THE TURKEY TUMBLE: Scene from past turkey dro. BAXTER BULLETIN

Bill Bowden reported in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning that they’ll be dropping live turkeys out of an airplane over Yellville again this Friday and Saturday at Yellville’s Turkey Trot Festival.

The FAA said it doesn’t get into animal cruelty issues (and you can be sure the local prosecutor has been bullied to silence by the locals on the issue). As long as the pilot, Mountain View pharmacist Dana Woods, doesn’t drop turkeys over a crowd, the regulators say there’s nothing they can do. Woods has been smirking about this cruel practice for years as the Phantom Pilot. There was a drop last year despite the previous hiatus, wildly cheered by those who see sport in abusing dumb animals.


It’s inhumane, of course. Also, if a drop of live birds draws a bigger crowd, it is no commentary on the practice but on those who turn out.  They could probably get a good crowd in Yellville for a drawing and quartering, too. Here’s an idea for sport: A drop of frozen Butterball turkeys from 500 feet over the cheering crowd.

The Yellville yahoos trotted out the usual defense that turkeys can fly, including expert testimony from the state Game and Fish Commission. The Game and Fish man was talking about WILD turkeys, I’d note. These are not wild turkeys and they’ll be confined to a noisy plane before a drop from 500 feet, a good bit higher than the tree roosts from which a wild turkey might take off. I found more persuasive the comment from Yvonne Thaxton, a professor of poultry science at the University of Arkansas:


“Placing turkeys in an environment that is new to them is stressful,” she said. “In the case of an airplane, the noise would also be a stress-producing fear reaction.

“Dropping one from 500 feet is a horrific act of abuse. There is no justification for this practice.”

Hee-haw. Yuk it up Yellville.

Here’s another funny idea. Round up a bunch of old people, being sure they all know how to swim. Then push them off a 10-meter diving board at a swimming pool (470 feet less than the turkeys will drop). A lot of them will be terrified, but, hey, they can swim. It would be funny as hell, right?