Thursday, April 23, 2009

Close encounter with a wild turkey


So yesterday afternoon the resupply mission to Steve Martinez' cabin in Upper Michigan had been accomplished and the Lady Friend and I were doing the posted 55 on Highway M-64, heading for the motel at Silver City, when I spotted a female wild turkey across the road. She was ambling along gobbling to herself, as is the wont of wild turkeys, a species always a few feathers short of a headdress. Just as I was about to pass she launched herself across the road in a perfect deflection shot and -- pow! -- caught the van spang on the left mirror, smashing it into flinders.

I drove back, picked up the remnants of the mirror, and looked up to see a battered pickup stopped across the road. It had arrived not 60 seconds after the collision.

"Everybody okay?" the driver called.

"Yep," we said.

"You gonna eat that?" his wife said.

"Nope," we said.

"Can we?" she said.

"Sure," we said.

"It's our dinner tonight," she said, thanking us and scooping up the bird, and they were on their way.

Roadkill does not go to waste in Ontonagon County, hard hit by the recession.

An hour later a kindly body shop man in town jury-rigged a replacement with a rusty old truck mirror and about ten feet of duct tape. I hope it'll last the 400 miles back to Evanston.

You can bet this incident will end up in a future novel.


  1. I can't believe that they took it home to eat. I guess I like hte old fashioned way of hunting - with rifles, not with car mirrors LOL

  2. In a place with 20 per cent unemployment and sometimes desperate need, fresh roadkill never goes to waste. A sheriff's deputy told me recently that whenever he encounters a deer that has just been struck and killed by a vehicle, he often calls one of several people he knows who can use the meat, and they come and collect it quickly.

    Fastidiousness goes out the window when one is hungry.

  3. huh. now i feel weird that the first thing i thought was, "what good luck, wild turkey is great!"

  4. Headline in next week's Herald: "DNR Denies Existence of Kamikaze Turkeys in UP". When I was just a hermlit plying those woods wild turkeys were unheard of. Other new species since those dim days include raccoons, lamprey and wood ticks. Wolves, eagles, and lake trout have come back from near extinction, and the deer population has exploded. Now, if only smelt runs would return to their former glory - along with the spring ritual of biting-off the head of the first one dipped from the creek.
    BTW, your 3-worded conversation along the roadside is very Finlander-Yooperesque. Only your Illinois plates would have given you away.

  5. Growing up with 5 other kids, my family didn't hesitate to scoop up the deer we hit and take it home. Basically free food.

    Even then we were living pay check to pay check and deer hunting was a way to fill the freezer. We all hunted there wasn't even discussion (or in my mind even a thought) that one of us might not go hunting.

    A couple years into it my father gave me clemency turns out I can't hit the broadside of a barn let a lone a deer in the woods.

    My sister on the other hand was so good that she was given the nick name 'Dead Eye.' She earned that after asking one year 'can I hit them in the head?' b/c she knew she was good enough to aim and hit the moving head. Oh, by the way, my father didn't tell her no and she did hit the next one in the head.

    In a weird twist of fate, we are having turkey today. Got one from work over the holidays and decided now was as good as time as ever. Will think of that other family as we eat our turkey the next few days.

  6. I can top the turkey/deer roadkill stories. My home state of Mississippi is no stranger to poverty, so I completely understand making the best use possible of everything (even roadkill). Turkey and deer, though, are things that one would normally eat. I suppose it's not such a stretch to gather up a freshly-run-over one. Possum is another story. Yes, I said possum. Those are found in abundance scattered across MS roadways and many of them do not go to waste.

    I absolutely agree with what Henry said about being hungry. I just don't know how hungry I'd have to be to eat a possum . . . . .

  7. Eric: Did you mean wild turkey the bird, or Wild Turkey the libation?

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