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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Burt Likko
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    I’ve spotted turkey wandering about the forest when I lived in Tennessee. Intellectually, I knew they were large birds but… Wow.

    Foxes are cool to see. I saw a desert fox for a second one night and wrote a whole post about it here, it was so cool. Seems like foxes are making a big comeback across North America… Or is it that they’re being driven into more urban areas and thus getting more press?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Burt Likko
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      In KY we’re actually finding that foxes are being squeezed out by coyotes. I used to see a lot more when I was a kid.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        Do you know if you’ve got western or eastern coyotes?

        There was no such thing as ‘eastern coyotes’ 100 years ago; they’re a split in the coyote family that took advantage of the hole left in the food web as we got rid of wolves. Eastern coyote are small and hunt in smaller packs. They’ve pretty much wiped out the wild rabbit population, and I suspect the ground hog population, though I haven’t heard much talk of that. (I also see fewer ground hogs or ground hog dens). They are a good control for raccoons; but they do seem to be taking a heavy toll on fox populations and I’d suspect on cats in suburban areas.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        zic,
        Welp, I can’t say I’m seeing what you’re seeing around Pittsburgh proper.
        We got habituated raccoons out in broad daylight, plenty of groundhogs (dangerous buggers even if you don’t get near them, they can undermine an entire hillside). We have coyotes nearabouts, but they aren’t really prevalent yet.

        Had turkey in our backyard, and once saw a red fox pair in the park.

        But the deer are the real problem.Report

  2. Avatar zic
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    I never witnessed a wild turkey as a child in the northeast; the population had been long since wiped out — I presume from some combination of hunting and DDT.

    (In general, I should note that the bird populations in general were in decline in my child hood; the silent springs Rachel Carson described really were silent. I remember returning home for a visit in May in the early 1980’s, and being stunned at how loud the bird song was. I mentioned it to my mother, and she cried, this was what she’d remembered.)

    Today, wild turkeys are common. I’ve had them in my back yard most of the winter; particularly when the snow was deep; scratching through it to reveal apples on the ground. I used to want them all cleaned up in the fall, after this winter, I’ll be much more generous with what I leave behind.

    Turkeys are huge; we hit one once on the Mass Pike in the Berkshires. Did serious damage to our car. They’re also skittish, their movement on the ground reminds me of Goofy.

    Their habitat is far flung; we think of them as American, but turkey habitat extends all the way down to the Yucatan peninsula. In Belize, I had a dish made from wild turkey by a Mayan woman. Her kitchen was open, the chickens she kept would wander in and out. Her stove was a giant mass of stones, about the size and shape of a coffin, with a fire place on the windward side. Her fuel were long saplings and branches, they could lie on the rest of the stones, so that she didn’t need to cut them smaller, she could just feed them into the fire as they burnt down. The cooking surface was a grate, and she had a few iron pots and a flat and a curved grill. The turkey, she cooked in a pot in coconut milk, and then finished over the open flame. It was redolent with coconut, fruit, and herbs — a bitter herb that I suspect was epazote.

    And domesticated turkeys are dumb. They will, if left to their own devices, stand in the rain with their faces pointing up and their beaks open until they drown. Domestication may be a great survival and spreading strategy for many species, but for the Turkey, the result is an epic fail in character.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to zic
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      Zic,

      When I was in high school and we first started hunting turkeys the regulations were incredibly strict. We could only hunt in certain parts of certain counties and the limit was one turkey per year. Now I can kill 4. It is a real success story with the restoration of eastern turkeys in the U.S.

      My dream is to shoot the North American Turkey Grand Slam eventually. I already have the Eastern. I need the Rio Grande, Merriam’s and Osceola.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    We have wild turkeys by work. Ugly bastards. And annoying.Report

  4. Avatar johanna
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    Recently while driving through my neighborhood a turkey (I had no idea what it was at first) landed on the street in front of my car and started running down the street in front of me until it cut off into a small residential park. We followed that fast running bugger by car while it high-tailed it down the sidewalk and through the park turning enough for me to confirm it was a turkey just before disappearing into a neighbor’s backyard. I had never seen one in town before that and had no idea how fast they are. I actually see them quite often whenever I am out of the city. I don’t ever remember seeing even a single wild turkey growing up and looked up my old town to see if it is even turkey habitat. Well they may or may not have been around when I grew up but it appears they are not rare there now.Report

  5. Avatar Patrick
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    Near the in-laws’ place in Montana is the town graveyard, and the road that runs underneath the ridge it sits on has a dirt embankment that’s probably about 4, 5 feet high on one side. A couple of years ago a fox set up a den in there and had kits. We saw them on a walk down the road, seriously cute. Haven’t seen ’em since, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were trapped, that close to town and people’s chickens.

    Last year we saw deer on the property almost every day. One even took a stroll across the highway in the middle of the day. I’m wondering if they’re going to lift the CSKT-only shooting rules or something, they’re starting to become seriously dangerous, there’s so many of ’em.

    While fishing below the dam last year, we were parked right under an osprey nest, which is always something to see.

    Then at one point I crossed a bridge from my fishing partner because there weren’t two good spots near each other, climbed back down the embankment, and strolled up the rock riverbed maybe four or five hundred yards. I just got my line in the water when I saw a bear. He was maybe a quarter mile down the river on the same side of the river as I was. When he decided to stroll back up into the bushes where I couldn’t see him, I decided to hike back to the other side of the river. Rather than walk back up the rocky riverbed, I went about 30 feet away from the river where it was grassy, and the whole way back to the bridge I was dancing between big piles of bear crap. Which made me nervous the whole way, lemme tell you. One splat of bear spoor is one thing, when it’s all over the place you know you’re in big daddy’s home turf and that’s not ever where I wanna be tromping around by myself…Report

  6. Avatar North
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    says:

    What I’d really like to hear about is wild turkey flavor and consistency vs domesticated turkey flavor and consistency. Are we talking about a bird that tastes pretty much like the domesticated one but tougher and more stringy? If so I can probably rest content in having not tasted one. Or does the wild turkey have a more complicated flavor? If so I absolutely must try some since I love the flavor of ordinary turkey and would be fascinated to try some variations. Also does wild turkey freeze well? Maybe I could find it at some hunting store. Would rural Minnesotan hunters have some available? To google!

    C’mon Mike, Zic, help me out here. How are these big wild walking birds when it comes to the subject of eatin?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North
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      North,

      Wild turkey varies in flavor a bit depending on where you hunt and the time of year. In the spring they are typically eating a lot of grasses, bugs, and any grains they can scratch out in fields. I find that the meat is pretty close to a domestic turkey at that time though it is more lean and can be a bit tough if you’re not careful when you cook it. I have heard that doing a confit with the legs is fantastic though I haven’t tried it yet.

      In the fall turkeys fatten up for the winter and also eat a lot more grains (cut corn fields provide plenty of food) and they also eat a lot of acorns. This gives the meat a more ‘wild’ flavor though it is still not what I would call gamey. I find that of all the animals I hunt wild turkey is the most similar to domestic meat.

      It does freeze well though you cannot find wild turkey in a store as it would be illegal to sell it.Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy
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    When are we going to start talking about the bourbon?Report

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