Always call for back-up when talking turkey

image Over the weekend, I was the victim of an unprovoked and extremely frightening turkey attack. In my defense, there were five of them (technically known as a “gang” of turkeys) involved in the assault, which started because of my proximity to a preening female turkey, which had apparently snubbed her suitors in favor of me.

Possibly because she was confused by my chicken legs.

Whatever the reason, the male turkeys didn’t take well to this and decided the best way to handle the situation was to join forces and, one by one, take turns flapping their giant wings at my [censored]. Before I knew it, I was being circled by an agitated turkey gang and wishing my editor had assigned me to something less dangerous, like covering a Blind Axe Throwers convention.

The reason I was in this situation was because I’m a journalist committed to getting the story. Even if it means risking my own safety by putting myself in harm’s way on the front lines.

OK, so it was a turkey farm.

And I was under the watchful eye of a highly capable turkey wrangler named Dirk; a man confident in his ability to “throw down” against even the largest bird, including, once, a stray ostrich that had gotten confused and wandered over from a nearby farm. As Dirk explained, he knew something was wrong almost immediately when he noticed, “One of the turkeys looked way too big.”

That’s when he swung into action and, drawing on years of wrangling experience, diffused the situation by calmly approaching the bird, gaining its trust… and then suddenly throwing it into a headlock.

“When I woke up, the ostrich was gone,” said Dirk.

Secure in the knowledge that my back was covered by Dirk the Turkey Wrangler, I had entered the large pen of turkeys in hopes of getting firsthand experience, which I could use to enhance my story, or possibly my obituary, depending on how quickly things deteriorated. I should mention that I had been made aware of the potential dangers that arise when turkeys adopt a mob mentality, then signed a waver releasing the farm of any liability should I be: Injured or otherwise decapitated.

“Don’t you mean ‘incapacitated?” I asked.

“Yeah — that, too,” said Dirk.

Standing in the middle of the pen a short time later, the turkeys didn’t seem to be paying much attention to me. This prompted me to engage them so I could get a better feel for their personalities. I crouched; bobbed my head; gobbled a little.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Dirk.

At that very instant one turkey extended its head above the others.

“Yirp. Yirp. Yirp.”

As I discovered, this is turkey talk for, “Just because we are two completely different species doesn’t mean we can’t be lovers.”

I suddenly realized I had the attention of every turkey in the pen, particularly five who had been strutting around, chests puffed out, trying to win the affections of “Lucy.”

“Uhhhm, too late,” Dirk said helpfully. “Cover your privates.”


Next thing I knew, I was surrounded, dust and feathers flying.

I obviously survived, thanks in part to Dirk’s quick thinking, which was to yell “Get out of there — but keep your privates covered!” over and over until I could get back to the gate.

Admittedly, the experience left me shaken but it won’t keep me from having turkey this Thanksgiving. Some day, I even hope to do so without wearing an athletic cup.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

75 thoughts on “Always call for back-up when talking turkey”

  1. Centuries ago, a Chinese friend of mine invited me to a family dinner where, among the many delicious items, he served chickens’ feet (I guess if he’ll serve me, he’ll serve anybody).
    For the uninitiated, chickens’ feet is not a delightful nickname for some exotic construction of bamboo shoots and gelatin powder (ironically, horse’s feet), but rather the feet of chickens.
    Now, I already have problems eating chicken wings…so much work for so little meat. Well, chickens’ feet are all the agony of a chicken wing sans the meat. So, I already was unimpressed.
    Making matters worse, however, was the chickens were just as disinclined to be eaten as I was to eat them, for as I looked down upon the bowl, I was presented with a dozen or so clawed fists, talons extended to scratch my eyes out or anything else that approached the bowl.
    And when I say talons, I’m not talking the beautifully manicured hands of a lovely woman (which can inflict plenty of damage). No, I’m talking the rapier claws tested on the set of Jurassic Park that caused Spielberg to blanch and say from under his director’s chair: ”Nah, too scary for the kids.”
    Despite watching my friends take great pleasure in popping the chickens’ feet into their mouths and spitting out an archeologist’s Erector Set (can only imagine what they’d do with a fully assembled table from Ikea), I made a vow that day.
    I will never eat a food that is still actively defending itself! (So keep fighting the good fight, calamari and octopus.)

  2. While Googling your predicament I came across the following headline that may serve to shed some light on the situation.

    Turkey: “This is a Revolt, Not Yet a Revolution!” – So this seems to suggest that this pecker to pecker skirmish may only be the tip of the (put some) ice (on it) bird.

    Next time you find yourself staring down the business end of an irate gang of Meleagris gallopavo just tell them to “Stuff It!” I think that will get through to their noodles. They should just waddle off…

    Another feather in your cap Ned.

  3. Turkeys are mean but stupid, so if you’re fortunate enough to be caught in a downpour with them, just point to the sky and they’ll all look up and drown where they stand. They never ever learn. Don’t ditch the cup yet, though, there’s always an outlier over by the gate. Happy Thanksgiving in advance, just in case things don’t go your way …

      1. We must use every weapon at our disposal at all times. In fact, a disposal might be just the ticket — their little pinheads would fit right in there. Don’t think about it too long or Thanksgiving will start to take on unfortunate connotations for you.

          1. Oh, you know it, bro. The Indians were clever in that they’d had the forethought to befriend the vicious turkeys in their vicinity, as only they could do, so by the time those sails appeared on the horizon they had a gang of ridiculous-looking followers ready to pounce. Or at least peck. And then when those poor unsuspecting Pilgrims dozed off from the tryptophan, they instantly became sitting ducks. But not chicken. See what a rich heritage we celebrate?

  4. Turkeys are like sheep in that when one does something, they all follow, so it’s a good thing you didn’t decide to give that first interested turkey what it wanted, just to keep it quiet, because, well, you can imagine…

  5. When I first started reading this, I thought for sure you were going to tell us about an incident in the grocery store where a frozen turkey got the better of you. Maybe that story is reserved for a time closer to Thanksgiving?

  6. So many things I want to write… but I’ll limit myself to 3!

    First… my kids loved the picture… “Go back to the bird mom… go back to the bird!!”

    Second… “Hey baby…female turkeys are attracted to me”… great pick up line! Good thing a woman has already taken you in 😉

    Third… “Get out of there — but keep your privates covered!” is always sound advice! For both genders!!!

    1. I’m so glad your kids like the picture, which validates my decision to NOT go with the one of my privates getting attacked. No child should have to see that. Or grown man. 😉

  7. Birds are evil, evil creatures. Just yesterday two Blue Herons came at me for taking their picture. I tried to explain I was simply a fan, but they took me for paparazzi and I had to run for my life.

  8. due to your close brush with death by turkey, and the upcoming onset of your ptsd, i’m assuming you’ll be serving a lovely tofurkey at your table this year.

  9. “I done told him to cover his privates. Them turkeys love pecking at privates. Won’t ever touch a corporal, but they sure hates them privates.”

  10. You’re like one of those embedded reporters in Iraq, going anywhere to get the story. Interestingly, I’ve found the phrase “Get out of there — but keep your privates covered!” applicable in many situations.

  11. Ha! A bit of pent-up turkey frustration perhaps? When we go to Bubba’s farm to pick veggies, we do not take his toms for granted. I generally like to keep a metal pole or shovel handy…’cause ya never know. Thank goodness I have no nuggets as targets.

    Sounds like an awesome job you have there. I hope you didn’t bust any stitches running for your life.

No one is watching, I swear...

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