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Friends with Benefits: deer & wild turkeys hanging together


I came across these deer and wild turkeys feeding together along what was one of my favorite outdoor haunts in my teen years.

As I took these photos I thought back to the very first time I came across deer and wild turkeys together. At the time I thought it merely happenstance and simply savored the moment. After a second occurrence I chalked it up to coincidence. Today, several years later, gatherings between whitetails and wild turkeys may cause me to raise an eyebrow. But am I surprised? No way!

You see, in the time since my first deer/turkey encounter, I've heard it said that, "if the wild turkey, with its keen eyesight............

possessed the scenting ability of the whitetail deer...........

it would be nearly impossible to get close enough for a shot"....

A bit of an exaggeration perhaps? Maybe. While it may sound like a stretch of the imagination, it's a statement that attests to the keen senses of both species.

By definition, symbiosis isn't what we might label the relationship between deer and turkeys. Yet the wild turkey and the whitetail deer are two of North America's most sought after creatures, with pursuit being from man and natural predators alike. That being said, I find it not only interesting, but understandable as to why the high strung whitetail and the skittish wild turkey oftentimes work together. It's a relationship that benefits both species.

William Chase

I too have encountered deer and turkeys working together. One time when I was spring turkey hunting my buddy called in a very large Tom. As it came marching in towards him it was preceded by a doe deer walking about 3 yards ahead of the turkey.

Oct 2, 2014, 11:37am Permalink
Ron C Welker

Always a pleasure to view your work, keep up the good work. I have experienced the deer and wild turkeys working together in the wild myself.


Oct 2, 2014, 12:25pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Jim. @ wild turkeys. Did you ever see the PBS special about the man who raised 'wild' turkeys? He found the eggs on his doorstep, and that's where the story begins. Before they were even hatched, he would make 'turkey noises', to the point that, the hatchlings 'thought' he was their mother.

One of the most interesting docu's I've ever seen. It can been seen at…

Oct 2, 2014, 8:15pm Permalink

Ed - I just finished watching "my life as a turkey", I had not seen it before. Must admit, I personally found it quite moving - some humor, some sadness and a whole lot of deep thought.......thanks, Ed.

Oct 3, 2014, 8:51am Permalink

William Chase - Thanks for your comment.
Several years ago, an acquaintance of mine, a traditional archer who hunted long bow only, was hunting the winter bow season on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, five days of late season bow in mid-December. The sun was approaching the western horizon when he spotted movement.....something dark stood out in contrast against a coating of freshly fallen snow. Several turkeys, upwards of two dozen, paraded past in single file. Bringing up the rear was a handful of deer, also in single file, the last of which was a respectable buck. He never loosed an arrow but he did find the moment worth sharing.

Oct 3, 2014, 9:15am Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

You're welcome, Jim. I kinda figured you would like it.
I loved the part where one came back to see who was 'King of the Mountain', so to speak.

There's another one out there, about a mother camel that refuses to nurse her (calf?) Some would call it a "tear-jerker".
Don't know if it's available for free, but the name of it was something like, "The Weeping Camel", or "The Camel That Cried". It shouldn't be too hard to find (Mr. Google is good at finding stuff).

Have a good weekend!

Oct 3, 2014, 12:23pm Permalink

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