Stalking the wild tofurky

Face it – we’re all getting a little soft.

I mean, how are your survival skills? There may be a few of us in this society that could still live off the land if the need arose. But for most of us, take away the grocery store and we would starve.

Look at our Thanksgiving festivities. Thanksgiving used to be a hard-earned bounty shared by family and friends. A feast harvested with one’s own hands. Today it’s a trip to the market to pick up that ham or butterball with all the trimmings. Or even a trip to the restaurant, then back home for beer, burping and football.

Well, I decided that was going to change for me. This Thanksgiving I was going to provide my family’s feast with my own skills and resources. After all, I killed me a bear when I was only 3 – no wait, that was Davy Crockett. But I have ripped the shucks right off an ear of corn while all the other corns stood and watched.

As a vegan, the bird of choice for my Thanksgiving Day feast is the wily tofurky. The tofurky is indigenous to North America. Because of its habit of resting in large trees, the tofurky was originally a creature of old growth forests. While old growth is still its favorite habitat, the tofurky has proved remarkably resilient and has adapted to a variety of habitats. There have recently been sightings of tofurkys in the underground tunnels of cities like New York and Los Angeles, but no one knows if the reports are true or simply urban legends.

Like so many of North America’s indigenous creatures, the tofurky suffered at the hands of the early Europeans. Over-harvesting and habitat decimation nearly wiped out the entire population.

Native American oral tradition speaks of a trusting creature that co-habitated with its human counterparts in an almost symbiotic way. It seems they liked the company of their Native American friends and when a tofurky reached the end of its life on earth family groups would present the deceased to neighboring indigenous peoples for food.

This compassionate, harmonious behavior led many of our forefathers to petition for the tofurky as the symbol of the American people. Stories are told of Ben Franklin’s pleadings on behalf of the wild turkey. But Ben’s brother, John Franklin, was an ardent supporter of the tofurky as the nation’s symbol. In fact it was John Franklin who introduced that famous quote: “Give me tofurky – or give me high cholesterol.”

Some historians point to this sibling rivalry as the reason the bald eagle was chosen as our nation’s symbol. The thought was; rather than create such a rift at such a critical time in our nation’s history, cooler heads decided to lobby for the bald eagle. Of course, another theory has it that a severe lack of hair among our founding fathers led to the bald eagle choice.

Today’s tofurky is a different animal than its ancestor. Because of earlier persecution, the tofurky has become one of — if not the most — elusive creatures in the wild, ranked right up there with the abominable snowman, ivory-billed woodpecker, loch ness monster and eastern cougar.

I knew bagging a tofurky wouldn’t be easy, so I stocked up on required gear. I leased a humvee and bought an ATV. I picked out an appropriate arsenal including an AK-47 and a twice-barrel shotgun. I also stocked up on camouflage, tofurky bait, tofurky scent and a tofurky stand.

Upon arriving at the woods, I cleared half an acre and set up my RV base camp. With the generator turned on and the RV plugged in so it would be nice and warm when I returned, I hit the woods. I hunted hard for three hours with no luck.

I returned to the RV to fix a primitive meal of curried spinach with tomatoes and pureed garbanzos accompanied by curried lentil stir-fry with fennel and apricots washed down with a rotgut bottle of Domaine Guffens Heynen Pouilly Fuisse La Roche. Next, for inspiration, I pulled out my well-worn copy of Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons, which I read by the soft glow of the fluorescent light accompanied by the soothing purr of the generator until I fell asleep.

The next morning, by instinct, I was up at the crack of 9:30. I gathered my gear and headed for the woods. Disdaining the stand and the bait, I decided to spend the morning stalking. After a rigorous half-hour or so I came upon a large tulip poplar.

A bit spent from my early rising and arduous stalking, I nestled against the trunk of the large poplar awash in the autumn sun. Inexplicably, I fell asleep. In that dark fog of slumber I heard something that sounded like childish giggling and tiny feet kicking in the fallen leaves.

I awoke with a start and looked down. It was all over. There between my legs was a steaming pile of cornbread dressing — the definitive sign of a wild tofurky counting coup.

I know when I’m beaten.

Thank goodness for me there are the good folks at Turtle Island Foods. I know I can go to my local health food store and score a tofurky with all the trimmings.

I may not be a match for the wild tofurky but I’m still committed to this idea of self-sufficiency. Next Thanksgiving I’m headed to the deep blue. I’m going to switch our family’s feast from fowl to fish. That’s right, it’ll be tofuna for the Hendershot family next Thanksgiving.

don

Author: don

Don Hendershot's love affair with nature began early, growing up in the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. His fascination with the outdoors led to a degree in Wildlife Conservation from Louisiana Tech University.

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