Eleven Tom turkeys greet me as I settle in by the Red River, and now 18 more turkeys go marching by at some distance in the winter wonderland of 14 inches of newly fallen snow. The wild turkeys are certainly on parade today in this bright winter sun.

Two of the Toms venture near me, about 12 feet to my left. They eye me a bit, but then go about their business when I don’t seem to offer any threat.

They strut around on some ground where the snow is beaten flat. Turkeys seem to prance (lift their foot a few inches at each step) as they walk, unlike many other animals. It looks like some unnecessary effort.

Is this prancing a residual from walking in the deep snow? I must note in the summertime if they prance in the same fashion.

American crow glides in in ghostly fashion and lands in the lower branches of the hackberry tree 10 yards in front of me. He seems well aware of me (I am likely the reason he flew in) but he postures a bland indifference as he perches sideways to me. I have trouble identifying what his black eye (in the middle of his black feathers) is doing, if it is gazing at me or not. I can tell much more easily what a turkey’s eye is doing, as he stands directly sideways to me and takes me in.

A second and third crow sail in and land in a nearby maple tree. They are all silent as ghosts. What is this all about? Has the first silently signaled the others and bid them join him? And now, as if on cue, all three of them take flight, and disappear over the tree-tops.

A whitetail doe appears through a cedar copse 10yards to my right. She walks quietly (well, don’t they always walk quietly?) forward, more fully into my view. Her slow walk, as if she were about some other business that doesn’t involve me, suggests that she has known of my presence some minutes before I discovered her, and is just moving on.

A frisky yearling come into view behind her, tumbling about with the usual adolescent lack of dignity. He seems to know I’m here, but doesn’t seem to care, as long as Mom doesn’t care.

My how they are both beautifully feathered out in their winter wear of fur. It’s as if they’ve donned a new garb for the winter season.

We’ve had a spell of sub-zero weather, and it seems as if the season bids the creatures don a new garment. I am noticing it in these deer, as I compare them to their appearance in their warm weather garb. It looks fresh and wonderful. Perhaps in this season we northerners all don fresh garments to welcome the New Year.

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.


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