All of us have, at one time or another, wondered what it would be like to live another life: to survive Hell Week with the Navy SEALS, to become a famous pop star, to disappear into a foreign country and learn to pass as a native. Naturalist Joe Hutto took the chance to do exactly that, entering another world when he became the mother to a brood of sixteen wild turkeys. He was not prepared for everything he discovered.
It begins with the arrival of the eggs and a weeks-long incubation, carefully observed. Hutto is present for the hatching, wherein the sixteen turkey chicks imprint on him as if he were their mother. What follows is a year and a half of bonding, of communing with nature. It’s a fascinating process to watch.
The special is gorgeously shot, bringing you fully into this world, and on this journey along with Hutto. It’s based on Hutto’s book Illumination in the Flatlands.
He learns that these turkeys, as they explore together, give him a passport into the natural world of the Florida flatlands, allowing him to get close to not only the turkeys, but the other animals as well. It is as if he becomes accepted as a member of the flock.
As with any nature documentary, there are moments of tragedy. Not all sixteen turkeys make it to adulthood, and you feel Hutto’s pain as he loses some to predators and illness. You can’t help but come to see them as he sees them, as individuals distinguished not only by physical characteristics but also by their personalities: adventurous Turkey Boy, loving Sweet Pea, curious Rosita. Despite their reputation for stupidity, it becomes apparent that these are creatures of great intelligence.
From the turkeys Hutto learns life lessons: how to live in the moment, how to trust that nature will provide what you need. These are insights purchased by a serious commitment. He spends every waking moment with these creatures until he is, as he knew he eventually must be , left behind by the flock.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into another world, one the whole family can enjoy and benefit from.
Nature: My Life as a Turkey airs Wednesday, November 26th at 8:00 p.m. on KIXE channel 9.
Chad Grayson has been a gas station attendant, sold video games over the phone, and even was the person who cuts the mold off the cheese in the cheese factory, but spent most of his career as a middle school Language Arts and History teacher. He is now a full-time stay at home dad and writer. You can find him on twitter at @chadgrayson and on his blog at cegrayson.wordpress.com.