On national holidays we drive up to the university and view the wildlife. Campus is largely in forest, and the beasts of the field move in once people have deserted it for a day or two. Coyotes in the Great Meadow, herds of deer on East Field, bobcats on Hagar Drive. These sights give you a perspective on who the world really belongs to. And it’s fun.
We saw no such animals — well, one deer — but we did meet a flock of turkeys by the bookstore. We got between the dominant male and his females, and he immediately came at the car.
Turkeys have one attack strategy: immediate close with the vehicle and begin to circle it. Then peck at the tires.
Mind you, this is all out of the driver’s sight, because the turkey stays close in and and below the car windows. But you can hear it, gobbling madly: from the front, from the back, then under your window, then from the passenger side.
And every so often comes the soft TUNK of the turkey pecking at one one of your steel-belted radials.
This all makes complete sense — to the turkey. Tires resemble turkeys in several respects: bulbous, dark, rough-textured, upright. So it’s natural that the turkey should try to drive off the four “invaders” (TUNK) that the car rides on.
And I did try to drive away, but the turkey kept up with me. “Watch out!” my wife yelled. “It’s right in front of the car!”
“I can’t see!” I braked, then started again slowly. From somewhere out of view: GOOBLEGOBBLEGOOBLE (TUNK). I started the car forward again, slowly.
“He’s chasing the car!” (TUNK)
For a moment he was right beneath my window, wattle engorged with rage. I was looking at a dinosaur.
I accelerated briskly: he could be pressed turkey, if that was his wish, but I was getting out of there.
And at last we pulled away, leaving him fortunately unflattened. And the proud and somewhat mad defender of his slice of road.