February 29, 2012 - Whether you loved him, hated him or were simply amused by his unusual antics, there's no denying he was probably the most famous – or infamous – wild turkey Oxford Township's ever seen.
The wild turkey often sighted along Seymour Lake Rd., between Sanders and Coats roads, managed to elude the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, but he couldn’t outrun the vehicle that killed him Sunday night. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Unfortunately, the turkey who had become a well-known fixture along Seymour Lake Rd. – between Sanders and Coats roads – went to roost in that great, big tree in the sky Sunday evening after a motorist struck him, ending his young and tender life.
It was with great sadness that resident Nadine Claycomb called the Leader office Monday morning to report the turkey's untimely demise.
"We all feel terrible," she said. "We're going to miss Henrietta."
Even though the turkey was a young male, which is known as a jake, some of the neighbors affectionately called him Henrietta, while others named him Nellie. The neighbors liked to keep track of his whereabouts and watch him fly up into Claycomb's tree for his overnight roost.
Resident Steve Andrews witnessed the turkey's end, which occurred around 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
"(The vehicle) clipped it with the front fender and it went off into the ditch," he said. "It died there."
Andrews retrieved the body and stored it in his freezer.
"My son's going to take the tail (feathers) and mount it on a plaque," he said.
As for the body, it will not be roasted and served for dinner as is the fate of so many of the turkey's brethren each spring and fall.
Andrews admitted his family simply became too "attached" to the turkey to make him the honored guest at a last supper.
"It's been around too long for them to even think about it," he said. "(My son's) going to wait for the warm weather and give it a little burial somewhere."
Andrew admitted he's going to miss the wily bird.
For a little over three months, the turkey had been hanging around Seymour Lake Rd., causing all sorts of mischief.
He was well-known for wandering out into the middle of the busy road, often stopping traffic in both directions. He could be seen chasing vehicles – sometimes, even people – and pecking at them.
Some compassionate motorists would get out of their cars and try to gently shoo him off the road, but he'd always return to the center line – defiant, proud and perhaps, a little crazed. It was always amusing to watch as some motorists literally chased him around their vehicles in a cartoon-like fashion.
According to Claycomb and Andrews, some folks actually attempted to harm or capture the notorious turkey, but they were unsuccessful.
"People have been just terrible," Claycomb said. "There were four boys out here in our yard with big sticks and a dog or cat carrier. I hollered at them to get out of here and leave the turkey alone . . . It's been ridiculous."
The turkey's antics caused many folks to lodge complaints and express concerns to the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, Oxford Township offices and this newspaper.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources attempted to capture the rogue bird, but he managed to elude them.
In the end, it was a motor vehicle that succeeded where the long arm of the law failed.
Although nothing's been officially released by the sheriff's department, it appears the turkey's death will be considered an accident – unless someone comes forward with an accusation of fowl play.
It is not known at this time whether the turkey left behind a hen or any poults.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.