Let’s talk turkey
by Roger Goulet
I have no idea what made our “backyard” (“clearing” would be a better word) the go-to place for the Westford Street Rafters. That would be the group of wild turkeys that has taken control of the woods surrounding our house. I guess it’s not that much of a puzzlement after all. Houses out here are comparatively few and we haven’t seen or heard a dog in years.
Hemingway told us that lions were wary of Land Rovers but not frightened. Only when a human detached itself did they bolt. I’ve driven up and down the driveway with turkeys grudgingly stepping away from my barely-revolving wheels. Yet if anyone goes out the front door a whole yardful melts away into the forest.
It would take a turkey sociologist to explain why ours are so lacking in ‘tude compared with urban gobblers, notably in Brookline, who regularly terrorize pedestrians, face down residents trying to go in their front doors and peck at their own reflections in hubcaps. But apart from vegetarians, who of you, observing a hefty tom with fluffed-up feathers, flapping wings, crimson wattles and a comically spread tail, has not had a mental image of that bad boy hot from the oven, stuffed with apples and onions and cloaked in crispy bacon to ensure moistness? Not us, that’s for sure.
It is possible to hunt wild turkeys here, although, this being Massachusetts, the regulations are almost as complex and detailed as those governing household waste disposal in Concord. The trouble is, the law assumes you’re using some kind of gun or bow and arrow, and we have neither. How could we harvest our 25-pound Tom? A slingshot? We found one lying around and practiced with it, but since we could not reliably hit a large tree from 25 feet away, the odds of hitting the small moving head of a turkey from any distance other than point-blank range seemed slim.
All right, how about guile? Someone conceals him or herself in the woodpile, armed with a long fishing pole with a noose instead of a hook at the end. Put a pile of corn nearby, and at the right moment, slip the loop over the turkey’s head and pull. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out using bait to hunt turkeys is illegal. More burdensome regulations!
And then it hit us—use the turkeys’ blind spot against them. If they’re not afraid of cars, then attack from the car. The key would be to keep a net in the car at all times. When a flock is in the driveway, the driver goes slowly and the passenger suddenly flings open the door, throws the net over the turkey and pulls it tight. Of course there will be a fight—these are big, strong birds. But for someone like me who hunted partridges and pheasants in Minnesota, dispatching a game bird holds no terrors. Other household members are ready to plunge the carcass into hot water and pluck off the feathers. Then I disembowel the creature, and Bob’s your uncle!
Now it only remains to find a net.“Alexa . . .”