For several years I’ve tried to photograph wild turkeys with very limited success. Following up on hints from my sources, it’s been a turkey chase of biblical proportions to say the least. Jackson reservoir, out east, has been on my tracking radar many times, but as fate would have it, it’s always the same old story. “You should have been here yesterday. There were three big Tom’s (that’s a male bird) strutting (that’s when they spread their tail feathers to impress the girls) but who knows where they are today.” More research has taken me to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Last year after much hiking and driving, we found some Toms on private property. We talked to the land owners and they promised us that if we showed up at sunup the next morning, Mr Turkey would be strutting his stuff just off their back porch. Well, that night it rained like cats and dogs and after an hour drive in the dark and arriving at the appropriate time, the old birds had vanished. Several people have told me that the old strutters hide out around Masonville, but after many forays into that neck of the woods the results have been zero. I did find them once about ten miles up the Poudre Canyon, but they saw yours truly first and made for a hasty getaway up a steep hill and through the timber. Here’s a big hint: Don’t try chasing turkeys! They’re faster than us and by the time you get set to take a picture they’re gone.
Sometimes if you put in enough hard work, the odds start to swing in your favor and lady luck might help out as well. Last month, after a bunch of research on the internet, I found a little gem called Rattlesnake Springs in southern New Mexico. Arriving on the scene about 4pm, several old guys were strutting right on the road and for the next three hours it was if all the turkey gods had placed a bunch of the birds right there for me to photograph. Heck, for the next two days it was the same and after years of frustration I was able to add some good pictures to the portfolio.
When it rains, sometimes it pours. Bruce Miller, a friend of mine here in Fort Collins and a buyer for Cabela’s was watching out for me. He happened on to a property in western Nebraska that was chucked full of turkeys and invited me up for a day. Sure enough, I hadn’t been there 10 minutes when a whole herd of the big birds trotted across a field in front of us. They strutted up and down the place for most of the day and by sunset the camera and I had bagged a bunch more pictures. Next week we’re heading back for more! Thank you Bruce! To all you photographers, be aware that sometimes fate hands you nothing and once in awhile it sends you a turkey. Click