Not So Dumb in the Wild
When folks think about a live turkey, they think about a very dumb bird. We’ve all heard an especially stupid person being called a turkey, or seen the sign that says, “How can I soar like an eagle when I have to work with such turkeys.” Those disparaging remarks were directed at the domestic turkey, not the bronzed bird we see here along Sulfur Creek.
The American wild turkey is a wily bird. Considering how sought after it is by hunters, it has to be or it would have been as hard to find as the passenger pigeon. In some parts of Texas, it has been eliminated due to indiscriminate illegal hunting, but here in the Central Texas Hills, it is still pretty common. This is a truly native bird in that it is only found in North America. It was domesticated by the indigenous people of Mexico and the Southwest and was a staple food for many groups.
The domestic version has been introduced to Europe and the rest of the world where it is considered good eating. The name for the bird I’ve heard comes from some of the early settlers mistaking it for a guinea or a pea hen which came to Europe via Turkey. It is about the same size as a peacock, but a lot quieter. The turkey eats bugs and acorns mainly and unless you startle one when you’re in the woods, they won’t do much more than scare you. We had a flock drift over the house once. They aren’t the world’s best flyers but they made it all the way to the creek bottom just gliding that afternoon.
It is a shame that some folks don’t wait until the season the Parks and Wildlife folks set aside to hunt turkeys. We used to have several large flocks that roamed up and down Sulfur Creek. They were a joy to watch and listen to early in the morning as they gobbled and putted at each other. One summer, some fellows started spot lighting the birds at night where they roosted in the oak trees up the creek. The closest neighbors called the game warden but they hunters were gone by the time he got there. She figured they had a scanner and were forewarned. They estimated that scum took about thirty birds that night. We still have a few turkeys on Sulfur Creek, but it will be years before they get built back up, if they ever do. Some folks are just greedy I guess.
Now there are some things that you can be greedy about and never do much damage, but that’s another story.
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