Author -- Joe Hutto
Reviewed on Jan. 12, 2002 - Rob Ramsdale
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.
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.