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Wild Turkey -- Book Review - Illuminations in the Flatwoods - Joe Hutto

Illumination in the Flatwoods
Author -- Joe Hutto
Reviewed on Jan. 12, 2002 - Rob Ramsdale

Although this book has been out for quite a few years, it is one of my favorites and I wanted to share some of what it contains.

This is a different kind of book on the wild turkey. Many books have explained the habits and life history of the wild turkey but none have given a first-hand account quite like this one. Joe Hutto, a wildlife artist from Florida, was given the rare opportunity to raise wild turkeys from chicks. A few wild turkey eggs had been exposed by a tractor mowing over their nest and he took on the task, which eventually turned into a full-time job, of raising more than 20 turkey chicks.

Raising the turkey chicks through their tumultuous first year became more than a job and instead a transforming experience for Hutto. He became extremely involved in the chicks' lives and made sure he became imprinted as the "parent" by being with the chicks as much as possible. Hutto first made sure that he was the first sight each chick saw when it hatched, thus "imprinting" him as parent and protector.

Hutto would spend each day out and about as a "wild turkey" with his family of chicks. They bond with him just as they would have with a hen and climb over him and fall asleep in his lap. They also let him know they don't like his red or purple shirt and they aren't too crazy about his beige shirt either. He becomes totally ingrained in their eyes as their "mother" and he starts becoming as much of a wild turkey as a man is able.

With all of this comes many of the same experiences and emotions of all parenthood. They are always happy to see him and he feels pride in their growth and development. Along with all of the good times are the inevitable tragedies.

Hutto had the unique experience of seeing up close the turkeys reactions to predators and danger. He first builds a pen out of small-mesh wire for them to be safe in, but it doesn't protect them from a rat snake that slithers through one afternoon to kill one, or from a weasel that takes three in a nocturnal raid. Red-shouldered hawks are a constant menace, and the young turkeys show an intense interest in anything in the sky, even taking note of planes a mile overhead.

Inevitably,  Hutto has to let his children grow up and go off on their own. It is, at best, a difficult task and  it turns out to be harder than he ever imagined. By this time he's become about as close to being a turkey in human skin as nature permits — "I haven't started eating grasshoppers yet, but the smooth green ones, I notice, are beginning to look very attractive." The day comes when they decide against returning to the pen and soon they're not following him anymore.  Hutto was left with literally an empty nest but undoubtedly much richer from the experience.

This book is available at Amazon.com, Click below for information on ordering. 

Illumination in the Flatwoods : A Season With the Wild Turkey
List Price: $16.95 -- Our Price: $11.87
You Save: $5.08 (30%)

Author: Joe Hutto
Paperback - 288 pages Reprint edition (Oct. 1998)



Turkey and Turkey Hunting Turkey and Turkey Hunting --- Only $14.95

Turkey & Turkey Hunting Magazine focuses on turkey hunting techniques, turkey behavior and biology, the latest wild turkey research for hunters, equipment, destinations, and hunting ethics.


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