Neighborhood’s ‘pet’ turkey escapes brush with death

Veterinarian David Parent holds a wild turkey that was shot through the breast with an arrow at his Freeland clinic. The bird was given treatment and is doing well, he said.  - Photo courtesy of David Parent
Veterinarian David Parent holds a wild turkey that was shot through the breast with an arrow at his Freeland clinic. The bird was given treatment and is doing well, he said.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of David Parent

That’s one tough turkey.

Residents along Timberline neighborhood just north of Deer Lake were shocked to see that someone shot a wild turkey that’s wandered the neighborhood for years. The turkey was discovered with an arrow shot through the bird’s breast over the weekend, and it prompted several 911 calls.

Matthew Shorey saw the turkey walking along Timberline Road on Monday. He figured the bird was a goner, and doubted that anyone would be able to catch it as it sat in a tree.

“We all assumed it was pretty much done for,” Shorey said.

With the help of his dad, though, Shorey got his hands on the bird Tuesday when it got tangled up in some low-lying brush. He then took the turkey to veterinarian David Parent in Freeland.

“The bird actually looked pretty good,” Parent said. “It looked like the arrow had just gone through the breast muscle and the breast bone.”

Fortunately for the turkey, it had been shot with a target arrow and not an actual hunting arrow.

The turkey, a hen, is about knee-high and weighs about seven pounds. Parent said X-rays showed the bird had been hit twice before, with a BB gun.

“This bird is a survivor, I guess.”

After the turkey was anesthetized, Parent removed the arrow and then stitched up the bird.

Instead of going back to Deer Lake, a worker at Parent’s veterinarian clinic who has a poultry flock and a bit of land offered to take the wounded turkey home.

“With surviving three episodes of being shot with BBs and an arrow, I think that’s probably not the neighborhood to be in,” Parent said.

Whidbey Island isn’t known for having wild turkeys, though Parent said it seems that some have tried to establish a population of the birds on the island in the past. A large group once lived near Brooks Hill Road outside Langley, but predators wiped them out.

“They all bit the dust. They just don’t survive real good here; coyotes get them,” Parent said.

Shorey said he wasn’t sure who took aim at the Timberline turkey.

“I don’t have any clue who would do it. Most of the people here are pretty decent folks,” he said.

“I’m glad he’s OK,” Shorey added. “I’m a hunter and I always have been, but I really despise this kind of thing.

“I’ve hunted all my life. There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way. This is not the right way.”

Shorey said the neighborhood once had about three or four wild turkeys, but the flock has been thinned in the past few years.

“One was hit by a car,” he said, and coyotes probably got the rest. That left just one, who has since been an unofficial pet of the neighborhood.

“This one was pretty sharp. He was the smart one out of the bunch,” Shorey said.

Lucky, too.

“Right before Thanksgiving. He really got a break,” Shorey said.


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