Plunging Poultry

Being that time of year, I was contemplating the famous episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, where they dropped turkeys from a helicopter and found that they really don’t fly, but instead hit like sacks of wet cement.

Few realize that there really is, or at least was, a tradition of flinging edible birds from high places, a tradition that goes way back. Around 1932, some loon was throwing edible fowl off the top of  the courthouse  in my home town ( the county seat).  My father was there: he described people chasing banty hens for blocks.  Those pretties fly.

My dad ( aged 8) caught a goose.  Some adult tried to steal it from him: this was the Depression, after all.  But my Dad didn’t quit: in the struggle, the goose lost a leg, but my Dad held on to the majority and brought it home.  His goose was cooked. And eaten!

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27 Responses to Plunging Poultry

  1. Coagulopath says:

    I lived on a property that had peacocks. Incidentally, “peafowl”, is the gender neutral term, and the overwhelming majority were hens. Only the male has the feathers.

    They can do vertical ascent. Full train and all. They flap a few times, build up speed on the ground, and then launch themselves into the treetops (where they sleep at night). Peacocks are so massive and heavy that it’s like watching the Hughes H-4 Hercules gain altitude. A little scary, but you are filled with awe for the human (and avian) spirit.

  2. bob sykes says:

    The wild turkeys in our rural neighborhood can fly well enough to get up into trees to roost.

    Of course, Kasich, the Dim turkey in our statehouse, can’t fly, and will get eaten by the coyotes.

    • Xenophon Hendrix says:

      When I was much younger, my dog and I charged a flock of turkeys. I did it to give the dog what I hoped was the experience of a lifetime. She was half cocker, a quarter corgi, and a quarter unknown, and she hated birds.
      We managed to get right up into the flock. The larger birds mostly ran, while the smaller ones took to air. The wing beats and the gobbles were loud, and it seemed much like bowling balls flying.

    • Spanky says:

      Wild turkeys can fly at 55mph for almost a mile if really, really pressed (usually if they end up over water). Like pheasants, grouse and red junglefowl (wild chickens), they kind of just explode straight upwards making a huge racket.

  3. At county fairs in West Virginia where I grew up they would stuff roosters in a breech-loading mailbox and shove them out with a plunger off a 10-foot stage and the farmer who got his to go the farthest won a prize.

    Next to cow chip bingo and greased piglet wrestling it was my favorite event.

  4. Esso says:

    Ducks have the unfortunate lot of being one of the tastiest wild animals. Geese on the other hand are quite bland, especially if they are old.

    If we use these two data points to estimate the taste of an even bigger herbivorous anatid, the swan, it should be pretty close to inedible. In fact, an independent researcher I know reports that this is indeed the case.

  5. J says:

    The large breasted breeds can barely walk and are uncapable of turkey-sex. Is the free-range turkey – fake?

  6. ASR says:

    IIRC, greased pig catching contests were hits at the local fairs of my youth. Contestants were all boys and a greased shoat is a lot harder to catch and hold onto than one might think.

    • mtkennedy21 says:

      Newborn babies are also pretty slippery and interns are advised to get one arm between the fingers. It is very bad form to drop them.

    • Spanky says:

      When I look at a pig’s teeth, especially the canines, I wonder about the wisdom of grabbing a scared one, even if it’s small.
      When my brother butchers his chickens, he tosses the heads, necks and feet to his pigs. I’ve watched how they slice and crunch through those beaks and bones so easily, and have no inclination to put my hand near their mouths.

      • Dividualist says:

        Even a human can bite a hand pretty seriously. But if you grab someone by the shoulders or arms, their mouth just does not reach there and I would think neither does a pigs, albeit I know nothing about their neck length and flexibility.

  7. Smithie says:

    I knew a guy at one of those Thanksgiving turkey tosses, who tossed the big frozen turkey and accidentally hit someone with it. So, there is still the possibility of some slight entertainment, even in this decadent age of frozen and gigantically fat, pre-plucked birds.

  8. ohwilleke says:

    This year’s Thanksgiving gathering in my home is small this year, so we will be having a goose, rather than a Turkey.

  9. James Kabala says:

    I know that this is off-topic (and maybe I should have posted it in the original thread, but I thought it would be more likely to be noticed here): Do you have any thoughts on the prosaic solution of the Jane Britton murder? (You were right that the correct thing to do was test the DNA.)

  10. We have not had TV for 40 years, and I only saw that episode of WKRP in rerun while working a hospital night shift. I have gone back to watch that final scene repeatedly now that Youtube makes this possible. It may be the funniest moment I ever saw on TV.

  11. George M Greene says:

    Periodically I go on a tower shoot for pheasant. There are 20 shooters arranged in a circular firing squad 25 yards from each other and about a circle 100 yards from a 100′ tower. At the top of the tower is a platform with 200 pheasant in cages that are released by handlers one at a time randomly on the compass. When a bird comes in your direction it’s your cue to take the shot. Of course your mates on either side may also take a shot. It is amazing how many are missed. Out of 200 birds the average distribution among the shooters is 7-8 so about 20-30% misses.

    The interesting point is that this is a bird farm; the owner raises the pheasant and other game birds for the purpose of hunting. His employees find and collect the missed birds that have gone aground for reuse. What is amazing is that some small percentage of the birds released(I’m guessing the recovered birds) fly straight up to get out of range of the shotguns, whereas the unexperienced birds are harvested as they instinctually fly to ground and over the shooters.

    BTW pheasant is a very tasty meat.

  12. dearieme says:

    “BTW pheasant is a very tasty meat.” Delish. We used to get a frequent supply from road kill in autumn and winter. I’ve eaten road kill deer only once. When I ran down a kangaroo my womenfolk wouldn’t consider letting me gather it for the pot.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do you know why your blog isn’t indexed by Bing or Yahoo?

  14. Jay says:

    Loosely related, dubiously accurate, but funny-

    In the 50s, the Brits were concerned about bird strike on fighter planes, and developed a <href= chicken gun> to test the planes’ resistance. They shot chickens at test airframes until they were confident that the planes could take it.

    When the yanks (as I heard it) did the same thing, they couldn’t replicate the results. After many tries, they got a guy from the RAF to come down and have a look. His advice? Thaw the chicken.

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