day's work in his life. What your Jeff Norman calls a "beautiful
bully." Jeez. Gimme a break!
Now maybe you might say I'm prejudiced, right? And maybe you'd be on to
somethin'. That don't change the facts, though. Even if the Founding
Fathers wouldn't listen to Ben, we turkeys are real
red-white-and-blue Americans. Just take a good look at us toms in spring,
when we're wearing our colors and spreading our tails, stampin' and
struttin' and showin' off for the ladies. If we ain't genuine Yankee
Doodle Dandies, I know don't anybody who is.
Our love life ain't bad, either, if you'll pardon my French. Ben woulda
noticed that. Well, yeah, sure, the jakesthat's what ya call the
young toms on the makethey have a hard time gettin' any action. But
they're only kids. We big old birds do more'n all right. And we've got the
harems to prove it. Could be that's what gets the nimrods so worked
up. After all, they're sittin' alone under drippin' trees on cold spring
mornings, trying their damndest to sound like a hen turkey, while all
around 'em us toms are gettin' it on. Maybe the hunters are just jealous.
Hell, I can unnerstan' that. It's only natural.
But spring's a long way off, ain't it? And right now love's the
farthest thing from my mind. Winter storms are already hittin' the north
country hard. Take it from mewhen you scratch for a living, snow
ain't your friend. Getting enough food is Job One all winter long, and my
love life's on hold till the sap starts to rise. In these dark,
late-November days I'm already back to basics. Hunkerin' down and hangin'
tough. Diggin' for food all day and roostin' high in the big pines at
Why go high? Come on, guy! It ain't rocket science. Just think like a
turkey. The ground's no place to hang out after the sun goes down. Too
many hungry meat-eaters in the shadows, all of 'em with sharp teeth and
squirmin' appetites. So when the light sinks low, this bird gets
highreal high. My momma didn't raise no stupid boys.
Which brings me back to that rock-solid dude in your freezer. His big
day's coming up, ain't it? Poor bastard! Thanksgiving? Yeah, sure!
He ain't got much to be thankful for, has he? Of course, to be
fair, he never missed a meal. Never shivered through a thirty-below-zero
night. Never had to dodge a starving fox or a load of number-four shot. He
had it pretty easy, in fact. Can't say I envy him, though. I'd rather take
my chances. Like it says on the license plate, "Live free or die." That's
my motto, too.
And speaking of life and death, it's gettin' late. Daylight's fadin'
fast, and I still got a lotta scratchin' to do if I want to keep my
strength up. There's a long winter ahead, and I don't want any young jakes
putting the make on my harem of hens come spring, do I? Not hardly.
Damn! Almost forgot my manners. Sorry about that. Thanks for the
Thanksgiving invite, Tamia. Much appreciated. You'll unnerstan' if I can't
make dinner, though. Not really my scene. It's like they say: A bird in
. But us turkeys kinda take the other view, if ya know
what I mean.
Anyway, it's been fun. I always like talkin' turkey. See ya round. Or
not. Dependin'. Now I gotta go.
Copyright © 2002 by Verloren Hoop Productions. All rights