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Kopac's Corner

Trailrunners, Beware the Beak!

by Bob Kopac

Trailrunners love to exercise by running through woods and ravines, wanting to get close to nature. Well, beware! This article is a public service announcement to warn you of the dangers lurking in those woods!

I do not mean the type of danger that caused me never to go camping again after I watched the movie Deliverance. Well, that is not entirely true. Many, many years after seeing that movie I slept overnight at a campsite in upstate New York. At 2 AM shots rang out in the camp. As I lay there, I contemplated the fact that a tent is not really bulletproof. At least I did not hear banjo music.

No, I want to alert you to a new and ominous hazard that I learned from a local newspaper article. A news item in the October 9, 2004 Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper reported that a hunter shot at a turkey but hit his hunting partner instead. The article states:

"The victim, 57, was carrying the dead turkey upside down..."

" (His hunting partner) apparently did not realize the turkey was being carried..."

Trailrunners, if you think the way I do, you immediately recognize the danger: There must be woodland birds and animals that can fool hunters--and runners--by hanging upside down! Imagine the peril: you are out on a long run on the Appalachian Trail when, suddenly, you round a curve and your face smacks into a turkey beak; the turkey is at eye level because it is hanging upside down from a branch.

Inquiring minds may ask, "Why would a turkey want to hang upside down?" There are several possible reasons.

  1. The turkey may be pretending to be a bat. The turkey may have observed that hunters shoot turkeys, not bats, probably because bat meat is not very tasty. At least I guess that is true. I admit I have never eaten bat meat. I have eaten guinea pig in Peru; although guinea pig meat is somewhat greasy, the claws make for an excellent toothpick. However, I doubt that bat feet would make for a good toothpick, although turkey feet might.
  2. The turkey may be interested in a healthy lifestyle but not be able to afford an inversion table. Instead, it must rely on the poor man's (or turkey's) inversion table by hanging upside down by its claws.
  3. The turkey may be addicted to the high of blood rushing to its head. It hangs upside down longer and longer, until eventually it starts falling from the tree and hitting its head, causing brain damage and a desire to go to shopping malls.

The article also states: "The turkey was expected to be autopsied by environmental conservation officers, to see if any shot pellets from (the other hunter's) gun hit the turkey..."

Question: Why? Would the other hunter be awarded part of the turkey if his shot pellets were in the turkey? Sounds like a Barry Bonds homerun ball ownership issue to me.

Well, what should you, as a concerned trail runner, do to protect yourself from upside-down turkeys?

  1. Wear safety goggles while running. The goggles will protect your eyes from eye-level turkey beaks.
  2. Carry a bat with you. No, not the animal, but a baseball bat. Swing the bat in front of you while running. Hopefully you will knock away any upside-down turkeys. If not, at least it will be excellent upper-body exercise.
  3. Avoid running in forests. Instead, run in meadows or deserts where there are no trees. If you run into a turkey hanging upside down from a bush or a cactus, its beak would only hurt your ankles, not your eyes. Since trailrunners constantly injure their ankles anyway, any turkey-beak injuries would not be such a big deal.

In conclusion, what have we learned?

  1. Trailrunners should beware of hanging turkeys.
  2. Bat feet do not make good toothpicks.
  3. A desire to go to shopping malls is a sure sign of brain damage.