My Life as a Turkey
Full Episode

My Life as a Turkey awarded Emmy for Outstanding Nature Programming! Watch the full film:

After a local farmer left a bowl of eggs on Joe Hutto’s front porch, his life was forever changed. Hutto, possessing a broad background in the natural sciences and an interest in imprinting young animals, incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. As the chicks emerged from their shells, they locked eyes with an unusual but dedicated mother. One man’s remarkable experience of raising a group of wild turkey hatchlings to adulthood. Buy the DVD. This film premiered on November 16, 2011. (Video limited to U.S. & Territories.)

  • charles Bordner

    I loved’ My life as a turkey’,how can I purchase the D.V.D?

  • fultonk

    Hi Charles,

    It’s available for purchase at Today is also the last day of our Turkey Giveaway. You might not even have to purchase the DVD!

  • Vicky

    My heart is so filled with emotion after seeing this program My Life as a Turkey on PBS last night and I just had to watch the video again. I hope to purchase the DVD and book and share with friends and family. I want to personally thank PBS and of course Joe Hutto for this absolutely great program.

  • Ed Bordner

    I’ll wait a few days before I purchase it. I want my all my and gr, to see it for sure. Charles [Ed] Bordner.

  • Jim Jones

    I have been an ardent watcher of Nature for years (remember when George Page was the host?), and I must say that this episode disturbed me profoundly on at least two levels. First of all, I have a serious issue with the idea of the ‘turkey Mom’ continuing his experiments on imprinting with these turkeys. The episode didn’t go into just why these eggs were deposited on his door, but from there his involvement with the near destruction of these animals natural instincts became worse and worse. Why was he trying to imprint these birds at all? So that when they were finally ‘free-released’ they will forever associate humans with food, care and protection? That is a recipe for disaster; need I remind you that Thanksgiving is near? In addition, the scene when he was attacked as a rival by the young Tom was terrible. I was reminded of the late Timothy Treadwell, who tried to become something more of an observer to wild Grizzly bears — with predictable results. What would have happened to Joe if this had not been a Turkey? Suppose he had tried to imprint a female harpy eagle? Does the staff at Nature think that this is a good thing to do to wild animals?
    Secondly, I found it sad to watch as Joe tried to substitute the contact of wild turkeys for his fairly apparent lack of contact with his own species. There are stories too numerous to mention of people trying to bond with creatures, and it almost always ends up bad — for the animals. I have been studying the raptors of Bethpage State Park in New York for over two decades. The first, and last lesson that I have always reminded myself about is that the lives of the animals that I study are theirs — and theirs alone. Haven’t we done enough to the vanishing creatures of this planet without confusing them about who they really are?
    I look forward to hearing from Nature and PBS.

  • Mary

    What a wonderful show, my husband and I just watched it and we both enjoyed it very much! We have 4 bronze turkeys that we love dearly. Thank you for stream lining it the show, we werent able to watch it on TV last night and it was a big bummer!

  • Darlene

    Hi! I loved the show. But, I was wondering how you reinacted the snake eating the poult scene? I hope it wasn’t any of the poults you were filming.

    I felt bad that the original chick was eaten. All he had to do was reinforce his coup a little more. Surprised he only lost one out of 16.

  • Jean Freeman

    Last night I fell in love………with Joe AND the little turkeys. What an awesome show. The photography was just stunning and had some of the most beautiful.colors in it that I’ve ever seen. When Joe told the story, you could see how passionate he was from his own words. I laughed and I cried. If this would have been made any other way, it wouldn’t have been as good as it was. I understand Joe is now living with a herd of Mule Deer in Wyoming. I hope this will be filmed for us also. Thanks for an enlighting evening. Joe, keep loving the wild life and nature like you do and make us more of your great films.

  • Colin

    Amazing video and story! Thank you Mr. Hutto for being who you are! All outdoor enthusiasts need to watch this and I hope it gets promoted far and wide! Thank you PBS for this great story!

  • Georgia

    This may be the best nature film I’ve ever seen. Interesting story and incredible photography. I would have liked to see interviews with the people who put this together to learn more about how the story was recreated. If that was part of the program, it was not shown on my TV station, nor do I find that on this website.
    Thanks for a wonderful film.

  • Amanda

    I happen to stumble on this video while looking around.When I clicked play, a whole new world opened up that I never thought would be so interesting! I live in Western Michigan, so I see turkey around all of the time. As a matter of fact, there is a horse farm about a mile from my home that the turkey like to hang out at. My son came home from school as i started to watch the program. We laughed, cried and just sat here enthralled in this video. I want to say thank you so much for airing this program! I NEVER would have thought that a show about a guy and some turkeys could be so amazing! PBS has been a part of this household for years now, starting with me watching “Sesame Street” and “reading Rainbow” as a child, to me as an adult watching “Antiques Roadshow” and so many others. And now my children watch a whole list of different programs. PBS will continue to be a favorite learning experience for me and my family for years to come! I also would like to say thanks for the education on the birds that I always thought were nothing more than “bird brained” (no pun intended.) and stupid. Now I will watch them with a new understand and respect.

  • Greg

    I enjoyed the show. I have heard most every sound a turkey can or will make. Here in Missouri, the Turkey population has declined over the past several years due to poor mast production, wet springs, and an increase in predator populations. This past spring was relatively dry and the mast production this fall is abundant where I spend time. I have seen fall flocks that number over twenty birds. My one disappointment with the show was the “human” imprinting of a wild animal that is to be released to try and live in the wild.

  • Cristina Caserta

    Nov. 17th, 6:24Pm

    What a beautiful and fascinating program, I’m so grateful that there are people like Joe Hutto who would take on such a hugh responsibility for our better understanding not just of wild turkeys, but gave us insight into a hidden aspects of the natural world, It was so educational and moving–even as a bird lover, I never gave much thought about wild turkeys. PBS is an invaluable educational tool, I’ve been watching it for years, it’s truly a national treasure. Thank you so much.

    I wonder if I could get a fuller explanation about why “Turkey Boy” attacked Joe.

  • Janet Buzby

    This man is awesome. His caring heart is tremendous. I wish some day that I could meet him. Keep up the good work Joe. The world needs alot more people like you in it!

  • Renee Badertscher

    This was one of the best Nature shows I have seen–and I’ve seen most of them. It was personal, yet gave insights into the life of the animals. I will definitely be buying the DVD. I, too, wondered what the “instinct” was that made Turkey Boy turn on Joe at the end. Can you explain? Was this unusual behavior or would this have happened in the wild as well? I also noted at the end that Joe is living in Montana, was it, with, um, can’t remember what animals. Is there another story in the making? He can tell it like no other person.

  • naomi

    i hope this wonderful story will affect the people who call thanksgiving ‘turkey day’. it is actually ‘turkey death day’.

  • Barbara Kaslow

    I loved this program. It reminds me of the Parrots of Telegraph Hill, but with a much sadder ending. I had a sense that there was much more to turkeys that we have been told. I was very touched by this. They seem to travel in packs. I would like to see their behavior studied more. Thank you for starting something great!

  • tim timon

    loved it .apart of you in me ! try watching’ primal dreams’ bye gene wensel a must!

  • Dorothy Carswell

    Thank You So Much for this excellent show! As Joe said, “We do not have a privileged access to reality.” Oh, but what a privilege it was to have a window into the reality of Joe’s life as a turkey. Your film shared Joe’s experience and revelations magnificently! It’s wonderful to experience such a profound understanding of another species. Outstanding work! Thank You Again!

  • John Nez illustrator

    Wow… what a fabulous Nature show. I was all set to be bored, but this program was a revelation.

    The astonishing revelations about birds and their innate inborn knowledge and language were amazing. When is was all combined with the gorgeous photography, it was totally stunning.

    It is SUCH a pleasure to see a scientist who is not obsessed with laying out a grid system and then counting numbers, (like so many of them tend to be). Here is a scientist who, like Einstein, believes that imagination is more important than information. I suspect he’s correct.

    The profundity of the conclusions that Joe’s film drew remind me of the next evolution of a Darwin or Rachel Carson. I can’t wait to see what Joe’s going to do with mule deer in Wyoming!


  • lazydog

    There is absolutely no doubt about what this program has done. Excellent job!

  • Jody Miller

    An awesome film indeed! It was so well recreated, such a great job! I recently watched PBS special on crows from start to end. I had seen pieces here and there in the past and I’d always wanted to see it all. My daughter has a strong facination with animal… especially with birds it seems. I noticed your crow episode is available on iTunes and I’m sure I’ll be purchasing that soon as she did not finish the film last night prior to falling asleep. Unless I over looked them there seemed to be many PBS Nature episodes not for sale on iTunes. I hope too see more available to purchase in a downloadable format. I know my daughter would love to see the PBS special on Macaws. Thanks so much for such great programming!

  • sandra longley

    A riveting program–however-now I will need to change my menu 4 Thanksgiving..

  • Mona

    This was for me, the best show I have ever seen on PBS. It was so intersting….I started trying to call everyone I knew to tell them it was on, but most were not available. Everyone who missed it wanted to know when it would be on again.Hopefully we will be able to see more of this amazing talented man….What comes next?

    I have since ordered the DVD and book. It will make a great Christmas gift.

  • Archibald

    Video won’t play on iPad.

  • Bill Nunnally

    Joe,I’m 62 year old grown man (in tears at times)that respects all birds,animals. I’ve also hunted and fished for at least 60 of those years. This is the best video program I’ve ever watched! It is not only a turkey lesson. Its a life lesson and what birds and animals can teach us humans. You and crew were brillant,thanks to all that made this possible. Thank You

  • Bill Nunnally

    Ok I hit a 6 instead of a 5 on that 60 years of hunting and fishing. lol Great show. I can’t get over how well you all produced this! ! have been around wild animals for a long time and their emotions,ways and sounds are well known to me. You have put this to film and voice perfect!

  • ginny

    LOVED IT. beautifully filmed. your film related personally to my family, as we had just “released” a wild turkey that we had raised from 2 days old to 6 mnths. was abandoned. my heart still aches for my little critter. the bond is intense. your film reflects our own experiences…although our turkey was raised with a family of 4, a dog and 6 chickens in suburbs of boston. little turkey would snuggle and sleep tucked in under our dog when he was small enough, just like a mom turkey’s protective wing. he dug in our garden, walked on the rooftops, & took long walks in the woods. just as you, we provided safety and the “lay of the land”, but he provided much much more. i love how you sum it up….the turkeys teach us how to live in the moment. there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, just now. you put into words what i had also been taught. i could get lost for hours watching him.

    the ending of your film and relationship with turkey boy, oddly comforts me. our turkey is wild, never meant to be a pet, or to live in my world. so greatful for the experience, and the lessons he taught. i know he will survive.

  • Chaina Nelson

    This video of Joe and ‘his’ turkeys just popped up on my monitor and thought I’d watch for only a few minutes. I watched all of it, and it was wonderful.
    Of course I felt so bad for Sweet Pea and wondered why would a ’son’ or ‘brother’ attack so visiciously and why he never returned??

    I live in the heart of the cement jungle and there’s no wildlife except squirrels and pidgons, but I would love a life like Joes.

    Really cool, I just loved it.

  • David

    Outstanding show. Very informative for a nature lover and turkey hunter like me. One question: why didn’t any of the toms have beards?

  • Audrey Heffner

    Someone gave me a turkey egg once, and I put it in an incubator as well. He hatched, and I named him Turkulese. He spent his entire life trying to see what I was doing or where I was, from back behind the fence at our place. We got him a wife when he turned sort of mean, and that fixed that, but the real problem was that he was a commercial bronze turkey. They’d bred the legs out of them, and one day he had an altercation with one of our roosters, and just dropped. Legs gave out. Commercial breeders made them all breast meat, and bred them to put on weight so fast that their legs just can’t hold them. I had to have him euthanized. He was only about 4 years old.
    Years later, I got another male domestic turkey, and he was just plain mean. At the same time, a girlfriend had a very friendly wild turkey female, and she gave her to me. The male was just too mean to keep. My girlfriend said, you know, if you get rid of that male, she’ll leave. I had no idea how right she was. I gave away the male, and that very night, the female took off for parts unknown.

  • PBS Fan

    What’s in a name? A few days ago I was browsing through my video recorder’s program guide, selecting stuff to record. “My Life as a Turkey” ??! Naaah. As it turned out, I just happened onto the show as it was starting and I was hooked. Wish I had saved it but I’ll watch it again online tonight and I’m ordering a DVD to give as a Christmas present.


    Comment to Audrey (November 18, 2011 at 11:10 am)

    I liked your whole comment, but I think maybe there’s a deeper message (guess I might even call it a “lesson”) in the last five sentences. (;=})


    My one word reply to all the people asking “What got into Turkey Boy?”: …… Puberty

    Just my guess. IANAT

  • Gisele Beaulieu

    This was the greatest nature show for me, being in Canada I cannot purchase the DVD they do not send international. Also I wanted to buy this DVD to send to a friend in Italy, the DVD would not work for region 2.

  • Brain4Rent

    Stunning program. And brilliance from a bird labeled stupid. When it was raining I half expected the turkeys to look up at their rain with their mouths open and drown, for that is the tale I was told so long ago about their lack of intelligence. I appreciate being corrected by such a beautiful film.

  • May Parker

    Most of my life I spent rehaibitating wild life..I felt his emotions deeply…
    This was very moving to mt heart…
    Loved it!!

  • Janis

    This film demonstrates that every animal is a unique being, complete with his/her own personality. If we humans would only see them that way, maybe we would stop killing them for food/fur/fun and allow them to live their lives to the fullest, as they deserve.

  • Pam E

    I was fascinated as well. I thought I was the only one who found wildlife, and animals in general, worth observing/caring for/learning from. It was astounding what was already in their genetic make-up (about predators, plants, bugs, flying) that did not need to be learned from the parent. I enjoy watching animals mature, so I relished the chance to see the turkeys grow and come into their own. I LOVED the show and i also liked the one about the “eagle” in the rain forest.

  • Elfie Sheldon

    I loved the show. I was very sad at the end though. Why did Turkey Boy get so angry vicious? I really could not understand the reason he turned so mean. Did his love vanigh into thin air? Why? I have many animals around, and I am very loving, the thought of them turning so mean is very scary. Is there any explanation?

  • Ngoc Y

    well done. My friend and I watched the show last night. We loved it!

  • Joe

    He needs a woman.

  • Pat H

    It’s hard to put into words the feelings one gets from such a fantastic program. The awe of nature, the power of millions of years of evolution and the hopefulness of mankind’s ability to learn and actually become a part of the natural world instead of the destroyer of all things is portrayed with expertise beyond reproach. A fantastic show that should be used to teach our children to become more than what we are.

    Turkeyboy eventually realized that “mom” was actually dad and attacked as a natural response designed to display his domiaence. Hence, two toms can not rule the same roost.

    My only issue is that it will be hard for those of us watched the show to get through Thanksgiving dinner! Bad timing for sure

  • mary jo knoch

    i have talked with so many people about this program. i love the responce from a turkey hunter, he was not suprised because he has always known he is hunting an animal much smarter than himself. thank you this has been one of the most peaceful and informative nature shows i’ve seen in a long time.

  • PB

    What an amazing episode. So informative and heartwarming. A new appreciation for the wild turkeys I see on the farm.

  • Carol

    This was the best show I have ever seen any where, any time. I just accidentally stumbled upon it on PBS and it captivated me. Everyone should see this! Joe is an amazing and kind-hearted man with an unusual gift. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us. I am not a person of words so let me say I am glad to read the rave reviews by the others and agree with them all. It is also unusual to see ALL POSITIVE comments about anything online!
    Cheers to you! I am buying the DVD for Christmas also and I am going to give donations to PBS from now on. I had been thinking about it, but this show is moving me to act. Keep up the great work (and try as you might you may never be able to top this!) This was the greatest ever. As you can see, I can’t say enough! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lori Coleman

    I do not understand hunters. How can you take the life of an animal so callously and easily and then say you love this film? It’s about life, not death. Why do humans continue to think it’s okay to kill other animals? We don’t need to eat them. So why? If a coyote kills a turkey, that’s fine. The coyote needs the food to live, That’s nature. But humans, we have grocery stores, with plenty of plant-based foods and proteins to sustain us. We don’t need to take lives. “One meal, soon forgotten, in exchange for a whole life.” Think about it.

  • Artie

    Lori, it’s still a tough thing for me to understand, even though I grew up around hunters, and even though I’ve worked in wildlife rehabilitation for quite a few years now. The very thought you articulate, “one meal, soon forgotten, in exchange for a whole life,” really struck me the first time I took in orphaned quail and considered the personalities and lives one would be extinguishing in an instant, all for the sake of some meat that wouldn’t even fill the plate. I think part of the issue is that it’s easy for humans to compartmentalize wild animals because they never share the type of intimate associations they do with their dogs or cats. That’s the privilege I’ve had in working with wildlife, understanding the complex emotional experience and now never being able to objectify any bird or wild mammal. I wish everyone could have that experience. There would be a lot more compassion for our wild brethren.

  • Naomi Cohen

    this video is so touching. as a vegan, i find this video delightful, and i hope people who watch this will think again about eating an animal to satisfy their hunger. they are living breathing innocent animals. don’t they deserve the right to live?????????????????

  • Naomi Cohen

    by the way, i love lori coleman’s comment. God bless you, lori.

  • Susan B.

    I’ll never view a wild turkey in quite the same way again. Thank you, Mr. Hutto, for your work and for sharing a very important wonderful message in such a touching way.

  • cognitogrrl

    Turkey Boy was reaching maturity, had stopped seeing his human parent as a parent; thus, he was “just another bird” that was male, and Turkey Boy was asserting his authority in his territory.

    Wild turkeys ARE wild, even though he cuddled them in his hand when they were little chicks. Wild behavior is what occurs. They’re not people, not even puppies grown up.

    THANK YOU, Nature, for this terrific program. I missed it on TV and was so happy to get to watch it here. My family has supported PBS and WKNO for many years.

  • brendan

    i’d love it if someone could post a list of the soundtrack. i know there was “little birds” by the be good tanyas, and i think i recognized sarah harmer and cat power.

  • Barbara Bowlin

    This is one of the best nature programs I have ever watched. It brought back some great memories of my childhood when my step-grandmother raised turkeys. Some of her turkeys were like children but the “Turkey Boys” could be very aggressive. It did not surprise me when Turkey Boy turned on Joe… Animals have instincts we cannot change.

  • biggie

    as a turkey hunter i look at em alot diffrent now it video blew me away

  • Eileen


    This is the bird that Nature created and i am so grateful for a deeper understanding of these creatures. The bird we all know on the dinner table is the one man has degraded. Is that really how we should be giving thanks?

    I don’t have a problem with hunting wild birds for sustenance and would rather a bird have a wild life and be hunted than to be hatched in a hatchery and live life on a factory farm. Factory farming is SICK and people who support it with their dollars need to wake up (sorry).

    Please give thanks to Nature for this wonderful bird, and all wonderful beings, by having a bountiful, delicious, vegan meal…and adopting a turkey this year.

  • Charlie

    Remember when all the males were fighting during mating season, and Joe said in words to the effect: “I had no idea how I was to become involved in this ritual?” He was referring to what would one day transpire between he and Turkey Boy and that was the instinct driving Turkey Boy. I have never been so deeply moved by a nature film as I have been moved by this production. This film deserves the widest possible viewership in an effort to better understand and respect all the creatures that share this earth with us.

  • blueoctgal

    Thank you for a remarkable study. Superbly done

  • Sharon

    My first pet was a chicken, I spent hours in her company each day. Due to her willingness and my tender age at 4 I was able to become immersed in hen reality. It forever changed my view of the world because I learned you can’t judge a book by its cover and if you are open to it you can see and experience a different reality. It is one of the things I find so appealing about being around multiple species, once you get the invite in Wow! (Your intention is the key to the invite.) I loved that he spoke of the energetic and “knowing” component that exists in this reality. I once had a couple of bourbon red – wild turkey crosses. My experiences with them was much like these birds. I loved this story because it was a life story.. a rich tapestry of emotions. One of the things I love about wild animals in a wild environment especially is their purity of expression.. they are always going to be who they are. They are not humans they don’t have the same emotional perspective. We would look at Turkey Boy’s behavior as confusing.. he simply grew up and grown up male turkeys behave that way.. any turkey would tell you that :-)

    I also see posts related to taking of life.. life on this planet lives through death of others be they plants or animals directly or indirectly. The turkeys enthusiastically took the lives of many an insect. As also stated by others for me it is about quality of life and death, I killed the children of my beloved turkeys and ate them. They had rich lives prior to death (not caged.) I had the privilege of sharing time with them. They were valued, appreciated and respected. They died at my hand in an instant without pain. A good life a good death I support that for all. If I had not raised them to eat they would not have lived at all. I rarely eat meat, in great part due to the environmental consequences of raising livestock. When I do I try my best to be selective about from whence it came.

    If one takes a life because they think they are entitled to, because they view that life as less than themselves it has diminished all involved.

  • linda z.

    i loved this program!! Joe’s comments about how the turkeys taught him about “living in the present moment”
    really resonated with me. Also, I wondered what it was about the tree stump that perturbed the turkeys??
    Kudos to the film crew–amazing job! Ths program is a keeper!

  • HndtoHnd (Barry)

    Mr. Hutto,
    I wish we were neighbors! I am in awe of your journey and you remind me of so many family members growing up in Florida myself. Good men who aren’t afraid to be sensitive while staying true to themselves and nature. The world could sure use a lot more people like you….

    I only hope that our paths cross someday soon!

  • Martha Sue

    Amazing story… I want my grandkids to see the show.. I used the DVR .. so they can watch… thank you for providing this for us…

  • jOe

    pro-choice (adjective)
    believing that enabling casual, irresponsible fornication is more
    important than protecting the lives of unborn children

  • Leslie J.

    BEAUTIFULLY DONE! I rehabilitate migratory songbirds, and Joe sums up so many of the feelings I’ve encountered caring for these creatures. Thank you PBS, thank you Mr. Hutto, for reminding us of so many things we tend to ignore or forget about the human condition and our place in this world. Again, this has to rank as one of my top 5 favorite Nature episodes…and I’ve seen them all, some more than once. Thank god for public television.

  • Dave S

    I hunt when I need food and can not afford to buy food from a store and l liked this show. Humans are omnivores, we have insizers and canine teeth for eating meat, our brains would not have evolved to what they are today if the human race did not eat meat. I have never taken the life of an animal callisly. I have eaten all that I have killed while thanking my brother or sister for sustaining my life.

  • Dayl D.

    wow… incredible show… so glad I “happened” upon it!
    the best and the worst thing about nature shows is that it isn’t hollywood…it’s real life… the good the bad and the ugly… it’s easy to assign human emotion to the animals we get involved with…but the truth is that they are wild animals period.
    Joe did a magnificent job of imparting wisdom and insight in the midst of breath taking videography. I’d love to see him in future specials!

  • Tiffany

    Amazing show. thank you PBS for touching our hearts. I dont know how Joe can want to do it all over, my heart sank with each of his losses, but rose with each joy. Looking forward to hearing about Joe and his adventure with the mule deers.

  • Jay C

    What a magnificent presentation and production. The ‘as it happens’ filming combined with very insightful as well as objective observations are brilliant lessons shared from such beautiful and trusting intimacy!

  • Sharon Ponsford

    Fantastic. One of the best shows you have done. We need more folks like Joe in this world. Wild animals are so amazing – and that includes turkeys. Each one is special in it’s own way. Thank you so much for the lovely program.

  • Sherlene

    Of course, Joe Hutto could speak to this, since I am only a casual observer. Turkey Boy had already gone through puberty, I believe. It seems, too, that he didn’t “display” to Joe. I think that, perhaps, Joe wasn’t able to fulfill his role as a turkey brother (not really being a turkey). By this time, Joe had stopped spending most of his time as a turkey, at this point, if I understand it correctly. However, I think that their relationship became a little neurotic. Turkey Boy knew it was time for Joe to go, for both of their sake.

    What a privileged experience Joe was able to have and we through him!

    A truly beautiful story! PBS does it again by bringing this to the general public.

  • Claire

    It was very thought-provoking. I can sympathize with Joe just a little bit. I know how it feels to lose an animal that you love. But to have been a MOTHER to that animal and then losing them–I can only imagine how horrible that was. While he certainly loved them, Joe didn’t overindulge in his charges. He didn’t treat them like human children, which most pet-owners can never do. Cats, dogs, birds, guinea pigs–a lot of favorite pets often become humans to their owners, which isn’t right. It was important for Joe to distinguish the difference among species and be able to treat them like turkeys, and I admire that he was able to do it when he was so close to them already. I thought that this program was really great. Please make more like this, PBS!

  • Sherlene

    I totally agree, Claire.

    However, I think that Joe Hutto kind of wished that he could have continued the relationship with Turkey Boy, even while knowing the reality that he couldn’t and may have missed a cue from Turkey Boy that it was “all or nothing” time. It’s just an uneducated hunch that I get. I gather that from the comment that Joe makes about turkey brother (wild Turkeys in their nature setting) being able to remain brothers.

    It is a remarkable story and a life lesson, for sure!

  • Kathi L.

    The cinematography was beautiful – fantastic!

    But I thought Hutto was a bit weird – a seemingly intelligent adult, spending every waking minute with a bunch of turkeys to the point that he believed he was their brother?! A kind of obsession. Next thing we know, we’ll be hearing about how he thinks he’s a mule deer’s daddy…

    Turkey Boy turned on him because he was following his natural instinct, to scrap with other males for dominance, as shown earlier in the program when the males were fighting with each other. Except in the case of Turkey Boy, there were no other real turkeys around.

    Remember the whale at Sea World that killed the trainer? Or Siegfried & Roy and the tiger? Wild animals are just that – WILD. Their instincts can’t be completely eliminated by training, or treats, or petting and cuddling. Or obviously, imprinting.

  • Bear

    Good program Mr. Producer. It didn’t look back nor forward – just a big view of the present – the way he said the turkeys live.

    Keep it up.

  • LAT

    Will this show be on again? cannot find another airing date

  • Jeannie

    Thank you so much for producing this incredible perspective. After I watched it I went to sleep and continued to dream about birds. I appreciate the dedication and commitment it takes to protect life, especially before adulthood. And then at some point there’s a shift, and you realize you’re getting just as much, if not more from them.


    And thank you for showing it before Thanksgiving. I already stopped eating meat years ago, and this reaffirms why I won’t be partaking in turkey on that day. Hope others consider making that choice too.

  • Dave

    This is a most amazing and moving program. The content, the photography, the audio, the editing, the choice of music are all superb, the very best. Could not be better. I love the approach of shooting from the shadow side of the subject. I cannot even begin to comprehend the amount of work and dedication that went into completing this unparalleled production. I congratulate you and express my deep appreciation. Thank you.

  • mark

    I learned alot about young poults from this show, the predation on them is the reason I keep predators elimintaed from our groves,we like to hunt our turkeys. As far as the tom attacking the guy no surprise here, in aug/sep the gobblers join up and do some serious sparring. BTW….these looked like oceolas, where was it filmed?

  • Bob Lewis

    Love this show. Will be back after 1st of month to buy the DVD and book for my grandkids and son/daughterinlaw.
    Everything about this show is top-notch. I watched it last night and letting my wife see it today.

  • Richard Baker

    November 21, 2011 I thought the program was photographed in a beautiful and imaginary way. My wife and I were glued to our chairs. Joe got to me with his utmost sincerety. We both were wiping tears several times, moved by the ability of Joe to tell his story with such honesty and humility. Congratulations!!! Bravo!!

  • Porovitch

    I was just clicking around and landed on this Nature episode…it was like walking in on a superb orchestra. Mr. Hutto is very special man — he was able to so completely share himself with the turkeys he stewarded, and to give viewers such an uncanny empathy for and understanding of his work.

    To echo earlier comments, this is the best thing I have ever seen on television; it’s left me overwhelmingly grateful to everyone involved. Thanks so very much.

  • Cameron

    To those of you whom question hunting and/or the need to eat meat. I am a hunter, farmer, and a college student studying wildlife management. I was raised to appreciate animals and nature through much life experience. I enjoy all forms of wild fauna and even though I hunt. It does not mean that I kill everything that I see in the name of sport or game. I harvest only what I need when the populations of whatever particular species I am hunting, can sustain the harvest. I am entering a career field that will allow me to “farm for wildlife”, this does not mean that my intentions are to grow animals to kill (as some of you may imply). Farming for wildlife benefits a wide range of species both hunted and non-hunted. Many proclaimed “animal lovers” omit the fact that much of the wildlife habitat conservation money has been derived from sportsmen over the past century. There are some hunters that give all hunters a bad name and unfortunately for some, it has become more about a kill than about the hunt itself. Hunting is not what many non-hunters believe. The few pictures of poorly placed shots and suffering animals is not the normal outcome of a hunting trip. For me, it is time spent outdoors, many times with family or friends, I am not a barbaric uneducated redneck out for bloodsport. I love sitting in my tree stand days on end, more times than not, without a harvest for my efforts. It is just as enjoyable to watch various wildlife and observe things that many non-hunters, never get to see.To hunt ethically and be consistently successful, it requires a deep understanding and appreciation of an animals habits, habitat, vocalizations, and being able to get around senses that are keener than our own. As humans in a modern era, we have become far too detached from whence we have come. Life and death are hand and hand in nature. In order for life to occur, a death is imminent in all cases, at some point. Even plants kill other plants to grow and survive. When a tree falls in the forest, it opens the canopy allowing light to reach new growth which would not have occurred without the death of another. Wild turkeys are generally short lived with greater than 60% surviving less than one year. This is offset by large clutches of eggs and therefore with good habitat (paid for by sportsmen and conservation organizations), turkeys are flourishing in greater numbers than ever before. I have never taken a life without remorse and appreciation for what it has given me. A death dealt by a human hand is more merciful than a death in nature by tooth and claw. My responsibility as a sportsman is to be well practiced and only choose to take well placed shots to minimize any chance of prolonged suffering. I am not the exception among hunters and find myself and these beliefs to fall among the majority. Instead of the anti-hunting movement, it should be anti-poaching/ canned hunt movement! Joe Hutto has done an amazing thing and I appreciate his commitment to this study, I do not mean in any way to detract from this great program.

  • Irene Kittrell

    Simply breathtaking. I’m speechless. Thank you, Joe Hutto. Thank you, PBS.

  • Jamie

    Three cheers for turkeys!

  • Jamie

    Yes, please post the soudtrack details. Thanks.

  • Rosalyn Robinette

    Maybe this sheds some insite as to “why” some wild animals who have killed their companions that they have gotten so close to,have ended up being killed by then. Joe got the best of the bird, but if it had been an Ape or Bear, he may not have been so lucky……….
    I did so enjoy this film and look forward to showing it to my grandchildren and great grandchildren….we can learn a lot from knowing other species.

  • Bootsie Notariano

    Neat!! Say Jamie, It sounded like Iris DeMent on the soundtrack!

  • Mary Lou

    Thanks Joe for the excellent study and your powerful dedication to wildlife. It was moving and educational. Cameron, thank you also for the benefit of your knowledge, experience and your perspective.

    I found out about this from my sister via email with a link to the site. I will pass it on to others.

  • Donna Howard

    I was so amazed by this young man who devoted his life to raising these turkeys. This guy was soo amazing to me I thank you for having him do his story.

  • Vicki

    Not sure what I liked best… Joe Hutto’s passion, the amazing video footage, or the soundtrack!
    Please post the soundtrack! One song sounded like Jolie Holland. I assigned this as extra credit for my students to watch with their parents. Thank you GPB, PBS, and Mr. Hutto!!!

  • M. Jane

    I watched the show on PBS and wanted to see the credits or get a soundtrack. Do the credits for the musicians and videographers exist? URL?

  • M. Jane

    Whoops, I see production credits. but only see Rob dunstone listed for music. would love to see a list of all the artists / be able to buy at least one of the songs from the soundtrack! Beautiful camera work. THANKS BTW

  • S Myers

    Thank you PBS for this great show and to Mr Hutto for living it. Extremely well done and has great music too.

  • Zigzag

    An amazing story, this is a must see!!!

    (Video quality good enough for viewing in full screen mode)

    Also – last song is beautiful – “Legacy” by Jill Barber”

  • Elton Hartzler

    When is it going to show again?

  • Darlyne

    Like others who have posted previously, I too am interested in the soundtrack information. I looked up “Rob Dunstone”, but I do not believe he was the artist for one of the songs that is played near the end of the film. Please provide more details about the music and artists involved. Thank you for a great film.

  • Pamela aka-Shyannelilwolf

    I was fasinated by this program- especially when the turkey knew the tree had been cut by man.I would like to communicate with this man who lived with turkeys with his permission.

  • Tumua

    Absolutely beautiful.

    Thank you

  • Texas Slim

    Why didn’t you kill every snake that threatened those turkeys?

  • Eileen Gunning

    I have raised domestic standards, broad breasted whites and bronzes, and heritage breeds for 16 years. My heritage and standard turkeys have shown a gift for flying. When they reach about 3 months ( turkey teens) they often are up on the barn roof in the evening if I am the slightest late with feeding!

    I usually get my babies from a hatchery, but they still imprint somewhat on me and my collie dog. Their language is extensive and I can usually understand them. It is with great respect and gratitude that I take them on their “one bad day” to the butcher. But I can certainly relate to the attack mode! I have lots of scars from when they reach ” a certain age”!

  • J.Re

    The music and song selection was excellent. I second the comment about listing the music and artist information.

  • Sherlene

    Today at my local library I found, “Illumination in the Flatwoods” the book that the show, “My Life as a Turkey” was taken from. I am only on page 31 and already it is one of the best books that I have ever read! Boy, we thought that the show was amazing, it’s only a thimble-full of the full story! Joe Hutto and his wife were living on a quail hunting plantation at the time. He actually got 2 clutches of eggs equaling 29 eggs (several days apart), successfully hatching 23 total. His true dedication is seen in (so far in my reading) 2 remarkable events: 1) the entire hatching took place over a period of 90 hours and he was present as each poult hatched during which he had to imprint on each one; 2) he describes a condition that can occur called “spraddle legs” . When the condition occurs he was advised that the poult would have to be killed because they would never be able to walk or stand. One of his poults developed the condition, but instead of killing it he holds it tiny leg in a corrective position, cradles it, and thus corrects the condition allowing the baby to stand and walk normally! This truly is an amazing story. Get the book!

  • Michael Schmitt

    I recently read Marjorie Rawlings’ novel “The Yearling” and was doubly anxious to see “My Life as a Turkey” when I saw that it was set in rural Florida. I had only seen the opening scenes when I rushed to email my brother to be sure to watch it too. He and I had gone to Rawlings home in Florida on a recent trip, so the visions from the visit and the passages in her book fill my mind while watching the show. To draw it all magically and improbably together somehow, I now realize that Joe Hutto’s last name is the same as that of a family in Marjorie’s 1938 novel. I can’t wait to watch all of “My Life …” and strongly encourage all nature lovers to read “The Yearling” as well.

  • Elton Hartzler

    When will it show again?

  • Elton Hartzler

    Anybody here know where the Flatlands is.

  • Elton Hartzler

    bayouelton at aol dot com if you do. Thanks.

  • Roxanne

    How extraordinary! What a perfect story for Thanksgiving. Thank you PBS for showing us something we wouldn’t have thought we needed to see!

  • BoogerShotBlood

    The song that plays when he eats the grasshopper is “A Kind of Peace” by Faithless ft. Cat Power.

  • Bart Blankenship

    I don’t even like TV. But what an inspiration! Thanks so much for putting this on. Brilliant! I can’t wait to hear how it is to live with the deer in WY!

  • robert! ^..^~~ L.


    I was mesmerized throughout this entire video. I grew up running the hills and mountains of Ventura County, California, backwoods of Connecticut, and lakes and streams of Minnesota, and I had lots of chances to see wild animals up close. This docu-video however, told me a lot about a bird that I have only just glimpsed in fleeting doses!

    Thanx, r! ^..^~~ L.

  • Greg

    I pretty much watch nothing else on television other then nature & science programming & this is certainly one of the finest shows I’ve ever watched. I am also an avid bird watcher & I have always liked Turkeys but really didn’t know anything about them until now. That being said, I ran out & bought the book the same night I watched the show & I am about half way through. As Sherlene said, the show only scratches the surface of the full story. A MUST READ!! Thank you Joe Hutto & PBS!

  • LIsa Ashelman

    Joe, How did have time to eat, keep your supply of food replenished, bath? Did you go bak to your cabin every few days?

  • Lori Parson

    Amazing turkey adventure. My girls (9 and 11) very much enjoyed the show. Will recommend this to many people.

  • Shane

    Is the photo on this page with you and the turkey looking at each other you or the actor who stood in for you during the film? Just curious. Thank you.

  • Sherlene

    I have just finished reading Joe Hutto’s book, “Illumination in the Flatlands”. It relates that Turkey Boy remained with Joe and his wife, Claudia, long after the fight were he spurred Joe and Joe whacked him with the limb. They returned to a loving relationship with him and when Turkey Boy finally “answered the call of the wild” they parted as friends.

  • Scott

    Just wonderful. Can’t wait to watch again.

  • pandora

    what a beautiful and touching film. i will remember this forever.

  • Berry

    This and programs like it are the reasons why I will always support PBS. I related on so many levels. Thank you, I needed Joe and the turkeys to remind me to be present, to see what I hadn’t the second before, to find joy in little things and to remember that I have everything I need.

  • Linda Kearns

    Through this program and Mr Hutto’s efforts I have been able to
    reach out and touch nature myself. Totally amazing show in all respects.
    And yes………I admit……….I cried. Thank you Mr Hutto and PBS for
    touching my heart.

  • Tammila Wright

    I’m so anxious to watch this! I just adopted a female 5 month old Great White turkey which we promptly named Mrs. T. I negotiated with her owner to let me buy her instead of killing her for Thanksgiving. I’m not a vegetarian but I still wrestle with a gut feeling that we should have evolved to the point that we no longer need to kill for food. I just can’t believe that Mrs. T’s only destiny was on a plate. I am told that hunting helps keep a balance. But when I look at the trophy stuffed head of a certain blonde elk that was hunted to extinction, I wonder if balance can ever be restored.

  • lil

    This was so awesome. This man just touched my heart – his love for those turkeys. His passion, his concern, his intimacy with God’s creatures. My little soul feels so tender right now. Thank you so much for allowing us to see this side of turkeys and humans. I feel like this man was selected especially by God to allow us city folk like myself to know how some folk can appreciate God’s creatures. Wow! I’m still awestruck by every little detail of the photography, the interaction with each of the animals and the bonding between him and those turkeys. Having a little pet bird myself in this inner city, I really can relate to the bonding with Sweet Pea. This is so real, so enchanting and so informative, especially to a senior like myself. Thanks!

  • Lori

    Amazing, simply amazing. Why do we think that it is necessary to eat other living, thinking creatures? Do they have no value?

  • Kamala Musshorn

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive learn anything like this before. So nice to search out any individual with some unique ideas on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this web site is one thing that’s wanted on the net, somebody with a bit of originality. useful job for bringing one thing new to the web!

  • Joanne Ingis

    We have a turkey too–just one. She was hatched in an incubator in our kitchen and is now 2 1/2 years old living in our backyard in a pen which she is let out of almost daily. This may be normal if we lived on a farm but we live in suburbia. Through our life with a pet turkey, I kept saying to my husband, “There is a children’s book waiting to be written about this turkey.” He’d respond, “So write it.” Diary of a Pet Turkey was published this past fall.
    My family loved your video. Of course, it really struck home. I think we, “birds of a feather”, should do a book signing together!

  • MaryAnn

    Magnificent!! One of the best nature shows I have seen. Very emotional. Thank you Joe Hutto. Without you, we would never know as much about animals as we do. Your dedication is admirable. The fact that you have dedicated your life to animals is remarkable. Keep up the good work. I would love to shake your hand. Job well done!!

  • minnesota bob

    This is the best nature show I havve ever seen. Turkeys as conscious entities. It works.

  • Shirley

    Watched this last night. So amazing. Nature is the best of His gifts to us. Very emotional.
    So glad I was able to catch this viewing, as my husband had seen it a few weeks ago, and had told me about it. I want my grandson to see this. Remarkable!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  • LOLhappy face

    HI! Shirley. Are you still on this site? I am bored and want someone to talk to.

  • LOLlesshappyface

    Why did you leave this site? I’m bored.

  • Greg Nester

    A very personal chance encounter with a large female Red-tailed hawk changed my life. Without going into a very long story this bird ended up influencing me to go back to college & I eventually earned a degree in Environmental Sciences. With my degree & my chance sighting of a Cooper Hawk helped save 10 acres of the little remaining wooded areas in suburbia where I live slated for a subdivision development (eventually purchased by my local municipality at a cost over over 2.5 million dollars) to be left as green space.

    This nesting site has been in continuous use by the Cooper’s since that time & is the only recognized threatened / endangered species in my municipality. I observed one of Cooper’s this week in a White Pine in my yard just this week – keeping tabs on my bird feeder. R/T’s also use this area to nest & while raking leaves a few weeks back on sunny cloudless day a few weeks back I noticed a pair soaring over my house. I whistled out their their soaring call (keeerr..!), to which I received an immediate return call & at the same time one of them wheeled over and did a low circle above me while continuing their fun in the sun.

    Joe touched on a subject that too often overlooked. Humans and wildlife are interconnected. In our fast paced modern society most people these days don’t make the connection. Making where you live more inviting to wildlife (planting native trees, shrubs & flowers) and/or digging out a pond helps restore that tie with the creatures around us. It is so important to turn off the tv/computer every once in a while to see what’s out there. You’ll be amazed at what you see & learn, best of all no commercials..!

    Joe Hutto’s story & the wonderful cinematography/soundtrack touched me deeply. It is also very important to realize that Republicans in government constantly look to cut funding to PBS and EPA itself. It is about dollars not sense… I don’t want to label all those in a particular party in a negative light, but largely true that the environment & programs concerning it are very low on their priority list. People who enjoy this type of TV programming need to keep this in mind during election time – best wishes to all who care…

  • rod minarik

    I watched the last 15mins with sadness, as a owner of many parrots, many years.. here’s life cycles, and they still are wild creates, things happen. I really want to see it from the beginning now.

  • http://monclerhomme,doudounemoncler,polomoncler,monclerfemme,monclerprix,monclersoldes,monclerdoudoune,monclerpascher,monclerparis,manteauxmoncler,moncleroutlet,monclerjackets,monclersale,moncleronlin manteaux moncler

    Useful information. Lucky me I found your site unintentionally, and I’m shocked why this coincidence didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  • sja

    What a wonderful film this is. The idea of living in the moment is so clearly and sweetly shown. My life will never be the same after watching this.

  • chrissy

    What a great film, I’m always looking for interesting turkey videos because I find them amazing. I have a pet bronze hen that I’ve had since she hatched and I love her so much, she has to “help” me do eveyrthing. She has to come in the house everyday and watch tv , terrorize the dogs and sit her big 30 pound self in my lap and go to sleep. She is smart as a whip and never forgets anything, as soon as I pull into the driveway each night she calls joyfully to me until I come open the barn door and let her hop into the house. I love her, so I’m glad someone else out there thinks these birds are awesome and not stupid.

  • Claudette Weggeland

    I have always felt a close relationship with nature, however you have far surpassed anything I could ever achieve. God bless you Mr. Hutto..I keep watching over and over again.

  • Cooper

    Why did not the camera guy or lady kill the freaking snake? Instead of filming the helpless chick getting eaten. Now the real mother would have killed that freaking snake, not watch it eat her helpless chick

  • Nick Burno

    Once I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you’ll be able to take away me from that service? Thanks!

  • Virgil Fiedler

    An fascinating dialogue is value comment. I feel that it’s best to write more on this subject, it won’t be a taboo subject however usually individuals are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  • Patsy K

    Just beautiful, what an amazing story. I really enjoyed it.
    But, did you have to eat the grasshopper?

  • Ashley

    This just warms my heartstrings. Back home, we have a few flocks of wild turkeys that we truly love. My grandfather had a love for them as well, and would go out daily to throw out a bucket of corn for them, so much so that one day over thirty followed him into the garage, as if to say “Hello? Would you please hurry that up?” Today, the tradition continues and my dad and the rest of the family feed them. They’ve become so accustomed to someone shaking corn out for them that they’ll follow anyone who walks out the front door. Interestingly enough, they’ve also started waiting for us, as well as surrounding the house and looking into the windows. I would no sooner hunt them or harm them than I would my cat.

  • Roger White Jr.

    wow… I’m an aspiring wildlife photographer…you have show me what a great place the forest can be

  • elk chess

    What Mr. Hutto did with these turkeys is illegal in my state. He successfully took the wild out of the wild turkeys. That is certainly nothing to be proud of nor is itin anyway instructive about wild turkeys.

  • Kunae Kim

    What a beautiful chronicle and profound teachings to live in the moment. Very moved!

  • Martha

    First, to the person who asked about the beard–in a shot in the beginning you see a turkey with a beard. They take a while to grow, so turkeys of the age shown in the program would not be old enough to have beards that are easily seen.

    To those who object to what Mr. Hutto did (specifically Jim Jones and Kathi) : look at the vast majority of comments here. So many people were moved, to tears, I am sure, by this chronicle. It’s obvious that by involving the (very large) audience so deeply into the lives of turkeys Mr. Hutto has done far more good than harm. Those who criticize what he did (with unpleasant ad hominem attacks, in some cases) should try to look at the big picture.

    And why criticize Mr. Hutto for spending so much time with animals and assume he doesn’t like humans? I don’t understand why people think that someone who devotes his or her life to animals and their well-being is someone who doesn’t care about people. Love is not something limited that you use up be giving it to animals. Love is infinite. Mr. Hutto is obviously compassionate and empathetic. I am sure he manifests that in his relationships with humans as well.

  • GuardDuck

    I shared in one of those experiences, “I will never see the world the same way again.”

  • Karen

    The opportunity to imprint on baby turkeys was something that needed to be taken. These are creatures largely unknown to humanity. Even though having the motherless eggs imprint upon a human is not the best world for the little turkeys, it was their only hope for life at that point, not to mention that it has imparted a glimpse into a world none of us would have ever had otherwise. Joe obviously made (and kept) a huge committment, one that most of us would not have kept so well. I applaud him for sharing this remarkable experience with us through PBS. I think perhaps we will come away with more respect for all life; for if the a “simple” bird like a turkey could shock us all with its ability to communicate and understand and garner emotions, then we can extrapolate that ability and depth to all animals.

    My family has hunted turkeys for decades, and although we knew that they were highly intelligent birds, none of us had any idea of their world. How could we? And yes, we’ll still hunt turkeys on the rare occasion….but we have noticed that they are not as numerous as they used to be, and we know that habitat distrubance is the main reason. Therefore, our turkey hunting has mostly ceased.

    And I will second the opinion above that folks like Joe (and myself) who spend much of thier free time with wildlife and in wilderness are often the ones who most love humanity and who know the profound joy of the world and all life in it, inluding our own species!

    Thank you again for this remarkable story and for sharing it in such an excellent manner.

  • Ed

    I wish I could have the connection with the wild animals that Mr Hutto has. I’ve had the pleasure of observing and even interacting to a small degree but his experience goes way beyond that. I do not believe that the wild turkey described in this video were imprinted in such a way that they were harmed. This is evident by the one female that went on to nest and lay a clutch of eggs and incubate them. The other indication being when he was attacked by Turkey Boy. That bird clearly was demonstrating his dominance over the good scientist. Lastly the birds over all dispersed and resisted contact with the human mother. This all took place without the aid of human assistance. I believe this points to the animals moving on just as nature intended them to.

    I would like to address one question that keeps coming up. Why would hunters watch this and appreciate it? I love animals and plants and all things that make up my world. I am a hunter. I am a fisherman. I am an omnivore. The latter is not something I chose it is what I am. From a purely biological standpoint we are omnivores because of our digestive system and our tooth structure. Some teeth are flat for grinding and some are sharp for cutting. We are supposed to eat a variety of food. Those who choose to be a vegetarian do so because of a internal need to break free from their nature. Now think for a moment all the comments such as “what did this man do to change the nature of the wild turkeys he was raising?” Well why on earth would you want to change the nature of a human? It’s the same thing. We are born this way and if you choose to do something different that is fully up to you but don’t try to make me feel badly because I am the way nature intended me to be.

    Hopefully I can comment on one last thing without this getting edited to death. Regarding the questions as to why do I need to hunt and not go to the grocery store to buy my food like every one else. Well for a number of reasons. One being the meat is so much healthier being full of vitamins and minerals and nutrients. Also it is free of toxins such as drugs. Also it is grown relatively stress free. Chicken that is sold in supermarkets for instance in all likely hood was raised in a cage barely larger that the chicken it’s self. This is an insult to the nature of the animal. Spoon fed animals that are kept for the sole purpose of consumption and deprived of being the free ranging creature that it was born to be. The hunter resists this and allows the animal to grow as wild and free as could be. We get to know the animal as intimately as we can so we can take what we need to sustain our lives. It is ultimately the most intimate of relations between predator and prey.

  • Kevin

    Amazing video but I wonder how many people will still have a turkey for Thanksgiving (and I don’t mean as a guest..)

  • yowu

    Back home, we have a few flocks of wild turkeys that we truly love. My grandfather had a love for them as well,

  • Mauricio

    I just loved this episode so much! I think I can go as far out as saying that this is my favorite Nature episode. I really enjoyed the story of Joe and his Turkeys.

  • turkeyboy

    I hope everyone who loved the show considers not eating turkeys again. Gobble Gobble.

  • David

    Now we have a better idea why Ben Franklin wanted the Wild Turkey to be our national bird, and not the bald eagle!

  • erin

    This was an AWESOME video. I loved it. A lot. I don’t care that some people don’t think it is a good video. I think they need to back off. It taught me a lot about wild turkeys, which makes me happy because some live on my road. I’m gonna make some turkey noises when I see them next! :)

  • thaddeus hudson

    I just watched my life as a turkey and It brought back many memories of my experiences as a very young child raising 3 wild turkeys. I allowed a hen(chicken) to hatch them and took them away from her as soon as they were hatched. We grew up 2 yrs together. It was 2 hens and one tom and they were my babies. They treated me as though I was mama and they followed me everywhere. I went miles in the surrounding woods and fields with them and I learned so much from them. I saw all the animals that were in the film I just watched and they had a special ability to find rattle snakes and other poisinious snakes and had a special call when they did. If they came upon a non poisionus one they called diffirently and actually teased and played with it some. When Tom was 2 he attacked me just like he did You Joe and I had to actually fight him off me or he would have hurt me very badly. I already was bleeding and so shocked by his behaviors that I could hardly defend myself. He finilly ran away and I never saw him again. The hens both nested and one was killed on the nest and all her eggs were destroyed. I learned that dogs followed my scent right to her. I stayed away from the other one a good distance and she hatched 14 polts and absolutely would not let me get near them. I lost track of them after a week or so and I never saw them again. The relationship with them changed me profoundly. I withdrew from people and found myself miles from my home almost everyday searching for them. It seemed the other animals excepted me somewhat while the polts were with me and though they kept their distance, I knew they werent affraid of me and looked at me diffirently than the other humans they came in contact with. I could talk on and on but I will say thank you for such a heart warming film and for bringing all these memories back to me. Good luck on your next adventure and be safe.

  • Mary Novak

    I loved this program. I grew up on a small farm with many animals and farm fowl. I felt a true kinship with the birds and animals, as I know did many of my siblings .. I almost felt at times like I was one of them.
    I truly believe that animals are more sensitive and in touch that many people realize. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, through the joys and sorrows it was so real. :)

  • Eagle

    It was great, although some parts were up setting in it.

  • Jeff

    I am amazed at how Spiritual this man is I would love to speak to him and of course his Turkeys

  • james

    Hi saw this on bbc in uk one sunday morning it was amazing, anyone got a link that will work?

  • Tracie

    Really wish I could share this with my Canadian friends. :(

  • Wanda

    It’s so sad that I can’t watch any of this… Is it because I am in Canada?

  • Gary in NYC

    What an extraordinary program, on so many levels. This was not your every day nature program. There were some aspects I expected, but quite a few that I did not.

    I really didn’t know what to make of this human imprinting upon the birds. At first I thought it careless, in that these birds were given experiences they weren’t meant to get and denied experiences they were meant for. I hafl expected there to be examples of the negative side.

    But something remarkable happened. Yes, these birds were given less, but they were also given MUCH MORE. They benefitted from getting imprints from each other, so it wasn’t like one human and one animal. And even more so, they come equipped with so much knowledge already, augmented by their experiences as they live from day to day.

    The cycle of life… the children grow up and they leave. With some species, they disembark never to return, while others may stay together or reunite later on (like elephants). Turkeys head out and go their own way, and don’t keep long term friends. Joe sure found that out first hand, transformed from friend to rival in just a matter of moments as “Turkey Boy” makes a realization.

    Thanks for this wonderful program. I’m going to let all of my nature friends know about it!

  • Ashe

    I posted this when I shared this link on FB: “……wow………for anyone who has, or is, sharing a path thru Life with a Bird……or anyone who, despite their giggles, knows WHY I am called ‘the Crazy Chicken Lady’ by some who have met -but don’t KNOW- me……you MUST see this video……..ONLY YOU will understand what I mean…… (this vid is SO FAR BEYOND the meaning the recent & awesome DUCKumentary had for me……and WILL BE ALSO for you.) If you know who I am- then you know who YOU are….”

  • Erik Kolakowski

    What Joe did is remarkable. Without his efforts we never would have found out how profound and intricate the turkey is. By being their mother Joe gave us a truly unique opportunity to see the world in a non humanistic way, something that is almost impossible. It is only understandable that Joe’s connection to the birds grew so strong. The bond of motherhood is one of the strongest and if you noticed the comments above it has invoked many an emotional response. I have watched turkeys in the wild many times and wondered about their habits. This film has given me a deeper understanding of the what and why of their behaviors.Thank you Joe for your amazing efforts and insights into the world of a turkey.

  • Sharon Enzweiler

    This is most significant……I was moved and inspired……

    Just thank you for easily some of the most exceptional and worthwhile moments I have experienced.

  • Dan

    This guy told us more about spirituality than they do in Church. The Hindus are right about not eating meat. We in the West need to look at the world much differently and PBS is a great help to us.

  • Max

    This was one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time. The cinematography, the music and Joe’s views on life were simply amazing. I loved how he explained that the turkeys lived in the present moment and how the future was an abstract concept to them. My wife and I were glued to the television for the entire documentary.

    Congratulations .

  • Kevin de Queiroz

    I found at least a partial soundtrack here:

    Eels: Blinking Lights (For you)
    Sylvester Weaver: Guitar Rag
    Bob Dylan: Main Theme (Billy)
    The Be Good Tanyas: The Littliest Birds
    Sonny Terry: Sonny’s Squall
    Faithless: A Kind of Peace
    Bob Dylan: Cantina Theme (Workin’ for the law)
    Jill Barber: Legacy
    Rob Dunstone: Various tracks

    The Dylan tracks are from the soundtrack album for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).

  • Marcia

    This show was absolutely wonderful, and I hope millions of people see it. It is so good to see people who learn and grow by associating with animals and who show us that those animals are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. Thanksgiving was a great time to show it–maybe more people will consider giving up turkey in the future. The other creatures in the show were beautiful too. Was great seeing them in the wild and nonthreatened.

  • Ed Levy

    Did miss something or did the film explain how, if Je was alone with the turkeys, and didn’t see another human being for a year, this whole beautiful astonishning story made it onto film? Was this a recreation of his experience with a previous group of turkeys, when he actually was entirelyalone?

  • Tallulah

    I was happy to see wild turkeys portrayed as intelligent creatures who react positively to nurturing…who even had a “language”. Of course I knew better than to watch any Nature episode as warm and fuzzy is always balanced by stark reality.
    It bothered me that these birds were imprinted when Joe had to know that eventually they’d be ‘released’ into a hostile environment. I was even more disturbed by Joe’s honest description of how he grabbed a piece of wood and hit Turkey Boy on the side of his head “as hard as he could”. Couldn’t Turkey Boy have been mortally wounded by such a blow? How do we know he wasn’t…that he didn’t run off and die? Did Joe hit him with such force because he thought it was either TB or him, was he simply angry, or could it possibly have been for TB’s ‘own good’, to break any bond he had with humans…a bond Joe had created! Yes, TB drew blood, but as i recall Joe’s narration said ‘even drawing blood’ as though drawing blood justified Joe’s reaction.
    I’ve been attacked 100s of times by our parrot (parrots usually bond with one human and i am not ‘his human’). He always draws blood, and often goes for my jugular. Yet it would never occur to me to hit him. While a wild turkey could certainly do more damage, I think Joe could have maintained a defensive position until TB went away, and then either moving away to his next project, like he did anyway, nor take some other non-violent protective measures. His retaliation was disturbing.

  • Jose diaz

    So… Yea it was a good show really enjoyed it until the credits rolled in so yeah the dud lives now with mule deer oh how cute another redneck soap opera., I think I will skip the mule deer show and wait for the one were the guy lives underwater with the killer whales and sharks feel jealous

  • Tom

    I am unable to watch the full episode. Is it because I am in Canada?

    Please tell me it’s not only available to US residents, PBS!

    I saw only a part of this last night and it was amazingly interesting.

  • Chris

    Hunting as a “sport” needs further scrutiny. They teach children to associate killing the innocent with adult approval, which has made a subculture of psychopaths. Despite their self-aggrandizing claims like, “we control populations,” their true motives are revealed here, and we’ve all seen the, far more often than not, bloated white people posing gloatingly in photos standing “triumphantly” above pitiful corpses.

    They view any natural predator as a competitor and want to see them eradicated—see what‘s currently happening to wolves. Humans thrive without killing while evolutionary predators cannot.

  • marty

    If anyone out there would like to ’sample’ the movie, the solution is clear…Raise Chickens!
    They are just as smart, and if free-ranged, just as remarkable.
    Plus they feed you eggs, in turn, you provide them shelter and food. Win-Win.
    Great movie! All the idiots out there lambasting Joe notwithstanding…
    Jealous, shallow, petty fools, like Mr. Diaz above, dropping “redneck” language.
    He cannot stomach the fact that us WASPS are more in tune with nature than anyone else…
    My birds are more well trained than most dogs, give a heritage breed chicken your consideration…

  • Philip gregory


  • A Scientist

    When will Nature and Public Broadcasting realize that they don’t need to anthropomorphize animals in order to “sell” them to the public. Shows like this diminish the value of the scientific method. Turkeys don’t have emotions. Turkeys might imprint to you but you are not their “mother” to them. They are not hatched “knowing what to eat and what animals are safe”. If they were they wouldn’t have been dying on you so much as they would have “known to avoid their killers”. While I value your film as what it is…essentially a Disney-like fantasy film…it is utter nonsense, unscientific, and utterly unworthy of Nature.

  • Patrice Wolf

    The best nature film I’ve ever seen!

  • frank

    It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve watched a program that grabbed me, and touched me the way this did. Unreal.

  • Perry Austin

    I watched the Nature show of ,’My Life as a Turkey”. It was amazing. I usually surf through the channels and came upon this program by accident. I like Nature but I don’t always watch it. Since the story was filmed in rural Florida I became interested. Rural Florida or Georgia are familiar to me. But it was the story of what this scientist discovered about wild turkey’s that kept my attention. I tried to change the channel several times but something would not let me. This story was just too good. I realized it was more profound than I first realized. Mr Hutto’s experience was personal. Through his humanity he was able to touch something far deeper than most folks experience. He was able ‘to be’ another life form in his mind and find out what that means. He was able to cross that wide boundary between human and bird and get a glimpse of being a turkey.
    Once again PBS and its programming remind us of the very best that television has to offer. PBS puts us in touch with our world, how complex it is but,also, how marvelous .

  • Lily

    Thank you BBC for a perfect recreation of Joe Hutton real life story. Thank you PBS for broadcasting this great nature episode. To Joe Hutton: I can’t believe a man like you can have a mother instinct so perfect, so patient and dedicated more than a year of your life to raise and protect them into adulthood without affecting their wild turkey nature.

  • jane

    What a wonderful experience and great video work….

  • Ed Kramer

    Dear “A Scientist”, So, “Turkeys don’t have emotions.” I think you need to speak to someone who knows more about this than you do. This film was not meant to deal with the scientific method. As for anthropomorphising – are you claiming the turkey’s behavior was made up and staged? Have you never had a companion bird? You could learn a lot from one. Mine is perched on my computer as I type. He likes to be with me – flys to my shoulder when I enter his room. Why couldn’t a wild bird experience affection? Maybe you need some!

  • Ken B

    One of the best Nature programs I’ve ever seen. Besides the amazing story, I found the photography (cinematography) to be outstanding; there were numerous shots that I would love to have framed and on my walls.

    I disagree with “A Scientist:” the turkeys WERE hatched knowing what to eat and which animals are safe (or a threat) to them. Didn’t you watch the film? Joe didn’t point to grasshoppers and tell the turkeys they were safe to eat; the turkeys knew it and gobbled them up. Sure, a few of the turkeys were killed by predators but it was not because the turkeys didn’t realize a danger. It’s pretty hard to “avoid” a rat snake when it crawls into your cage while you’re asleep and eats you.

  • Sayward

    “A Scientist” is so profoundly wrong that it only serves to highlight why our world is in such a mess right now – it’s due to the narrow “scientific method” that is utilized by so many narrow-minded “scientists” that the world is in such danger of being destroyed by ourselves. Clearly he has spent little time in Nature and knows next to nothing about it. I say this as one who spends TONS of time in Nature and know that it communicates, it has a collective and individual aliveness and conciousness of which only a small percentage of humanity is aware or can hear or communicate back. Methinks the “Scientist” is afraid of a world he cannot explain, does not understand, and is beyond his realm of knowledge and connection. “Scientists” used to think the world was flat, too! And that the sun revolved around the earth, and that there was nothing faster than the speed of light….and on and on.

  • Trevan Lam

    This show was awsome. I saw it on tv on wedsday.

  • Mr. Big

    Hey “Jim Jones” and “A scientist” and others like you. Get over yourselves already… it’s a damn turkey for Pete’s sake! Not everything has to be “scientific”. Jealous much?

  • Jules

    Please could you tell me of this will be airing in the UK again or whether it will be available as a Region 2 DVD? We loved the programme and would love to watch it again. Many thanks.

  • Maria

    When I try to play the video of “My Life as a Turkey” it says it’s not available – is there a glitch or is it due to not living in the US? I would so love to watch it as I’ve seen a few clips and my parents watched it and thought it was brilliant.

  • Lori Woods

    I’ve been volunteering at an animal sanctuary recently. The turkeys are some of the most interesting animals I’ve encountered. I have a new favorite animal!

  • denise

    I live in Canada, and you will happy to hear that this video was shown on the French TV with translations. It is an exceptional and very realistic video. I truly enjoyed watching it, even though some parts were very sad. I will never look at a turkey the same way, and I have not eaten turkey since.
    Congratulations to Joe Hutto for his big heart and admirable understanding of nature.

  • A non-scientist

    “A scientist” – ok, so how do you know that? It’s so typical scientists shrugging off the idea that animals have emotions just like humans do.

  • Paul Grajnert

    My students and I watched the movie. We enjoyed it a lot, but have one question: Was the turkey that got killed by the rat snake actually killed? And, if so, what are the ethics of killing an animal for entertainment. Wondering if Mr. Hutto or one of the producer’s could answer our concern. Thanks.

  • victoria

    My science teacher mrs jones let us watch this in class it was so kool I loved it so much. It is really amzing what he did for those turkeys. I hope that everyon else loved this video as much as I did :-)

  • Meg Sloss

    I enjoyed this program immensely. The sensitivity and patience necessary to observe nature is a rare talent. I felt happy the whole next day knowig there are other worlds and other gentle realities right here under our noses, and it just takes the willingness to discover.

  • Pakelekia Kaona

    Oh my how I laughed! and was a bit teary eyed too.. poor Sweetpea! there are now 16 wild turkeys tromping through my property daily, I’m getting so much entertainment from them and trying to “speak turkey: thank you Joe Hutto! it seems as if the young males have suddenly been thrown out of the main group, although before the exodus there were at least five males and eleven lovely ladies. Those older fellows with the long hanging dangling do-dahs from their faces must be very proud and happy. I hope to see many clutches sucessfully emerge later this spring. More turkeys !!!

  • Robert S.

    By observing nature we should come to know who we are to be; that being a son or daughter of the living God who made all things to be loved and appreciated by us. They are to have their ultimate joy by being loved by a person who truly understands the incredible gift from God they represent. Make no mistake about it though, since the beginning of such a tragic human history, we should have been the lords all creation and must still rise to that level. Nature is our text book; we have our own destiny to be humbled masters in true love over all things. A human being is not only of the physical realm but exists in the spritual realm as God does – our loving parent. Great job with this story and many thanks to our loving creator who knows so deeply how to love us through the turkeys but will teach us through the same of our proper role and position. Looking through these videos, it becomes impossible to think that nature has come about by chance or through a course of random events.

  • Diane mueller

    Thank you Joe ….. I am a vegan because all life maters and all life is important …. A blessing …. You are my hero for living a life of love that I have and can only dream of
    Thank you for your compation friendship and love of all life ….. I hope one day to meet you.
    Forever ,
    Diane Cortright Mueller , Mt Airy Maryland

  • TJ Smith

    One of my favorite PBS specials ever. As one who has hunted these wonderful animlas (notice hunt not kill), I’m even more impressed and humbled.

  • snj

    This was a very good piece. I enjoyed watching the re-creation of one man’s unique, personal, emotionally-heavy relationships with a group of turkeys. It is always interesting to see inter-species relationships develop into something inexplicably moving, touching, heartfelt and deep. This makes me appreciate the natural surroundings and other species with which we share this planet even more. Nicely done, Nature.

  • sylvia-maria schmitt

    Dear Robert, I love your message and saved it. so beautifully said!!!! You are obviously a very nature connected spiritual person. Thank you for making my day. Sylvia

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.