September 23, 2008

Peyton Place Gets More Wild, Wonderful

By Dave Peyton

AND now it's wild turkeys. I am beginning to wonder just how wild Peyton Place will become.

It began a few years ago when the property was overrun by deer. That phenomenon continues.

Then the coyotes arrived. Some claim they were imported into West Virginia by the state wildlife folks.

From what I have read, however, they have established themselves in most of the eastern states. In fact, there are reports of coyotes in New York's Central Park.

However they got to West Virginia, they are alive and well in my neighborhood. I hear them late at night, and I saw a huge coyote recently in my front yard gnawing on the carcass of a dead fawn that had been hit by an automobile.

A neighbor says he has seen a bobcat or two in the vicinity of his back door in the last couple of years.

And I have heard the sounds of wild turkeys in the woods near my house for a few years. I knew they were there from their gobbling.

Now I know they are there because of a flock I found in my front yard last week. My wife and I were coming home late one afternoon when my wife first noticed them.

"What are those?" she asked. "Are they guineas?"

I stopped the car to get a better look.

"Nope," I said. "Those are wild turkeys."

There were eight of them, all hens. They were apparently eating the seeds from a patch of grass. And they appeared to be relishing every bite.

I drove closer to them and they ignored me until the car got to within 20 feet of them.

Then they scurried back into the brush at the edge of the woods. No doubt there was at least one tom turkey hiding there (I am told toms are more skittish than hens), and perhaps with some youngsters born this spring who were told to hide while the old folks feasted on some favorite grass seed.

I live in a state that's becoming increasingly wild as time passes. All that I have mentioned, except coyotes, are protected by law.

When I was a kid, I doubt there was a single wild turkey in Cabell County. Now, no doubt, there are hundreds if not thousands.

As I have said before, I was 14 or thereabouts before I saw my first deer in my neighborhood. Now it's a rare day indeed when I don't see at least one deer.

And soon, when the Chinese chestnut tree starts dropping its fruit on the ground, the deer will spend hours under the tree waiting for the chestnuts to fall.

I'm not a big fan of the deer. And I'm not sure yet about the coyotes.

But I'm fine with the turkeys. Despite the fact that their gobbling irritates my dogs, they bring a little class to Peyton Place.

All we have left is for a bear to take up permanent residence in one of the nearby hollows. We've had a bear or two pass through and get into neighborhood garbage, but there's no indication any have decided to stay.

If one does, let it be.

It will all complete the transformation of this property, almost within sight of the city limits, into a wild and even more wonderful place.

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