Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Should We Pardon our Turkeys?

©Bert Gildart:  Here in our somewhat rural setting in Montana, it would be easy to enjoy a turkey dinner, and I doubt anyone would be the wiser.  It’s tempting; especially when several make their way onto the balcony of our porch, and then blop three feet down onto the floor of our deck.  Can these large and somewhat clumsy birds  fly off before I can bat one?

Silently, I inch open the sliding door that accesses our deck.

Despite the fact Ol’ Ben thought the species an intelligent one, our turkeys don’t have the smarts to flap their wings and rise above the level of the banister.  Instead, as I’ve discovered (and through no malice on my part!), they race back and forth across the small deck, crashing into the railing. They add to the growing pile of evidence that proclaims , “I Tom Turkey have shat upon your porch!”


They number in the dozens and damage our feeders and leave deposits on our porch. Should we pardon them?


Given this insult it is so tempting to charge out and whack one in the head, but instead I back off.  I close the door and then watch.  Are they smart enough to overcome their dilemma?

Settled now, they cluck among themselves and then every single one adds yet another rude deposit to our porch.  But there’s hope.  A minute or two later, one bird springs onto the banister, tests its wings and then it lumbers off.  Quickly, the others follow suit.

If turkeys contributed only madness to our small world, tomorrow, we’d be dining on a freshly harvested wild turkey.  But they contribute more.  Along with the other bird species, our 50 to 60 wild turkeys add pleasure to our lives.  They have a distinct social structure.  Below the deck they gather to feed on seeds other birds have dispersed from the feeder above.  Elite turkeys feed first and we’re fascinated by this nuanced social behavior.


Their social structure and various antics fascinate them, so we're inclined to forgive their transgressions.


Our wild turkeys also put on displays.  Fanning their tails they then elevate them so that the bird becomes an object of considerable beauty.  It’s a display usually associated with territoriality and mating, but beneath our deck it’s a display that defies seasonal propriety.

Apparently, our turkeys are just happy turkeys, and today they should be, for despite the fact they’ve pried off the top of our feeder and insulted  our deck, I am going to defer to presidential restraint.  Today, I’m going allow every single one of these huge avian visitors to continue on with its life.

Today, no matter what they do I’m going to pardon each and every one.



*Thanksgiving in the Great Smoky Mountains

*Thanksgiving 2008

*Thanksgiving Pardon of 2007

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy

Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

One Response to “Should We Pardon our Turkeys?”

  1. Tom & Sandi Palesch Says:

    Bert and Janie: In the terms of today’s world I think “pardoning” the turkeys usn’t enough. Especially since they “insulted” your deck.

    I would think the very least you could do to send them a message about their behavior is to :UNFRIEND” them and really put the fear of God into them. “UNFRIENDING” would let them know that you are unhappy with their behavior. Nobody (especially turkeys) want the wrath of the social media brought down upon their pea-brained heads!