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Wild turkeys window shopping in Dayton

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Downtown Dayton, Wash., is a hot spot for wild turkeys, who apparently feel at home on Main Street even in the week before Thanksgiving.

Reports the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

This was the scene in downtown Dayton (Columbia County) this week.  Hunters are hoping at least some of these big birds "head for the hills" come Thursday, Nov. 20, when the late fall general either sex wild turkey hunting season opens in eastern WA game management units.

Details on that season here.

Wild turkeys are brooding below Mount Spokane

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Local birder/photographer Ron Dexter caught this wild turkey hen marching a newly hatched brood of eight chicks near his property at the foothills of Mount Spokane on Sunday.

Looks like they got through last week's cold and rain just fine.

Weather change: birds shifting gears from survival to procreation

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  This morning's sunshine — capping the past week of weather extremes —  seems to be bringing on an epidemic of spring fever.

A Mount Spokane landowner said he noticed the first bluebird of the season flying past his window this morning.

Within an hour, he emailed the photo (above) of wild turkeys that have been frequenting his yard for weeks. But today, love was in the air.

Just snapped this pic, first time this season I’ve seen them spread their feathers. There were 13 of them feeding and all of a sudden they started chasing one another in circles and back and forth, finally one stopped long enough to get a pic. Guess spring is really here!!!

Also, Melissa Rose in Ferry County reports:

We could sure tell the difference going out side this morning up here. While there had been very little bird sound/activity all winter this morning we experienced a riot of both!"

And this just came in from Spokane Audubon member Kim Thorburn

Yesterday morning when feeding the chickens, I caught a glimpse of an unusual bird hop up from the ground.  Expecting western bluebirds any moment, I went to inspect and found a lovely male spotted towhee.  While they breed in Riverside State Park nearby, I've only seen one previously in my yard during a fall migration.  He's also a bit early.  He spent the day foraging with the ga-zillion dark-eyed juncos underneath the feeder, escaping to our slash piles when necessary.  This morning, he's sunning himself atop our Colorado blue spruce, a favored songbird roost tree.
The western bluebirds (a pair) did arrive yesterday at 4:00 PM.  There was also a killdeer along the 9-Mile Reservoir in Riverside State Park.

Tundra swans are pouring into the region, hitting all of the open water from Lake Spokane to the Colville Valley and Pend Oreille River.

And this report just in from Ron Dexter, also in the Mount Spokane foothills:

This morning as I returned from getting our morning paper, I found a male Western Bluebird perched upon our 7 ft tall carved bear. I looked around and found the female on the TV antenna. I went into the house and walked over to the front window where I read the paper, and there on a Serviceberry bush just outside the window was our first of the year Say's Phoebe. The mate usually shows up in the next week or two.
Spring has sprung, I guess.

Turkey poaching least of crimes for bagged Okanogan felons

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Some creepy wild life is going on in remote areas of Okanogan County, although it's been thinned out in recent months by Fish and Wildlife cops.

Felons and a sex offender illegally possession firearms, running a still, whacking turkeys out of season — oh, my! — and they had the balls to get in the face of an undercover officer who was just out "minding his own business" on a public road?  

Law-abiding sportsmen will enjoy the following report on a satisfying bust by the WDFW.  Click continue reading….

How to deal with a wild turkey attack

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A hospital medical staff had a hoot overlooking this UPS driver's recent ordeal with a menacing wild turkey tom in Minnesota. 

Note to self: When sending important packages to turkey country, go with Fed-Ex.

Spring gobbler season underway

HUNTING — What are you doing on the fourth day of the spring gobbler hunting season in Washington and Idaho?

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson bagged this tom with his Canon.

Some turkeys survive opening day; some don’t

HUNTING — The first day of the spring gobbler hunting season is drawing to a close.

"I almost got my turkey today," said George Orr in a voicemail message just before the end of legal shooting hours.

"It ran right in front of me as I drove down Sunset Hill. That would be a hell of a way to start the turkey season, almost running over one."

Well, let's hope George shoots straighter than he drives, should he get the chance.

The season runs through May 25 in Idaho and through May 31 in Washington.

Giving thanks for wild turkeys

WILDLIFE — Wild turkeys adapted vigorously to introduction efforts throughout Idaho and much of Washington in the 1980s.  They're interesting, fun to hunt and delicious.  They're also fun to watch, as you can see in this short video from Idaho Fish and Game.

Talking wild turkey: snoods, wattles and the difference between white and dark meat

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The wild turkey is nothing like the fat, flightless Butterball you might be roasting today for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thank God.

The wild turkey is a fascinating survivor and a challenging quarry for hunters. It can run like the wind and fly with shocking power and speed. 

While it's delicious on the dinner table, it's a lean machine that must be prepared accordingly.

Get details about wild turkeys, including defininitions of snoods, wattles and the reason a turkey has white and dark meat on the eNature blog.

Spur of the moment: Turkey hunter scores big

HUNTING — Steve Solberg of Spokane was grousing in good humor on April 15 that he'd passed given his brother, Jeff, first shot at an opening day gobber then ended up coming home empty-handed himself.

"Seeing your brother finally bag a nice gobbler on opening day after 3 unsuccessful YEARS of hunting – priceless," he said.

"Passing up on an easy shot to let your brother score – stupid?

"Maybe, but it was just great being in the woods again. My bird is still out there.

"My time will come."

Indeed!  This week, Solberg's patience paide off with a bruiser tom.

"I was rewarded," he said in an email with the photo above. "This was my biggest bird ever."

The bird weighted more than 22 pounds, beard was 9 inches. But look at those spurs: 1-1/4 inches.

"Life is good!" Solberg said, noting that he has a placed pegged to take a kid this weekend.

Video: Local bowhunter shares turkey hunt

HUNTING — Taking a wild turkey gobbler can be difficult for a hunter with a shotgun, but think about the chances of spooking an incoming tom when you have to draw a bow.

Spokane-area hunter Chad Berry shows how it's done in a short, sweet video.

The spring gobbler season opened Sunday.

After years of gobbler seasons, they can still get better

HUNTING — At least 8 gobblers raising hell in every direction from my stand from 5:15 a.m. to 6:25 a.m. this morning, opening day of the spring wild turkey season. 

Then the woods virtually went silents — except for the damned flicker that kept coming by to drum on a nearby bird box and establish its territory.

At 7:25, my calls were answered in one of the best two minutes of turkey hunting in my career.

Shot this boy strutting with my decoy as at least three hens were within 15 feet of me. Had to wait a bit longer as a hen walked in at 10 feet and stopped with its head directly in line with the bead on my shotgun and the gobbler.

Could have bagged a second gobbler, but … naw.

Awesome morning of turkey hunting, just when I was thinking it was getting old.

The night before the hunt: Gobble, gobble

HUNTING — This is where I have permission to hunt for the spring gobbler season. Tomorrow morning, half an hour before sunrise: Game on!

Jake break: some turkeys safe from Sunday season opener

HUNTING — These wild turkeys feel free to trot through the Ponderosa neighborhood in Spokane Valley even though Washington's general turkey hunting season opens Sunday.

The front-runners are clearly jakes, as indicated by the short "beards" protruding from their breasts.

This little neighborhood parade (photo by Bob Bartlett) illustrates why non-hunters look at you like you're a nut when you get all loaded up with hundreds of dollars worth of equipment to go after a spring gobbler. 

NIBlogs: Jets & Sharks Meet In Alley?

After her Wednesday morning KVNI/ESPN 1080 radio show with Joe Paisley this morning, Kerri Thoreson drove to Sanders Beach and saw this scene. Kerri posts on her Facebook wall: "It must be mating season for turkeys, several big toms flashing their tail feathers were making their way through the neighborhood. I had to laugh when I looked down an alley and saw two rival "gangs" heading towards each other. Urban wildlife photography from the driver's seat is my specialty."

HucksOnline numbers (for Tuesday): 8875/5334, and (for Monday): 8846/5195

Question: Feel free to submit a cutline for the photo above.

Woman stalked by aggressive turkey

Godzilla, a wild turkey, walks around the front yard of the home belonging to Edna Geisler, 69 of Commerce Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Eric Seals)

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An Oakland County woman says she's become a prisoner on her own property, stalked and harassed by a 25-pound turkey.

Edna Geisler calls the foul bird "Godzilla." The 69-year-old told the Detroit Free Press that the turkey wanders near her Commerce Township property each day from nearby woods. She recently couldn't get to her front door after a trip to the grocery store.

"I have to go to the post office at 6 o'clock in the morning to avoid him," said Geisler, who has been bumped and clawed.

She has tried changing her schedule but this turkey is no dummy. A friend, Rick Reid, said the turkey went after him, too, when he opened the door on his minivan.

"He tried to come right in the door," Reid said. "He bit me on the elbow."

Indeed, a video posted online by the Free Press shows Godzilla roaming the grounds like they're his own. State wildlife expert Tim Payne said adult turkeys are known to aggressively defend their territory, although most fear people.

"This bird has probably attacked, and the person retreats," said Payne of the Department of Natural Resources. "What it tells the bird is, 'What I'm doing is good.' It reinforces the aggressive behavior."

Payne suggested Geisler open a large umbrella to drive the turkey back to the woods.

"Make some runs at the bird and become the aggressor," he said. "The bird needs to learn who's the boss."

Geisler wants the turkey gone by summer so she can work in her garden. The hunting season opens in April.

"Every time I eat turkey I smile," she said. "I'd like to do that to him."

Thanksgiving greeting from the game warden’s diary

Here are best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving in the form of a short story you'll find heartwarming, or perhaps a bit of a heartburn. It was passed on to me from a reader.

A game warden was driving down the road when he came upon a young boy carrying a wild turkey under his arm. He stopped and asked the boy, 'Where did you get that turkey?'

The boy replied, 'What turkey?'

The game warden said, 'That turkey you're carrying under your arm.'

The boy looks down and said, 'Well, lookee here, a turkey done roosted under my arm!'

The game warden said, 'Now look, you know turkey season is closed, so whatever you do to that turkey, I'm going to do to you.

If you break his leg, I'm gonna break your leg. If you break his wing, I'll break your arm. Whatever you do to him, I'll do to you. So, what are you gonna do with him?'

The little boy said, 'I guess I'll just kiss his butt and let him go!'

Marc Makes Thanksgiving Challenge

On his Facebook wall, Marc Stewart issued this challenge to his 547 friends: "I am challenging all my Facebook friends to go out and spend $20 at Wal-Mart or your favorite grocery story to buy a Thanksgiving dinner for a family less fortunate than you. The Coeur d'Alene-based food bank, called the Community Action Partnership Food Bank is short 3,000 turkeys. This is unacceptable. I took my 5-year-old son shopping and to the food bank to show him the importance of giving. He said, 'Daddy, how come people don't have the many foods.'"

Question: Up to the challenge?

Gobble, Gobble: One down, one to go

HUNTING — One could hear shots fired within minutes of after Washington's wild turkey hunting season opened this morning at 5:31 a.m.

One down, one to go for spring gobbler hunting on the East Side of the state.

It was beautiful out there.

Timely advice before wild turkey spring season opens Friday

HUNTING — Here are a few hunting basics to ponder before the spring wild turkey gobbler season opens Friday in Idaho and Washington.

The tips are from Mossy Oak pro staff member Mike Cockerham, who offers advice on scouting,
advance work and the preparation it takes to bag a spring gobbler:

Yes, this doesn't give you much chance to apply all the information before the season opens tomorrow, but many hunters believe the best time to lure in big gobblers isn't opening day, when they're firmly attached to hens, but rather later in the season when they're lonesome and looking again for love.

Read on for the Q & A.

Founding fathers had pecking order for national symbol

WILDLIFE"He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched in some dead tree where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing hawk and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish and is bearing it to his nest for his young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes the fish. With all this injustice, he is never in good case."

—Benjamin Franklin in 1782, explaining why he wished "the (bald) eagle had not been chosen as the representative of this country." Franklin had proposed the wild turkey for the national symbol.

Idaho youths get next shot at turkeys

HUNTING — Washington's youth wild turkey hunting season is history, and the general spring gobbler seasons don't open until April 15.

But Idaho youths under the age of 16 get their special turn at the toms starting Friday and running through April 14.

All youth hunters must have a valid hunting license and follow season rules, which can be found online on the Idaho Fish and Game website.

Turkey hunting requires special attention to safety in the field. Check out these tips.

P.S. Turkey Trot

"After trying to shoot a turkey picture early Wednesday morning (on Nils Rosdahl's property)," writes SR photographer Kathy Plonka in "Behind the Frame" blog, "I got frustrated and went back to the office. When I decided to give it another try I was greeted by these turkeys right near my car (on Milwaukie). Kind of funny and scary all at the same time." (You can read the story involving Nils here.) Also: This is probably the same batch of gobblers snapped by Dan Gookin in Fortgrounds today. Kathy told Huckleberries that the birds crossed Northwest Boulevard into Fortgrounds later.

Youth turkey hunt should be keyed to safety

HUNTING — Washington's youth turkey season runs Saturday-Sunday, giving kids mentored by adults a two-week headstart on the general season.

It's prime time for a hunting trip to be all about the kid, and all about safety.

Read on for 10 important safety tips from the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Spring turkey hunting starts this weekend — for youths

HUNTING — Kids under the age of 16 get the first shot at spring wild turkey hunting for gobblers.

  • Washington's youth turkey season is Saturday and Sunday.
  • Idaho's youth season runs April 8-14.

The general spring gobbler season opens April 15 in both states.

Get more information here.

Wild turkey pre-running Bloomsday course

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I'm a little late getting into the office today, distracted by a wild turkey crossing in front of the S-R building and heading west on Riverside Ave., across Monroe Street — traffic kindly giving it the right of way in a Spokane-friendly way.

It's a hen, gently yelping occasionally, seemly looking for love in all the wrong places.  It continued out Riverside when I realized it seemed to be checking out the Bloomsday course.

Last day to register for Bloomsday without a late fee is April 12.

First day of the spring wild turkey hunting season is Saturday for kids and April 15 for everybody else.

How old is that gobbler?

HUNTING — "I got a good 7-year-old bird," the camo-clad hunter proudly said when the wildlife biologist asked if he'd had any luck. When Joel Glover asked how the hunter knew the age of the bird, the Alabama biologist got a look of disdain as the hunter picked up the gobbler and thrust its legs forward so he could examine a nice set of spurs. "Sharp as a tack," he said.

Read on For Glover's explanation of aging wild turkey toms — and why hunters often are just blowing smoke when they brag about the age of their gobbler:

Gobble, gobble: Wild toms starting to strut

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The recent cold snap hasn't caused wild turkeys to forget it's time to start posturing for the breeding season.

This photo was snapped this morning by a reader who lives in the foothills of Mount Spokane.

"The rest of the group (hens and young jakes) had already come through," he said. "There must have been 30 or 35 of them. They have been hanging around on and off for a number of weeks.

"But this is the first day the toms have been together doing their thing."

The Naked Truth About Tom


Dear Ms. Millsap,
Several years ago you wrote an article in the Spokesman Review about your daughter and a picture of a turkey. I thought it was very funny and I gave copies to some of my friends. I even sent one to my 82 year old mother.
This year I lost that clipping and was hoping you could send me a copy.
Happy Turkey Day!

It happens every year. Each November somebody sends me a note like the one below. So here's a copy of the piece I'm most requested to read or share. I've come to think of as the Turkey Story:

November 23, 2006

Let’s all give thanks for the bird – and the bees


For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’ve been given, and savor the scents of crisp autumn days and pumpkin pie.

For me, it’s a little more complicated.

One November afternoon when my daughter was in kindergarten, I picked her up after school. She bobbed out to the car and crawled into the back seat.

“What did you do today?” I asked. She couldn’t wait to tell me.

“We learned that boys are different from girls,” she chirped.

Looking into the rearview mirror, I could just see the top of her head.

“My teacher told us that boys have a thing the girls don’t,” she added.

“Well, yes they do …,” I said cautiously.

I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so we were quiet for a moment. Then she piped up again. “That’s how girls know that boys are boys,” she said. “They see that thing that hangs down and they know that he is a boy.”

I mentally calculated the distance home. Our five-minute commute already felt like an hour.

“Did you know that when the boys see a girl they puff up?” My palms were beginning to sweat. “Um … well ….”

I was still searching for something new to say, to change the subject, when she asked, “Why do the girls like the boys to have those things?” Well I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what woman hasn’t asked herself that question at least once?

“Oh, well … um …,” I stammered.

She didn’t wait for my answer. She had her own. “It’s ‘cause it moves when they walk and then the girls see that and that’s when they know they are boys and that’s when they like them. Then the boy sees the girl and he puffs up, and then the girl knows he likes her, too. And then they get married. And then they get cooked.”

That last part confused me a bit, but on the whole I thought she had a pretty good grasp on things.

As soon as we got home and I pulled into the garage, she hopped out of the car, fishing something out of her school bag.

“I drew a picture,” she said. “Do you want to see?”

I wasn’t sure I did, but I looked at it anyway. I had to sit down.

There, all puffed up, so to speak, looking mighty attractive for the ladies, was a crayon drawing of a great big tom turkey. His snood, the thing that hangs down over his beak, the thing that female turkeys find so irresistible, was magnificent. His tail feathers were standing tall and proud.

She was a little offended that I laughed so hard at her drawing, and I laughed until I cried. But when I told her I loved it – and I did – she got over her pique.

That was the end of that, for her anyway. But I’m not so lucky.

Every year I remember that conversation.

And to be honest, I haven’t looked at a turkey, or a man, the same way since.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Obama pardons turkey and other T-Day readings

One of the great American Thanksgiving traditions occurred this morning, as President Obama pardoned a turkey presented to him from the turkey growers association.

Actually, he pardoned two. The winner of a national turkey competition, Apple, and understudy Cider. They’re off to Mount Vernon to live out their days in relative luxury, escaping the fate of winding up on the White House table tomorrow.

A copy of the president’s turkey pardoning declaration, fresh from the White House press office, can be found inside the blog. And a link can be found here to a story that suggests the whole basis of current presidents pardoning turkeys because Harry Truman did it back in 1947 is about as credible as Santa Claus.

Want to read more about Thanksgiving traditions and traditional myths. Check out this page at History News Network.