Comparing The Wild and Domesticated Turkey

Urban turkeys wander the Rockwood neighborhood on Spokane’s South Hill Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017. Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW

There were many reasons why Benjamin Franklin’s pick for America’s national bird was the Wild Turkey. These amazing animals are not like the domesticated turkeys that grace your table at Thanksgiving. They are amazing creatures with abilities that can evade even the wisest hunter and keen predator. Not only can these birds survive in the wild, but thrive even among predatory animals. How do they do this? They were designed with those abilities by their creator for survival; the domesticated turkeys for their demise.

There are many differences between wild and domesticated turkeys.

Flight Ability

When it comes to flight ability, the wild turkey can fly more than a mile at a time and at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. The domestic turkey has been bred to have outsized, meaty breasts, and large legs sacrificing its ability to fly.

Running Speed

The wild turkey can run faster than a galloping horse and even reach speeds up to 25 miles per hour. The domestic turkey has been bred through hundreds of generations to have shorter legs, which makes for a smaller stride and slower on its feet.

Noise Levels

Wild turkeys, even though can be heard in the wild, are, for the most part, quieter than their domesticated counterparts. A domesticated turkey on the other hand would be like ringing the dinner bell attracting many predators and would not survive long in the wild.


Domestic turkeys are normally bred white to avoid darker skin discoloration associated with non-white feathers. Wild turkeys need darker feathered camouflage to survive in the wild and hide from predators.

Smart vs Dumb

Wild turkeys are smart and cunning compared to the domesticated turkey.
Even though it is a myth that the domesticated turkey will drown if it looks up in a rainstorm; farm raised turkeys are some of the dumbest animals ever to walk the earth, and even have to be kept from accidentally killing themselves a dozen different ways.

If they are frightened by something, they will run to escape whatever it is, but keep running even if it’s to a dead end. Sometimes they will bunch themselves in a corner of the pen, trample and suffocate each other to death.

They have also been known to eat themselves to death if left unattended too long.


Wild turkeys exhibit silence and stealth which are needed in the wild. They are naturally afraid, and cautious about everything. They are considered one of the most difficult game to successfully hunt consistently. Domestic turkeys on the other hand, exhibit no fear of humans and are quite dumb animals.


Wild turkeys have some of the most acute eyesight of any bird species. Domestic turkeys on the other hand have no need for strong eyesight, and more than likely lost most through generations of domestic breeding.

Survival in the Wild

As I stated earlier, the wild turkey not only survives, but thrives in the wild. The domestic turkey on the other hand has lost its instinct for an abilities at survival in the wild, which makes them easy prey for predators.

Domesticated turkeys are not necessarily “stupid,” but because they have been bred in captivity for so many generations, they lack the survival skills of their wild cousins: They’re weak, they’re fat, they’re not agile, they can’t run very fast, and they can’t fly. All of this makes it more difficult for them to survive on their own in an unprotected environment, so when something unusual occurs (such as a storm), they tend to panic. Frightened domestic turkeys will usually run as best they can until they reach a corner or fence or some other barrier to progress, but even then they may continue their efforts to escape, piling onto each other and possibly suffocating those at the bottom of the heap.

It’s not that turkeys are really dumb, but their smarts have been bred out of them.


The founding fathers were men still taming a wilderness, and they were impressed with the Wild Turkey. If you have ever hunted turkeys, you were probably impressed too.

We as men were given abilities by our Creator also to thrive in the wild. We were given the ability to think, create, build, hunt, work, fight, procreate, protect, and love. But this world we call the “urban jungle” is nothing more than a cage for domesticated man. In many ways I feel that we have lost our way as men and have become domesticated. Even worse, that the farmers running our world are breeding the “man” out of men. We are told by society, “It’s just the way it is,” “Shut your hole, know your role,” or, “There’s nothing you can do about it, so why bother.” With that, have we lost the spark of hope so much that it’s just easier to roll over and give up? This has been on my mind these past few years with increasing frequency, and its really bothering me.

For starters I’ve never learned how to hunt. Growing up my father duck-hunted with his brother frequently. While I was still very young he put all his wooden ducks in the attic, sold his guns, and forbade me to every hunt or shoot a gun. To this day, I still don’t know why. On the other hand, I’ve never learned how to garden, till the soil with my bear hands, plant seeds and get them to grow into edible food either.

I’ve never gotten into a fist-fight. Sure I’ve roughhoused with the next door neighbor, or had squabbles in school — but I have never gotten in a serious fight where there were fists, blood drawn, or a bloody lip. As a result I’ve never even taken a punch either. I was always taught to “turn the other cheek,” which I did very well, and to talk my way out of things — including speeding tickets.

In many ways I feel like I’ve become a domesticated man: fat, slow, stick out like a sore thumb, not able to run, and back down with ease. I know I am not a total loss. There are so many things that I have done, and can do. The experiences that I have had were different from my father, and his father before him. Our lives are made up of the choices we make. As I have told my Goddaughter several times, “Even the things you choose have consequences to the things you didn’t.”

Maybe it’s the primal roots that I am lacking like the knowledge and skill of where food comes from, defending my home with honor, and even learning to pick myself up after losing everything. Life is made up of many choices, decisions, highs and lows. It’s in these experiences that make us who we are. Our worth comes from our Creator and we have value. Maybe you are like me and feel incomplete as a man. What do you think is missing? More importantly, how do you plan on filling in the gaps? Feel free to leave your answer or what you are working on in your life in the comment section. I’d like to hear about how you are doing.

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