So it’s a glorious late spring morning and Tam and I are crossing Old County Road to Pine Hill Road, the last leg of our morning walk. He spots the turkey before I do, no surprise: it is well camouflaged in the thick scrub and undergrowth.
He wants to go after it, of course, but I am strong like cow and also smart enough to never go walking with an 80-pound malamute who isn’t wearing a walking harness as well as a collar.
Now, if I were the turkey and saw a large predator plunging and almost frothing to have me for lunch, I would skedaddle deeper into the woods. But I am not the turkey, and the turkey clearly doesn’t think like me, because instead of retreating into the woods it comes out into the open at the end of the dirt road. Tam is going nuts. I have both hands on the leash.
The turkey clearly understands the problem but doesn’t seem to get the solution. Instead of running into the woods, it runs back and forth across the end of Pine Hill Road. All I want to do is get Tam past the turkey, but the turkey won’t let us pass. I am afraid it will bolt into Old County Road and get hit by a car.
But the turkey doesn’t bolt in that direction and no cars are going by: hardly anyone’s on the road this bright holiday morning. Tam and I keep walking, or rather I keep walking and Tam keeps bucking and plunging and trying to run after the turkey. The turkey continues to zig and zag up Pine Hill, making no attempt to take cover.
Turkeys are a common sight around here. Over the years I’ve watched several turkey broods grow up. Solo turkeys are unusual; usually they roam in flocks, which may be as small as two or three or as large as almost twenty. (When there are that many, it’s easy to lose count.) Is this turkey perhaps playing decoy for a nest in the woods close by? When that’s the case, the turkey stops decoying when the threat moves out of range.
This turkey doesn’t stop. It keeps skittering back and forth across the road, just ahead of Tam and me. At the first of the two houses on this stretch of Pine Hill, there’s a break in the brush. Turkey starts to take advantage of it, I’m thinking we’ll finally have a chance to pass by — but no: turkey comes back into the road.
Finally, at the second and last house on the road, just before the dirt road turns into a path, the turkey zigs far enough off the road for Tam and me to pass and go into the woods in peace.Tam’s mind slips out of high prey drive and into a lower gear that remembers I’ve got string cheese in my bait bag.
I’m still wondering about that turkey. Why was it alone? It didn’t seem injured in any way. Was it protecting a nest? It’s at least a quarter mile from the beginning of Pine Hill to the second house on the road, and that seems an awfully big territory for one turkey to be protecting. Did the rest of the flock move on and leave it behind?