Now there is a sight I haven’t seen that before! A flock of 17 wild turkeys came across the snow out of the woods to my left, and suddenly a hen took flight from among them and flew up onto a lower limb of a hackberry tree to my right.
That obviously happens from time to time, but I just don’t happen to have seen it. What is she up to?
She turns around and faces the flock from the limb, as if she were about to address them. They are about 20 feet in front of me, so I can watch them plainly.
Is she posting herself? Is she inviting them up? They don’t watch her, but they seem restless. And she is restless. She attempts a flight to another limb, unsuccessfully, and she flutters to the ground.
I had seen no sign of any turkeys since I first arrived, except for a few of their track-trails in the fresh snow. Once again I was set to pondering where I might find their bedding ground.
I consider a known bedding ground to my right, and decide to craftily steal up to it, being careful to check for any lookout posted above in the trees, which had surprised me last year when I had tried to creep up on them. I found no sign of life down in the bedding ground. Quite apparently they must bed down elsewhere, perhaps under a bridge over the Red River, where it is dry and out of the wind, and where it was quite suitable during the recent snowfall.
Suddenly a handsome five-point buck comes into sight about 50 feet in front of me. He is nosing around on the ground after something.
He pays no attention to me, which suggests that he’d been watching me before I saw him, and decided I posed no threat, so he’d gone about his business.
Now a three point buck joins him. This one leaps easily overt a brush pile pushed up by some river flood and comes in and joins the five-point.
And doesn’t this beat all: here comes a two-point buck to join them, and then here comes my three-legged friend that I mentioned at Christmas. This must be men’s night on the prancing ground. My three legged friend (one hind leg hangs uselessly behind him) is apparently going to make it through another winter. He is a survivor.
The depth of snow offers a bit of a challenge for him now. That left hind leg now must hoist his entire hind end up and forward alone as he lurches forward.
I wonder if there is comfort in numbers. A badly lamed deer would offer a target for predators. Perhaps the predator would think twice about coming in among several healthy bucks who faced him. The lame buck goes on for another winter. Happy New Year, my friend.
James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.