Skip to content

When Turkeys become Targets

April 14, 2008

Last week, I saw a wild turkey wandering around in a suburban area of our town.  Since this is the third full week of turkey season, I assume that this magnificent lady was dazed and confused.  I find it odd that hunting season for the wild turkey corresponds to the mating season for these spectacular birds.  I can think of no other wild game that is hunted during its reproductive season.  The hen I saw may have already lost her Tom.

Other wild turkey sightings in populated areas have been frequent. A flock of twenty or more scurried across Fernwood Drive near Lawson’s Fork Creek. A dozen of the birds showed up at the Emergency Room entrance to Mary Black Hospital. A doctor, an avid hunter, said, “The turkeys came to the ER because a gobbler had suffered a gunshot wound.”

A friend reported two hens crossing our church parking lot seeking sanctuary in a canebreak bordering the property. A resident of Duncan Park shared a tale of wild turkeys involving three hens and one Jake. Suffice it to say that with hunting season in full swing, there are fewer Toms to go around.

Last Thanksgiving I wrote in this column that Benjamin Franklin had many good ideas. He played a major role in crafting our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. However, the Philadelphia statesman had one very bad idea that could have altered the course of history.  Ben proposed to Congress that the wild turkey be designated as our national bird.

In their wisdom, Congress chose the bald eagle instead. Imagine how our lives might have been different if the turkey rather than the eagle had become our national symbol.

  • Our coins would display the image of a wild turkey instead of a bald eagle.
  • The professional football team in Ben Franklin’s City of Brotherly Love might not be the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Philadelphia Turkeys.
  • When the Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed on the surface of the moon, we might have heard, “Tranquility base here. The turkey has landed.”
  • The Boy Scouts of America would honor young men with the Turkey Scout Award.

We can all be glad that the eagle, rather than the turkey, is our emblem.

In 1976, the wild turkey was designated South Carolina’s official State Wild Game Bird. The turkey season, beginning on April Fools Day, might be controversial if camouflaged hunters, armed with turkey calls and rifles, were preying on our national bird.

I first heard a story from Dr. Alastair Walker about a pair of eagles who built their nest on a high cliff above a river bordered by dense woodlands.  The eggs in the eyrie hatched, producing two fine young eaglets.  Before they were able to fly, a ferocious storm swept the face of the rock cliff, demolishing the nest, plummeting the young eagles to the ground.

Talk about dazed and confused!  The young eaglets aimlessly wandered through the forest, obscured from the view of their parents frantically soaring above.

The eaglets stumbled upon a flock of wild turkeys.  A big Tom approached them, inviting them to join the flock.  The eagles traveled with the turkeys, roaming through the woods.  They ate acorns and hickory nuts, normal fare for turkeys, but not nearly as appetizing as the fish to which the eagles had grown accustomed.

One day as they were walking through the woods, they heard a voice above, “Whooo are you?”  On the limb of a tall white pine tree perched a wise old owl.  He repeated, “Whooo are you?”

An eaglet replied, “We are turkeys.  We live with turkeys.  We behave like turkeys.  We eat like turkeys.”

“No,” said the owl, “you are not turkeys.  You are eagles.  Be true to yourself.  Be eagles!”

“But we don’t know how to be eagles,” whined the young eagle.

The owl responded, “You will never be eagles as long as you act like turkeys.  Look to the eagles. Become what you were created to be.”

With that, the wise old owl pointed with his wing toward the sky.  Soaring high above were eagles, perhaps even the parents of the lost eaglets.

“Become like them,” instructed the owl.

One young eaglet hopped over to a fallen tree. He climbed up the trunk and out onto the highest branch.  There he spread his massive wings for the first time.  In one great moment of daring, he flapped those wings.  His feathers caught the air, and he rose in flight to join the other eagles high above.

The other young eagle watched as his sister soared out of sight, high above the trees, far above the rock cliff.  He thought to himself, I could never do that.  He looked down on the ground and pecked at an acorn.  He tried to make a sound, but it was not even a respectable gobble.

He continued to travel with the turkeys.  Then came hunting season.  Sadly, the young eagle never became who he was created to be.

We are all created in the image of God.  The Creator has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives.  To settle for anything less is to be like the eagle who acted like a turkey.

-Kirk H. Neely

© H-J Weekly, April 2008

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: