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Some Musings on Urban Turkeys

gobbler on street

It just seems weird to see a gobbler cross a city street.

Call me a purist, but it just doesn’t seem right to talk about urban turkeys.

After all, turkeys are the wildest of wild creatures; a bird that can see you shift your gun barrel 125 yards away and be out of sight before you can cuss.

But like it or not, turkeys have become increasingly common in urban and suburban settings. They’re far more adaptable than we gave them credit for during the restoration era. Like whitetails, Canada geese and park mallards, some turkeys have learned that they’re safe in parks, neighborhoods and other inhabited areas.

The good news is that you can hunt turkeys in many suburban areas across the country. I’ve taken a couple of Osceolas from less-than-remote spots. One was actually in an acquaintance’s back yard, which bordered a turkey-rich wildlife preserve. The other was on the edge of an industrial park on the outskirts of a small city. Both gobblers were 100 percent wild.

The down side of urban turkeys — for me, at least — is that they detract a bit from the lore and mystique of the wild turkey. When urban yuppies see fearless turkeys traipsing around a city park, or when old ladies take photos of a longbeard strutting on their decks, it dulls the sense of mystery and awe surrounding America’s greatest bird.

That really shouldn’t bother me. After all, the vast majority of turkeys in America are still in wild rural areas. And turkey hunters know that a gobbler on the streets of Long Island has little in common with the frustrating bird they chase in Pennsylvania or Missouri.

Still, when I think of wild turkeys, I’d rather envision long hardwood ridges or vast open prairies, not manicured parks or strip malls.

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