Turkey Trot: Preventing a Thanksgiving Day Massacre

Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Written by Steve Wong

My son’s bedroom is now my home office, with Godzilla standing guard in the corner, beloved stuffed Puppy perched high and protected, and ceiling-to-floor glass windows on two out of four walls. My Mac and I spend a lot of time there, researching, organizing, writing via the information superhighway. For many hours, the only sound in the house is my typing… unless you count the voice in my head that screams, “Do more, faster!”

People who stay in this room compare it to sleeping in a treehouse because there are a lot of trees close to the windows. It is place where high-tech communications are shaded by Mother Nature. It always freaks me out when I’m deep in thought writing this column and some bird, usually a cardinal, does a kamikaze: flying full speed into the double-pane glass, breaking its neck in a head-on collision. Boom! My train of thought is now a wreck, and I walk outside to find another dead bird beneath the window. Thankfully, my dogs have no interest in dead birds. They are more interested in killing a few birds, most notably a rafter of wild turkeys that has teased them since spring.

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Seeing wild turkeys near my home is common. In the spring, I’ll see a Tom or two with a gaggle of hens making their way through the fields and woods in search of food. Soon, I’ll see them with a dozen or so chicks in tow. Admittedly, that is a cute and wholesome sight: little fluffy chicks scurrying to keep up with their moms and dads. Throughout the summer, I watch them grow. As the jakes and jennies grow up, the older gobblers and hens relinquish their parental duties. By late summer, most of the grown-ups are gone (who knows where) and it’s just the remaining young adults strutting across the road or gathering in my garden to feast on cucumbers and tomatoes. Little do they know that Thanksgiving plans are in the making.

Now, I’m not a hunter, so they have nothing to worry about from me. I get my easy-bake turkey from the Bi-Lo. But I have friends who are hunters and dogs that love fresh, wild, and young turkeys. Until I installed an underground electric dog fence, the turkeys kept their distance from my house for fear of canine attacks. My dogs have caught, killed, and eaten many wild turkeys over the years. Not any more. Recently, my dogs have learned that they cannot go beyond a certain perimeter in the yard. Wearing their red shock collars, if the dogs get close the perimeter, they get a warning beep. Get any closer, and they get a shock on their throats. They’ve learned their limits and so have the turkeys.

Most mornings or evenings, I’ll be at my computer and will notice my dogs sitting silently on the deck, looking at something. Ears up, tails slightly swaying, heads following the progressive movement in the distance. They don’t bark. They just sit and watch as the turkeys march by about five feet from the invisible electric fence. Somehow the turkeys know they are safe from attack, and they seem to relish the fact that my dogs cannot get to them. They never hurry and often stop to peck at seeds and bugs. They seem unaware of the dogs, but the dogs are very aware of them… just out of their reach… just beyond the shock… unconcerned that given battery failure there could be a Thanksgiving Day Massacre in the Carolina Foothills.

As I exceed the word-count on this column, I am aware of the Turkey Trot happening just outside. From the comfort of my office, I see the daily visit of about 10 turkeys coming out of the woods into my yard. The dogs are watching patiently. We are all very aware of Thanksgiving this month and the Bi-Lo special of buy-one-get-one-free. A Butterball for me; a Butterball for the dogs, and the wild turkeys never know just how close they have come to crossing the line. •

Steve Wong is a writer and publicist living in the Carolina Foothills. He can be reached at Just4Wong@gmailcom.