Monday, November 19, 2018

Fighting a Turkey

In honor of Thanksgiving I thought we'd look at how to fight a turkey. I get questions about fighting fantastic creatures "on the regular." My advice is always for the writer to find the closest real animal equivalent, if at all possible, and look at how that animal fights. If your fantastic creature or being has the appearance of a turkey, scoot closer to the screen. This post is for you!

We are considering wild turkeys here, not the domestic ones raised for food. Male wild turkeys, known as toms, stand about four feet tall, weigh upwards of twenty plus pounds and have a wing span somewhere around four and a half feet. They are big birds. 

Wild turkeys can fly in short bursts up to 55mph and can run about 25 miles an hour. They are also just brimming with confidence. It's fairly easy to find footage of them nonchalantly crossing the road and backing up traffic as well as menacing people. Here's a video of a postman fending some off. You will notice that they are quick to back away from the prod, but then also quick to get back to the business of intimidation.
What might a wild turkey do to you if it happens to catch you? Most likely it will jump up and try to beat you with its wings like a thug. It might also attempt to peck at you. It's not likely to use it's spurs, which is good because those babies are huge. A lady in one video I watched claims a turkey jumped up and drop kicked her. But, even then, it didn't use its spurs. I'm not saying they absolutely won't use their spurs. That just not what they generally do. If a turkey manages to "get" you, it won't kill you. It will humiliate you by smacking you around and might leave you with a few bloody pecks.

My father-in-law grew up out in the country and has spent a good bit of time in the woods hunting. I asked him how would he defend himself against a turkey. Without missing a beat he said, "go faster." Now, y'all saw how fast a turkey can run: 25mph. Usain Bolt runs 28mph. That doesn't leave much hope for the rest of us. Luckily, my father-in-law said that turkeys will not run you down. They will chase you just long enough to get you at a distance that is safe for them. They are prey animals after all.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the protagonist of our story runs into some turkeys that have a real vendetta against him. They are birds straight from Alfred Hitchcock's, The Birds!* The turkeys mean to run your protagonist down, beat him senseless and tear him to shreds. He has no shelter to run into. What does he do?

Well, first, he shouldn't climb a tree. Turkeys roost in trees.They don't generally attack there but we aren't talking about regular turkeys here. These are crazy attack turkeys! He also won't be able outrun the things. His best bet is to get a buffer between them, something the turkeys will have to run or fly around. The more impediments between the character and the foul fowl the better. I think running into the woods would be great. Yes, wild turkeys live in the woods and maneuver just fine in there. But, that's when they are choosing their own path. The leader of a chase has the advantage of choosing the course. The turkeys don't know that your character will quickly turn left or right.

Your character could also look around for thick brush to bury himself in. Even if the demon turkeys could get in there with him, they wouldn't be able to pimp slap the character with their wings and might have a harder time raising their talons or pecking. Getting under something is also an option for your poultry pursued person. The thing would need to be low enough to the ground that the turkeys could not follow.

Another option is to fight back. If your character is battling two birds, he should focus on one of the birds, fighting and  circling, while keeping bird two in his peripheral. That will be very hard since turkeys are fast. But, it might be doable. Battling three or more would be a nightmare. If you write that, please send me that scene.

In a one on one fight, your character could swing an item of clothing at the bird, something to make it not want to run at your character. If the turkey swoops up to escape the thing being swung, your character should continue slapping at it but also get himself out of he way of the turkey coming down. He could also throw rocks or handfuls of gravel at it. Even if he doesn't injure the bird, the bird will back away to protect it's head and eyes.

Your character's best bet is to get a heavy duty stick or club and go after the sucker's neck. Yes, a gun would be absolutely best but that's too easy. We want this to be tough.The reason I suggest aiming for the neck is you have a greater margin of error. If the turkey goes up or down, your character will still hit something.

In order to battle the turkey head on, keep your character still enough that the turkey runs directly at him. When its neck is within whacking distance, your character should swing for the fences. Or, if your character is so skilled, he could kick it, but I don't suggest that. A bird with talons will jump at you talons out. Let's assume these turkeys will do that. You might not want your character's leg in the way of that. Or...maybe you do...hmmmm. If your character uses a bat and the turkey flies up talons out, he could swing at the feet or jab the bird's chest to maintain distance.

And, there you have it folks, how to fight a wild turkey! I hope all of you in the U.S. have a great Thanksgiving. 

To all my readers around the world, I am incredibly thankful for you. When I began this blog two years ago, I never imagined I would have the readership that I do that spans the globe. May God bless you, keep you, cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Until the next round at, get blood on your pages. Here's a compilation of funny turkey videos. Enjoy!

*The Birds, like all Hitchcock movies is amazing. It's about all the birds turning on humans. If you have every confronted a parking lot bird, the kind that demand fries, you know it's only a matter of time until Hitchcock's imagining is realized!

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