Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 13, 2012

Talking Turkey

McCloud Nature Park offers unique event

Bart Doan

NORTH SALEM — Once left for extinction in state lines, the wild turkey has completed a stunning 40-year comeback, and patrons of McCloud Nature Park will have a chance to learn about, see, and even communicate with them at the first ever Wild Turkey Wander.

The program is 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the park in North Salem and will feature an educational session, a trek into the wild, a chance to meet a domesticated wild turkey, and some tips on how to call the majestic fowl.

Stephanie Whicker of the Hendricks County Parks Department said that more than 40 years ago, something like this never would have happened as there were less than 1,000 wild turkeys in the state, due to a lack of hunting regulations and destruction of habitat. Now there are more than 130,000 of the creatures within state lines.

“I believe, personally, that we don’t want to have extinct or extricated species in the state,” she said, explaining that animals like the Carolina parakeet, brown bear, and gray wolf are no longer living in Indiana due to hunting and lost habitat.

The presentation will begin in the nature center with some educational information, talking about their comeback and habits, and then there will be a hike around the park before finishing with the live turkey and calling demonstration.

Travis Dunn, who domesticates turkeys and works for the park, will take patrons on the trek.

Whicker said there are many common misnomers about the turkey.

“One is that they can be aggressive,” she said. “That’s more of a protection measure than anything. People don’t think they can fly, but they can in short distances, and they roost in trees in the evening. I’ve seen them as high as a one-story building. They’re fast.”

She said the birds are capable of running up to 25 miles per hour and flying up to 55 miles per hour, though they rarely do and only for shorter distances.

“You’ll see one, if you’re lucky,” Whicker said. “They are a little elusive. It’s a matter of how quiet the group will be because they’re very well camouflaged. We’ll then have some vocalizations that we’ll be demonstrating. I don’t know how good Travis is at turkey calling, but he does raise them.”

For more information about the Wild Turkey Wander, visit the website at hendrickscountparks.org or call 718-6188. The event is open to all ages.

McCloud Nature Park is at 8518 Hughes Road, North Salem.


Just the facts

WHAT: Wild Turkey Wander

WHEN: 2 p.m. Nov. 17

WHERE: McCloud Nature Park