That time I should’ve called for back-up when talking turkey

During this morning’s editorial meeting, I was once again given the assignment of visiting a local turkey farm to write up a special Thanksgiving piece. If it goes anything like last year’s visit, “special” isn’t really the right word. [Cue gauzy dream sequence and harp music]…

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.

But I’ll be wearing an athletic cup…


image(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. This has been an excerpt from his book, Humor at the Speed of Life, available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)


Published by

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...

58 thoughts on “That time I should’ve called for back-up when talking turkey”

        1. I don’t know what happened. Something went awry, Or afowl. Or whatever. But yes, turkeys are not nice. And they are territorial. And by that, I mean they attack your private territory…

  1. Birds can be scary and mean. Geese and swans with their long snake-necks can send most anybody running. I was attacked by a fighting rooster… (insert bad cock joke here)… walking through the cemetery on my way to school when I was a teen. That thing weighed all of 3 or so pounds, and it scared the… snot… out of me. It had those mean-looking barbs on the back of its legs. I think they are called spurs. It kept charging and then jumping at me, bending its legs up to point the spurs at me. Fortunately, it was winter in the Bay Area and I had an umbrella, which I opened and used it to shove the little bastard up against the fence as I ran by. But that thing did not back down. I heard later that it attacked everybody that walked by for a few days.

  2. The turkey eventually gets revenge for now digested in your body his cells reproduce and slowly you talk and walk turkey. Age gives you a turkey neck. And many have laid an egg.

  3. Hi, Ned! Funny, funny stuff! Welcome to NSNC. I tried to repost your T-Giving post, but my computer is very angry at me and won’t cooperate. I will send a friend request – maybe that will help. Anyway – it is an honor to have you among our ranks!

  4. I’m sorry to say that this greatly amused me. As a fellow chicken-legger, you would have thought that I’d have a bit more sympathy ready, but apparently not! But thanks for the heads-up, at least your readers have been kept abreast of the dangers of turkey farms…

  5. Oh dear, I can’t stop laughing!

    The Husband was a poultry farmer (yes, I married Farmer Brown…really!), based on years of experience, says that there is very good reason for the expression “bird brain”. And that applies, regardless of the fowl – turkey, ostrich or sparrow. I mention the last because we have had a succession of cock sparrows (note it’s only the male of the species) that beat their brains out admiring themselves in their reflections on the shiny cowl of the chimney. Either that, or the thinks he has competition from the fellow in the chimney. The hen checks on him from time to time and it’s evident that she doesn’t understand…

    Draw your own conclusions…..

  6. When I was in 4th grade, I lived on a farm and these two geese used to chase anyone who walked near the barn (which is where my parents parked their cars). They’d stand right outside the car doors and stare into the windows. Terrified me. This story gave me PTSD flashbacks.

    1. Geese are mean. Period. Sorry for the flashback, but if it’s any consolation there’s a reason they say “Your goose is cooked.” I’m sure they got theirs….

No one is watching, I swear...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s