It seems to me that the wild turkey has enjoyed a spectacular resurgence in the Great Lakes region. I can recall how rare turkey sightings were considered when I was a child. In just the last decade the likelihood of spotting turkeys on the way from my house to my mother-in-law's just twenty minutes or so away has gone from zero to maybe one in five. The same appears to be true of the area around Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore as well.
A couple of years ago I was traveling from Tecumseh to Dayton. We stopped at a rest area to take break and get some snacks. It was one of the older areas which had the original bathroom building with no lobby to speak of. Later on the highway department added a small building to house vending machines located a few yards from the bathroom building, behind which was a flock of turkeys made up of hens, immature birds, and a Christmas-banquet sized tom.
We used the bathrooms, then went to the vending building. The turkeys watched us, but stayed back. When we stepped out of the vending area we found that the sidewalk was blocked by turkeys. The tom stood directly in the path, not three feet from the door-and would not be moved. All he needed was a leather coat and a switchblade to fit right into a bad 60s outlaw biker movie-and I really didn't like the way he was looking at my zipper.
I am proud to say that I didn't surrender to the little poultry-fascist terrorist. We carefully and slowly went around him while he rattled his feathers and puffed himself up.
Dale Austin, June, 2008
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008