Life on the Wild Side

When I first thought about moving to a small town, images of rocking chairs, ice cold lemonade, and friendly neighbors came to mind. And indeed, I found life was slower, I made more friends in a few years than I had in decades of living in a big city, and nothing blocked the stars in the sky.

What I didn’t expect was some of my new neighbors. 

The first new neighbors appeared across the street, enjoying the open land around the hospital, usually a herd of five – a couple of does and their fawn. Then they started roaming the neighborhood. 

The first time Audrey and I walked around the neighborhood, the deer took off. I never knew deer hopped. The second time, we all saw each other and stopped. A Mexican standoff. Or maybe it was a Buffalo standoff. Audrey finally got bored and woofed a few times. We started walking and made a wide circle around the deer while they watched us. After that, the deer simply looked up as we walked, then went back to doing deer things.

I met our most recent new neighbors, 14 of them, when I took Audrey on a walk around the hospital. Wild turkey. Those birds are big and ugly. With an I-own-the-world attitude (they stop traffic when they walk across one of the two major streets). I find them endearing. And I’m probably in the minority.

One of my dear friends told me that when she lived in Story, Wyoming, lots of wild turkey used to pass through her property every day. When she watered her garden, and the water hose was stretched out, they wouldn’t step across it. They would run up and down the length of the hose, and finally go back the way they came. 

I was talking about our wild turkey at my favorite restaurant at the Buffalo golf course. A man I hadn’t seen before turned around. He lived in Story, and asked me if I knew what they called wild turkey there.

Speed bumps.

Like the deer, the wild turkey have taken to walking around the neighborhood, leaving a trail of turkey poop. One time I was walking Audrey, and we came upon a wild turkey walking around a neighbor’s tree. Audrey and I stopped and watched the turkey strut around in a circle (making us a couple of turkey). 

The tree was making some very un-treelike sounds. It occurred to me that the turkey was protecting his flock up in the tree. Audrey and I were lucky not to be rained on with turkey droppings.

But last night was my most memorable wild turkey encounter. My husband was driving down our street when a couple of those wild turkey jumped in front of our truck and ran their little tail
feathers off, while several other wild turkey ran beside us.

Meanwhile, I calmly grabbed the dashboard.

My husband looked at me (who says men can’t multi-task?) and said, “Don’t worry, I see the turkey.”

I replied, “But can they see you?”

I hear that wild turkey are good eating, although I’m not certain it’s legal to kill them with a truck in town. Luckily or unluckily, we never found out.


  1. The turkeys here are just as self-assured. One evening I came home to find something like two dozen turkeys gathered near the entrance to the condo where I was living. It was not a big deal until one of them, probably the leader, chose to take off. It was the first time I'd ever seen a turkey fly, and I was really shocked to see how big they are. When it flew overhead, I could definitely feel the downdraft from its wings.

  2. I wanted to share this comment sent to me from the Cottonwood Woman:

    Two thoughts about turkeys: this past spring I read a poem that described them as "Cantilevered question marks" As my own experience with their flying: they took running starts in our backyard and launched themselves into the cottonwoods like footballs with legs--punted into the trees.

  3. Pictures! Great story, thank you Nolcha.

    1. I entered three pictures, taken today as we were coming back from lunch. Silly birds.

  4. "Life on the Wild Side" is now a Letter to the Editor in the Buffalo Bulletin!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts