Last week the road south was sunny and warm, no rain in sight. That was to change, again. I rounded a corner and there, in the middle of the road, stood four tom turkeys. The boys were in no particular hurry to move on, so I crept the truck a bit closer. The alpha male stretched out his neck and gave me a warning gobble. His next move was to approach the front bumper and fan out his feathers. He doubled in size as he tried to stare downthe turkey that was reflected in the chrome bumper of my truck. That reflected turkey didn’t back down one bit, the only thing to do was to give him a nasty peck. The old boy backed off some with a sore beak. He shook it off and fanned his feathers again, lowered his head and did a ritual dance. His feet drumming the pavement in a dire warning to that mean old tom reflected in the bumper. It ended in a clash of beaks and a flash of sharp spurs slashing at the other bird. He backed off again and realized his pals, the other three, with a somewhat better perspective, had moseyed off the road and were working their way up the bank. When the old moss-back got his bearings, he started off the road, his dignity intact. Once they were safely reunited, I had to do it, a loud whistle out the window got them all to stretch their necks and gobble a return challenge to my noise.
Is human romance any different? Observe the display rituals at the mall or at a school event, age twelve and up. The girls preen and feign indifference and the boys cocky around and flex. The radical hair designs of the boys (they lack true feathers) and the tough talk sounds like a gobble at times. It all looks like the exercise is a common experience among both parties.
This weekend is the wild turkey opener for our area. If you have yet to bag a tom turkey you are missing out. Many years ago there were so few turkeys it was illegal to shoot them. Those days are long gone. Turkeys seem to be everywhere and the bag limits are creeping up each year. Be sure you read the rules on the DFW web site and comply carefully, fines can be high. Hide yourself and wear camo, the birds have excellent vision. If you have one, set out a couple of hen decoys and one big rubber tom. Get into your blind and think about how you are going to pull up and shoot when the time comes. The birds are wary and easily spooked. Get advice, turkey calls, camo, ammo and a new license at your favorite big sportsmen’s store, which you can bag very near the In and Out Hamburger in Rohnert Park.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.