Tuesday, April 28, 2009
By Taylor Wilson
I was stumbling around out in the bottomland trying to turkey hunt when I came upon proof positive that a certain mindset definitely changes the way you see things.
Looking down at this box turtle I noticed something slightly different about it.
There was something about its shell markings made me want to take a closer look.
Picking the little guy up, yep, there it was as plain as day. Well, as plain as day to somebody that spends a lot of time chasing turkeys.
There on the shell was a design that mimicked a turkey track.
“How cool is that?” I thought. “I gotta have a photo of this.”
So, I carried the “turkey track” turtle home with me to take his photo and after doing so, I put him the floorboard of the truck for a return to his home.
But when I got there, I realized I couldn’t find him. And it was going to get up to 80 degrees that day. Turtle soup has always been good, but I have never had baked turtle.
I sure hoped I could find him, so I dug around a lot in the cab, loaded with mildewed camouflage and turkey decoys.
The last I saw him, he was climbing upward toward the dash, but I be darned if I could place a hand on his turkey-track back.
“Come out, come out wherever you are!” I told the turtle, but he didn’t listen.
I left the windows down, and hoped for the best, considering leaving the doors open through the night if need be. But when I returned to the truck, there he was in the floorboard and ready to go home.
But he would have to wait. We took him to a softball game that night and he seemed to have a good time, doing all his tricks for the kids, which included “stay”, “roll-over” and “play dead.”
He rode in the back of the pickup the next a.m.—no more getting lost in the vehicle.
I took him to the exact spot where I had found him. It is said that box turtles have a homing instinct and if they are not returned to their home they roam ’til they find it, or try to. And with loss of habitat this roaming usually ends badly for the turtle, via automobiles or predators.
Many states have begun protecting box turtles because of their loss of habitat and an overzealous pet trade market.
But anyway, I put him back, and said goodbye in the pre-dawn darkness, just before a longbeard sounded off in the distance.
“See ya, later little dude. That’s a cool shell you got there. Thanks for the photo!”
Who knows, our paths may cross again. If so, I’ll know him when I see him, what with me always looking for turkey tracks, anyway.