It’s May 2009. In Texas terms, it’s hot as heck even though it’s early in the morning and it’s not even summer. So I have the windows down as I speed my way toward the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast.
As I mosey along the desolate two-lane highway, something in the distance catches my attention. A dark shape moves across the asphalt ahead of me and walks along a small side road leading to who knows where.
I slam on the brakes and pull over as I approach. Already I can tell it’s a male wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). But the road he’s walking along is a private drive, gated in point of fact, so I dare not follow.
Instead, I get out of the car and race along on foot trying to catch up with the bird.
All the while, the turkey yammers aimlessly and displays from time to time, though I can’t for the life of me see anyone he might be trying to impress. No deer, no turkeys, nothing. Heck, there aren’t even any people around save me. I haven’t seen another car since I left Port Lavaca thirty minutes earlier.
Running and snapping photos isn’t exactly my strength, so I run, stop, snap a few photos, then repeat the process, each pause filled with the hope that I’m close enough for some decent photos. But the turkey never stops, never even slows down, and his lead is too great for me to close the gap.
Finally I resolve myself to letting him go. He never worries about me, never feels threatened, mainly because I’m never close enough to be a threat. Which means even a 400mm lens can’t pull him in for a respectable image.
Still, it’s a fun way to start the day. I walk away from him laughing, wondering who he’s talking to and who he’s showing off for, and quietly thinking that he needn’t worry about me wanting him for dinner. Even if I’m in the mood for a drumstick breakfast, the only thing I have to shoot at him is my camera. And that’s something I know he’s thankful for even if he doesn’t realize it.