My Life as a Turkey

Watch a preview of the PBS Nature film My Life as a Turkey:

“Had I known what was in store—the difficult nature of the study and the time I was about to invest—I would have been hard pressed to justify such an intense involvement. But, fortunately, I naively allowed myself to blunder into a two-year commitment that was at once exhausting, often overwhelming, enlightening, and one of the most inspiring and satisfying experiences of my life.”

–Joe Hutto, Illumination in the Flatwoods

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.

Deep in the wilds of Florida’s Flatlands, Hutto spent each day living as a turkey mother, taking on the full-time job of raising sixteen turkey chicks. Hutto dutifully cared for his family around the clock, roosting with them, taking them foraging, and immersing himself in their world. In the process, they revealed their charming curiosity and surprising intellect. There was little he could teach them that they did not already know, but he showed them the lay of the land and protected them from the dangers of the forest as best he could. In return, they taught him how to see the world through their eyes.

Based on his true story, My Life as a Turkey chronicles Hutto’s remarkable and moving experience of raising a group of wild turkey hatchlings to adulthood. My Life as a Turkey airs Wednesday, November 27 at 8pm EST (check local listings).

  • Susie

    I am really looking forward to this program. Sounds like a great adventure.

  • possumdog7

    now that’s what i call engaging in life. first being keen enough to grasp the opportunity when it presented itself then willing to take the risk of being hurt knowing those birds had to grow up but in the end being so rewarded by the experience. bet it beat hell out of playing numbing video games for a year!

  • Carroll

    I didn’t write a book about it but when we bought a property with a pond on it, I bought 2 dozen day old Mallard Ducklings. I opened the box they came in, talked to them ‘duck talk’ for about 20 minutes and then took them for a walk thru the yard. They followed me instantly. I took them to the pond and they went swimming while I waited like a dutiful mother on the bank. When it was time to go, they came when I called except the one or two that had to have just one more splash. I would have to start for the house with the flock and then when the two laggards saw we were leaving, cheeping wildly, would run to catch up with us. This became a daily ritual. The day came when they would no longer come out of the pond at evening when I would usually put them in a large cage I built to protect them from the raccoons. From then on, they were on their own. They finally discovered they could fly; this part of raising them I failed miserably at teaching. They would fly very low, sometimes only 6 or 8 feet off the ground. We learned a great deal from watching them grow up and the next spring mate and raise families of their own. One pair made two nests and the drake hatched the eggs in one while the hen hatched eggs in the other only a foot or two away.

  • Will

    Several years ago I read Joe Hutto’s book, “lllumination in the Flatwoods” when doing research on turkeys for a Wildlife Management Class. It reads like a life story and gives amazing insight into the way wild Turkeys interact with the environment. In dealing with wild animals you will always find something surprisingly amazing about them. I can’t wait to see the video.

  • Judy Pedersen

    In one place it talked about a 2-part series. When is the 2nd part going to air? Thannks.

  • Reid

    Can not wait for this show to air – I live on a farm near Durham NC where I raise geese and wild turkeys. The fun is to watch the parallel lives between my domestic geese and the wild turkeys that sleep in the same pen at night but you can only hear in the light. The domestic geese have a larger body and supposed brain, the turkeys are more aquiline and a garden pea sized brain – both are amazingly adapted for the life they lead. It is strange that we humans have lost so much and not adopting to environmental and emotional issues like other animals. At three days old the goslings automatically know how to use a cinder block as a step to get into the wading pool – that shows abstract logic. The turkeys and the geese are great friends – I wish I could get close to the turkeys as I do the geese. One can only develop respect for the wild and how they have an amazing native intelligence right out of the shell…most people I know never develop this. I am amazed every singe day that nature has trusted and allowed me this luxury. Right out of the shell every bird has a different personality – with my geese for the first three days I can tell their gender buy their behavior…

  • Leigh

    Carroll and Reid: It would be so great if you two would write books about your experiences. I, for one, would be delighted to read those books, and I’m in good company: check out the many comments responding to this “Turkey” show, from viewers both at home and on the other side of The Pond (I think BBC2 produced this show initially), and you’ll get an inkling of how much interest there is in animal tales these days. Grab a pen (or a PC, I suppose)!

  • Leigh

    Dear WNET-Thirteen,

    I’ve noticed in several places that others share my curiosity about how Hutto’s story was re-created here on film. Is there a ‘making-of-My-Life-As-A-Turkey’ short somewhere to be found, or in the works?

  • Swampturtle

    “My Life as a Turkey” is based on an excellent book

    ” Illumination in the Flatwoods” – by Joe Hutto

    Wonderful read.

  • Rivkah

    Watching now, utterly fascinating. Hutto is an affable, intelligent and engaged scientist and relator of these events. Charming program.

  • Jim

    Came in 15 minutes late….but got absolutely hooked.. Great story, Spectacular photography.

  • Luclarie

    Amazing show!!!


  • Larry

    Beautiful! The most compelling thing I’ve seen on TV in years!

  • Mary

    What an amazing story! We enjoyed every minute of this program. Thanks PBS for bringing this quality programming into my home!

  • casey52

    Watched My life as a turkey and as usual the show was great. I’ve always believed that animals are more than just simple creatures, that they have feelings and bonds that maybe we don’t understand. I take my dog hiking on the weekends to a large state park here in Michigan and never feel as good as when I’m out walking in the woods in the fall. Thank You Again for a great show.

  • Donna

    Beautiful, well done show! Loved it!

  • Deb French

    What a great program… Photography was fantastic on our HDTV. I’d watch it all again and again!

  • David G

    Loved it !!!
    One verse from the Scriptures came to mind :
    Mat 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

  • Jan

    After watching the story, I now understand what has happened to my two young males. We became friends about a year ago and they came by to visit every morning and late afternoon.Like clockwork. They followed me around the property talking and strutting. Suddenly they stopped coming. I was heartbroken, thinking something happened to them. As I listened to Joe’s story, I knew exactly how he felt when his friends left and never returned. It’s a sad way to part but Joe’s parting with Turkey Boy was the saddest. I am thankful mine was uneventful.

  • Ally B

    I just finished watching and loved it! Thank you PBS for introducing me to Joe Hutto and his work. This film beautifully illustrates Mr. Hutto’s unique story of compassion and connection with nature. I admire the dedication put forth in order to share his story. I enjoyed getting to know Mr. Hutto through this lens, and feel for the inevitable loss of his beloved companions, most notably Sweet Pea and Turkey Boy. This story is a lovely account of the depth of relationships that humans and animals can share. I can’t wait to read the book!

    PS: The site crash at the end of airing shows my enthusiasm is shared among viewers : )

  • Mike

    I heard the TV ad of “My Life As A Turkey” while in the next room several days ago and thought,you’ve got to be kidding me. A day or two later I saw the commercial and that got my interest up. I did not remember the time of the show so I missed the first eight minutes, much to my dismay. I was standing in the dining room when I heard a soft spoken voice,talking about turkeys,coming from the living room. I went to the doorway to see what it was all about. Still standing there,I realized that Joe was telling about going back the next year to check things out. I had not moved for more than 40 minutes, but had watched intently. I can’t explain my thoughts of the show any other way. What an awe inspiring story. Thanks Mr.Hutto for the moments you took me away from this crazy world ….into nature.

  • Wendy Meagher

    I watched this show on PBS this evening and was so amazed how intelligent wild turkeys actually are. My thanks goes out to Joe for giving the public such a wonderful story of his experience with turkeys in the wild. It makes one appreciate wildlife even more.

  • Beverley

    This was a delightful and rivetting film. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it, except when Joe ate the grasshopper. But it was truth. The photography was beautiful and sensitively done. And the ending although a surprise to our human nature was definitely totally true to nature and it’s creatures. One has to seek out your path yourself and to live life to the fullest. Fabulous film. I will read the book for sure. Thank you for this thoughtful program.

  • kay wimberly

    This was one of the most interesting programs I have ever seen! I was totally captivated by it all. Thanks to Joe for his dedication to these magnificent birds – and providing me a glimpse into their world. It takes an exceptional person to do this, and you are that person Joe! You have a gift, and are using it well.

  • Vicki

    What an inspiring story! The beauty of the relationships were an extraordinary example of living in the moment. Precious and touching event.

  • Ray

    One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Mesmorizing.

  • Greg

    I think I should eat pork this Thanksgiving.

  • Lee

    One of the best “Nature” episodes I have seen. Fascinating birds, great narrator and excellent photography.

  • Ray

    Oops. Mesmerizing.

  • Melissa

    Joe Hutto aptly described the awe of raising a wild turkey. We took in a wild turkey chick about 3 days old (looked like the 1-day-old turkey chicks in the show). Conrad (”Connie”) imprinted on me. We kept him in a cage in my home office at night and let him out during the day. He followed me everywhere, purring and whirring and clucking. Some sounds Connie would make I did not hear in the TV show. He used to whistle 4 short whistles for attention when he was in the cage. I would put him down my shirt so he could walk around my waistband and fall asleep. We took naps together and hunted bugs together. When he got big enough we let him stay outside all the time. He showed us when he was ready to roost in the trees. He had a “starter roost,” a low branch in the tulip tree, and graduated to higher and higher roosts. Eventually, as with Turkey Boy, Connie began attacking us, but he never left. He let me kiss his head and pet him, but he also pecked my legs. Last Tuesday at the age of 1.5 years, Connie was hit & killed by a car in the road in front of our house. I am heartbroken. So blessed to have learned from Connie, though I do not condone taking in wild pets and would never do it again. Seeing the TV show helped me relive the wonder and amazement at watching that wild creature grow up.

  • rose

    I MISSED IT!!! Heard it was awesome, moving, inspirational….will it be on again? How can I see it?

  • Melissa

    You can search on to find out when “My Life as a Turkey” will be on TV near you.

  • Connie

    Best show I’ve seen on TV in years.
    You aced this one PBS.
    I must confess I am a wild turkey addict (no, not the liquid kind). I have been raising wild turkeys for years and they are forever hooked to my heart. Once you’ve raised them, then can you truely understand and appreciate their unique qualities.

  • Jenni McCloud

    That was perhaps the most engaging and wonder_ful nature show I think I’ve ever seen. I was captivated, with my emotions up and down with joyous laughter and then some tears (both joyful and sad). Jeeze, well done.

    One of my farming activities is raising 60 or so chickens on my farm for eggs – the old fashioned natural way of them just running around the yard, running over for treats every now and then, and I’ve become quite a bird fancier. I know the connection that Joe describes as he’s interacting with his birds. It really is something… makes you full of awe. And not so superior.

    The galliformes (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, etc.) are not at all stupid creatures. On the contrary, they constantly talk amongst themselves (not just chatter, but real communication), and each one of them has a different personality, just like a person… or a turkey, I can see now, for that matter.

    I’m so glad that folks got a chance to see how magnificent our wild turkeys are, which I hope might just lead to more awareness and outrage about how poorly we treat their close cousins, the chickens in our food “factories”.

    Hum… I’ve always admired Benjamin Franklin for his sage advice, and I think he was really onto something about turkeys being our national bird. Fascinating creatures.

  • Jordaan

    This was the unexpected surprise of week, month, possibly year?? Truly Amazing. I am so fortunate I found this show “flipping”. I can count how many hours of TV I’ve watched on one hand over the past few years but in my opinion, this show is the best of what TV has to offer. Truly inspirational! Thank you Swampturtle for recommending his book. I just found out it’s on again late tonight and I’ve got a few more people interested in staying up with me to watch it again. So good! Thank you for this!

  • Buchiekay

    This is a great movie. I just wish more people would watch this to see how God’s animals are so content.
    We as human-beings don’t take the time to enjoy nature the way it was ment to be. We are always trying to change things. I think its time to slow down and look around to see how wonderful life really is.

  • sonya

    Wondering…since Joe had such an intimate relationship with his Turkey brood why didn’t he band his turkey youngsters so their eventual outcomes might possibly be traceable. .

  • Jim

    A simply remarkable production, beautifully photographed and compelling in its content. I was mesmerized and highly entertained!

  • Frank

    Fantastic story. Captured my attention immediately. Great story with beautiful filmwork and editing. Thanks to Joe and PBS for a great final production. Made my night!

  • Johnny B.

    Want the video to share…great story. The true Nature Man

  • Anthony

    This show was completely mesmerizing, the story compelling, the emotions gripping and the photography bliss.
    WELL DONE! Thank you, thank you thank you to all involved.

  • Rick

    Wonderful! Absolutely Wonderful! He received a priceless gift that can never be duplicated. He accepted the gift and the responsibility with a mature understanding of what he was given.
    Thank You Joe for sharing this with us!

  • fcruz

    I’ve always enjoyed Nature but this one the best episodes I have seen. Beautifully done!

  • Sharon

    Fascinting, inspiring, AWESOME !!!…I love all of nature and enjoy any programing showcasingl the world and the various creatures who live in it. I am especially fascinated with birds and especially those of the “Gallo” family, the pheasants, turkeys and chickens. What a wonderful experience to share the intimate life of the young turkey family’s journey through their young lives… and and to share in the delight and discoveries of Mr. Franklin….His insights are remarkable……I never realized how much inate wisdom they took from the egg to guide themselves…and their ‘mom’ through their young life. A wonderful presentation, brilliant, what more can I say……Just loved it. More programming of this caliber. PLEASE !!!!!!

  • SC

    just watched the premiere of this program on PBS. It’s very unusual that a program like this is able to single-handedly dismantle one’s perceived reality of man’s world in relation to the animal world. Be warned – this one can – and *will*. It’s not a bad thing – quite the opposite, I suppose. It’s just very powerful; and you will not likely view the animal world the same way again. The complexities and similarities to our own world are quite striking. What an experience this man has lived – absolutely riveting to watch. I must say I watched this program with almost a degree of envy, for he was afforded a very candid peek into a world very few will ever experience.

    When it’s all said and done, as a human being, you’ll probably feel a little less relevant to this world, ultimately. But not in a bad way, I would hazard to say…

  • Patrick

    I really enjoyed watching Joe Hutto, stick it out and spend all his time incubating the eggs, to hatchlings to full grown birds. The closeness and bonding he experienced is beyond measure. A once in a lifetime event.
    His interactions with these simple creatures created a special relationship adding to his life tremendously. One he will always treasure.
    I think this is what God has in store for us when He makes things Whole and New again.
    Great job in bringing this to film. I enjoyed every moment of it except for the deaths and departure of the birds.

  • verbaud

    Exquisite program. I am reminded of a poem by Denise Levertov called “Come into Animal Presence”. Basically, they have been here all along in their quiet majesty. It is us who do not see or have forgotten what is right before us.
    What a beautiful story. I can see why Ben Franklin wanted this awesome bird as our national symbol. I will watch it again.

  • Mulu

    Great story, amazing pictures and what a commitment! Thanks for sharing on TV.

  • Gary

    FANTASTIC production!! Probably the most enjoyable hour of TV I’ve ever watched.

  • Muhammad

    Truly an amazing experience. Joe is a very special person to so affectionately care for these birds. We should all appreciate God’s creatures like Joe does.

  • Muhammad

    Joe’s lesson learned from the turkeys of living in the moment and enjoying life today, instead of hoping for what the future may hold was very potent.

  • Jean

    Beautifully written and filmed, a heartwarming story.

  • Dave

    Excellent program, and much more interesting than many would expect. Nature, and PBS Nature are irreplaceable treasures!

  • Vince F

    Loved the show…

  • Richard Fey

    It was fascinating, educational and interesting . . . also moving . . . but I keep wondering how they “re-created” for the video without rehatching the eggs!!!!???


  • GubmintCheeze

    Thank you for this enlightening, beautiful story. One of the most magical films I have ever seen. It should be required viewing in every elementary school. Hope it wins many awards. Wishing Joe, all involved in its production, much success. Soo very special!

  • Rachel

    I love all the Nature programs, but this one in particular was magical. The camera work was outstanding. What amazing insight into a bird that most of us think of as an ugly stupid bird. I will tip my hat to the next wild turkey I encounter!!

  • Eric S

    What an extraordinary, beautiful and touching program. I started calling people after the first minute or two… It’s one of those programs about which I think to myself, without articulating it per se, “I should watch this repeatedly to make sure I retain this…” This is a very thought-provoking film.

  • Elaine

    I agree with all the comments about how wonderful this show was. We have wild turkeys in our area and I know they are very wily, especially during hunting season, but this show vastly increased my knowledge of, and respect for, this amazing species. Any information on how the re-creation was filmed would be appreciated. I’m guessing you maybe got eggs from someone like Reid who raises wild turkeys?

  • Alice

    This production was one of the best I’ve ever seen–all superlatives apply to everything about it. After reading the Production Credits, I too would like to know more about how it was produced. Was the actor Joe Hutto or was it someone else? The camera work was fantastic. Were those shots of the original 16 turkeys or from somewhere else? Any additional facts about the production would be great. Thanks again for a fantastic experience.

  • jacc`e

    Hey, Bird. (Joe) Thanks for sharing! If only We All could experience such a journey, & have Our Spirits / Souls touched in such a way. ( I see what job you’ll be doing in Heaven, I only pray I’m under your supervision. ) I am content with only the company of a Hybred Wolf. I chose the responsibility of caring for her as long as she’ll have me or pass. She is the most loviingess creature, and gentle soul. I want to make her totaly happy one day & find a place we can live where she can be her true free self. Just hanging with Echo…..

  • Brystal

    Our whole family loved it. Wonderfully filmed and written. Even my 4 year old was entranced, and we were all a bit teary-eyed at the end. A fascinating story.

  • Natalie

    For two years, wild turkeys have been coming to our yard (Massachusetts) each spring with their poults. Interacting with them has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life, and watching this wonderful show proved to me that others appreciate their intelligence, personalities, and instinctual abilities. I find them simply fascinating, and I love reading all these comments about others’ experiences with them. Thank you !

  • Ruth

    I was mesmerized throughout the presentation. It was so wonderfully presented and heartwarming and I was saddened to hear of Sweet Pea’s demise. Mr. Hutto is a tender soul and I’m planning to read his book.

    Being from Texas, I’ve had the priviledge to see wild turkeys and thanks to you, I’ll watch for some of the traits that were so graciously given in this series. Maybe I’ll learn to talk turkey.

    Thank you! I look forward to another series from Nature and PBS.

  • Elena Amico

    I absolutely LOVED this program. I live in Staten Island and we have a flock of what theyre calling hybrid wild turkeys. Everyone is trying to get rid of them because they complain about the droppings and the fact that the flock keeps increasing. I love them. They’re harmless and beautiful to watch. Must we eradicate every last shred of nature in the city? Anyhow, the only worry for me is the babies falling in storm sewers and the flock getting hit by cars. They wander all over the neighborhood. Local officals and the dep are suggesting not so nice alternatives and have refused many citizens offers to take the birds and relocate them to their farms upstate. It would be so helpful to have an avian expert in this field ensure that the beliefs the govt is putting forth as road blocks to safe alternatives for these birds are, in fact, true.

    Thanks again. I find the same observations since I live with them every day. They definitely have a language!

  • Naturegirl

    Loved this story. Amazing how the turkeys would play and cuddle. I woke up this AM and went out on the deck and what was in the yard……….a wild turkey! I looked at her with a whole new understanding! Thanks for another great show.

  • Elzan

    A wonderful story! Did I miss the credits for the photography?

  • Jeanne

    Glad I tuned into this story. The turkeys caught me up in their life. Their curiousity amazed me. I would honestly watch again and again. Thank you.

  • LeeAnn

    Loved this so much, shared the link on Face Book this morning, rethinking my Thanksgiving plans…

  • Janie

    Absolutely awesome!! I am a horse owner and all-around animal lover and this show captured more than just the ‘how-to’s’ about raising turkeys, it allowed us to see inside of their minds and hearts and teach us that these wonderful creatures are more than just birds-of-a-feather! Joe Hutto was kind enough to allow us access into his mind and heart in raising this family and I am an instant fan of this guy. Thank you, PBS!! I cannot wait to see it again with my Dad!

  • Mary

    Without doubt one of the best Nature shows I’ve ever seen. Simple, beautifully told and photographed, and deeply wise. Broccoli for Thanksgiving, anyone?

  • Jeff

    Does anyone know about where this was filmed? I went to college in Tallahassee and just love my memories of the old live oaks…

  • Sarah

    What an incredible show! I will never look at turkeys the same way again. The footage was so amazing! One of the best shows I have seen in a long time. Made me realize that I need to get out of my head once in a while and connect back with nature. Beautiful story and love, trust, and companionship. And thank you for showing this before Thanksgiving. People hopefully will appreciate this beautiful animal more.

  • Mike

    I’m a 51 year old man and I thought I was going to lose it. I cried and laughed and was more entertained by this story than any other movie or show I had ever seen. This will stay with me for the rest of my life! Very moving.

    PS Joe, promise me you’ll never turn into another Michael Moore.

  • Jason-SW Florida

    What an outstanding program. My 15 year old animal-lover daughter and I were glued to the TV last night. It is a must-see for everyone of all ages, and it is refresheningly far off the beaten path of today’s grunge TV. Well worth the watch. Thank you to everyone involved in producing the show, especially Joe Hutto.

  • Vicky

    I absolutely loved this beautiful nature program. My husband missed it and I have just got to get a DVD and Joe’s book. Joe is so genuine in his love and appreciation of these beautiful wild turkeys. His commitment to the wild turkeys has totally captivated my every thought today and will be a part of me forever. His tenderness and compassion was expressed beautifully. Thank you Joe and PBS.

  • John

    I want to thank you for putting together such a remarkable story for us to see. We missed the first 15 minutes but were glued to our seats. I just ordered the book and video. I want to share this with the family. Absolutely fantastic ***** 5 stars

  • Chuck

    I just want to say this was one of the best shows I have ever seen on any channel. Thanks Joe for taking a chance on being a Turkey parent you were the best one I have ever seen. God bless you and your bird buddies!

  • Rick Shepherd

    This video about the simple Turkey is the most profound and inspiring nature study of its kind I have Ever seen!!!…..Looking forward to Joe’s story of living with the Mule Deer in Montana!

  • NC

    I am not a nature person, I’m a hard core city girl, but for some reason these commercials sucked me in. I LOVED this show and now I am not going to eat turkey for Thanksgiving… Maybe never again.

    That being said, I REFUSE to become a vegetarian so PLEASE DON’T SHOW ANYTHING like this about cows or pigs or chickens!

    Great show!

  • NC

    I am not a nature person, I’m a hard core city girl, but these commercials sucked me in.

    I LOVED this show and now I am not going to eat turkey for Thanksgiving… Maybe never again.

    That being said I REFUSE to become a veretarian, so PLEASE DON’T SHOW ANYHTING like this about cows or pigs or chickens!

    Great show!

  • Patty

    I was stunned at how prehistoric the young turkeys looked….! Really like dinosaurs! I loved this program, I intend to purchase a copy for myself and my daughter who is overseas.

  • Cypher

    Warm, intelligent, engaging, moving, and evocative. I have got to get the book for this one. Brings to mind Goodall’s journey with the chimps or Fossey’s with the gorillas.

  • Canadian John

    This was an excellent program. Heartwarming, heartbreaking, beautiful and stunning. I would definitely watch this again (may need to buy the DVD). Should be required watching by all. Humans are not alone on this earth and must to respect the other life forms.

  • Robert Smith

    While the show was very informative about wild turkey behavior, I found it had a subtle anti-hunting bias. Hutto refers to the turkeys as “affectionate” and “intelligent”. The tendency to imbue amimals with humanoid characteristics plays right into the hands of the PETA anti-hunting agenda. At the film’s ending, when Turkey Boy viciously attacks him, Mr. Hutto ignors the obvious conclusion that turkeys are neither affectionate nor intelligent, but like most other animals are simply prisoners of their own genetics and hormones.

  • CR of Detroit

    This is a must see for all. It should be provided to schools at the grade school level to create the caring individuals needed for our futures. Poetic

  • Brian

    This was an excellent story, beautiful cinematography, and there was a lot of important information about a bird that can be misunderstood or confused with domestic turkeys. I enjoyed the interaction between Mr. Hutto and the wild turkeys and the way his relationship with this bird helped him to see his own life in a different light. It was really great that in the end he finally realized that this is truly a wild bird… and nature in the end will always be the victor.

  • Rob Allen

    Re: Robert Smith

    I certainly didn’t get any anti-hunting impression from this show. Virtually every creature is indeed “intelligent” and “affectionate” as these traits are somehow inherent to survival and not simply some human province. In fact, it is the anthropomorphization of these qualities that harms your argument rather than supports it. I have long laughed at my fellow Americans for thinking that it’s okay to eat a cow because it is somehow “dumb” and “ugly” while we are horrified at the slaughter of horses simply because they are seen as “smart” and “beautiful”. I’d bet that many people reading that sentence reacted strongly to the even the mere mention of slaughtering such a glorious animal as the horse. Nature makes no such distinctions and simply puts everything on the menu. If you look at animals and DO NOT see intelligence, emotion, affection, and even other more nebulous human-defined behaviors, then you simply aren’t paying attention. The world is a range of colors, not black and white, and humans have no proprietary ownership of any particular trait or behavior. We do have a combination of certain traits that seems to be unique amongst Earth’s inhabitants, but virtually all of those traits can individually be found elsewhere in nature. It is our particular combination that makes us so powerful and adaptable and which also makes us so incredibly dangerous to both ourselves and all the living systems we encounter.

    I am not a PETA member as I totally dismiss their arguments that we shouldn’t eat things just because they are smart or pretty, but it’s just as bad to use the same argument to support hunting and slaughtering (i.e. that animals must remain stupid and ugly so we can justify shooting and eating them). What you eat should have nothing whatsoever to do with your false and biased impressions about its intelligence or beauty as these are ridiculously human-centric concepts. You should eat whatever is ecologically sound and healthy for you. If there are lots of turkeys, perhaps because we have reduced the predator population below a healthy threshold, then by all means you can eat some turkey. Hunters today fund much of our wildlife conservation programs and the obvious intelligence and affection of turkey has nothing to do with anything.

    This was an incredible show, by the way. One of the best things I’ve ever seen, in fact. If more human beings would try to learn even just a little more about nature and ecology, we would have a *very* different relationship with our planet’s fellow inhabitants. We’d still have to eat some of them, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether we appreciate that relationship. In fact, most native cultures cared a great deal about the animals they ate or killed for other reasons and some peoples even worshiped those creatures as live-giving gods. Their esteemed impression of the creature’s qualities were a *result* of their hunting, not an obstacle to it.

  • Rob Allen

    We are also similarly bound by our genetics and hormones. Yes, we make conscious choices, but biologists have virtually infinite evidence of animals making similar choices and many of those choices can only be described as “conscious”. Perhaps they don’t have the degree of consciousness that we do, but that doesn’t mean that they are unconscious at all. There is no consciousness “switch” that gets thrown only for humans, but consciousness exists across a wide range, just like every other trait categorized by human beings and long highlighted as “things that only humans do”.

  • Chris

    Thanks so much for this experience. Finally someone is showing the true understanding of what goes on in the life of animal. I myself have lizards and until I got cared for them, never thought that they could have an individual personality, joy, understanding of me and their surroundings. Lizards are far from empty headed, stupid and scary creatures. If more folks could experience this consciousness with the natural world this planet wouldn’t be in so much trouble

  • Ed Sprouse

    Wow – I was blown away by this program. Hopefully, those who watched will think twice before putting a turkey on the Thanksgiving table this year.

  • Sarah Paterson

    I’m in love! I watched the show with my 19 year old daughter last night and we were both touched and inspired. It’s good to know there are people like Joe in the world.

  • Anita Malinski

    I was not able to watch this on TV last night, so I watched it from the website today and loved it. One of the best NATURE films ever, though I watch them all.

  • glenn sharron

    well done, Joe… from your friends in Tallahassee and Buckhorn Creek. Hope you are being equally as successful with the mule deer up there.

  • Jana Mahannah

    As I was flipping through channels I stumbled upon this right when these lil’ guys were hatching, and I was hooked. I got so involved and thought that maybe I was their “aunt” I loved the way they took to Joe, and followed him around everywhere, just like little humans…sweet pea, all of them…I loved listening to Joe tell the story, and found myself sobbing at the end…after becoming so emotionally attached. Will be watching this again. Thanks Joe.

  • MVH

    Robert Smith above is wrong. He has little understanding of certain birds’ social characteristics and the importance of the group.

    Loved the show, your voice. The way you walked through the grass was so careful, calm, and conscious. Just watching you lead them so well was worth the hour of my life. Nice.

    I have had turkeys along the watershed in my backyard for two years now. And, they are very smart as evidenced here:

  • Royce Mulholland

    I watched the show and absolutely loved it. I liked the scientific side of it, but also thouroughly appreciated the insights from Hutto regarding animals living in the moment and how the ability of humans to plan ahead can inhibit their ability to do this.

    I was puzzled by this question however:

    Did he imprint on another group of turkeys for the making of the show? I guess the answer would clearly have to be yes. So did they allow a snake to swallow one of the young turkeys during the “chicken coop scene”? What about the scene where he has to bury the two because of some mystery illness. Did he spend another year or two out there to make the movie?

    I am very curious about this so if anyone has any insight, i would greatly appreciate it. Overall, the show was really top-notch and i probably won’t erase it from my DVR for a very long time.

  • Al Schmidt

    Super-Cool show. My kids & wife loved it last night, and then when we saw it was on again, everyone demanded we watch it again on WOUB here in Athens, OH. Very interesting and entertaining; we were wondering which parts were filmed at the time and which were re-created. Now I’m thinking most of it was re-created/filmed??

  • sheila richards

    I truly loved this show. It not only showed us the “nature” of the wild turkey, but Joe interjected a piece of knowledge he gathered from his experiment living w/the hatchling turkeys. They live in the moment, never in the past or projecting into tomorrow or the future, which is something we could use in our busy world today. I delighted in the whole experience, since my neighbors and I “live” w/the wild turkey and deer around St. Francis Village. My compliments and thanks to Joe for his insight and sharing this special project with us.

  • PBS Fan

    ‘Illumination in the Flatwoods’, had a review written in 1997 for Smithsonian Magazine. I guess the book was so well received (for example, of 21 reviews on Amazon, ALL 21 gave the book five stars) that they (Joe and his wife, Leslie ?) decided to do a video re-creation.

    What a great story! I saw the show; going to buy the DVD; I’ll order the book. Where do I get the T-shirt?

  • Peter O’Malley

    One thing that perplexed me (in addition to what it would be like to live a year with only turkeys as companions): where did the black-tailed deer come from? Florida is in white-tail country, and the black-tail (actually a subspecies of mule deer) lives on the western slopes of the Cascades). Yet he did refer to blacktails, and the deer in the show were not whitetails. were they introduced? did they escape from some ill-advised private hunting preserve?

  • Catherine E. Manning

    WOW !!! Absolutely fascinating, and wonderful (in the true meaning). Beautiful photography et al. The patience of doing something like this, with all involved, does not go unappreciated by this viewer. This kind of programming and experience makes me love life. To me there just isn’t anything better than knowing all we share the earth with. Thank-you X 100.

  • Jessica Nickerson

    I have always been fascinated by wild turkey’s. And now I am in love!

  • m wolpert

    where filmed. north central fl alachua county or very close

  • Stamatia

    I’ve seen this twice now on my DVR.

    The commitment by this naturalist to the responsibility of raising these turkeys was amazing.

    Many of us may have pets which have lead us into the internal lives of animals but that doesn’t seem to compare to the relationship with a wild animal and a real need to develop functional communication and societal structure for survival in the wild.

    Birds (possibly the surviving descendants of dinosaurs) possess an intelligence that is significant and yet unlike our primate mind. Yet the communication was established and this naturalist was able to communicate in turkey speak, and they responded in like-kind to him.

  • Raquel

    Loved it ! Hate that the last turkey that stayed turned on Mr. Hutto.

  • John Hamilton

    My experience comes nowhere close to this, but the story reminds me of when my dad raised German Shorthaired Pointer dogs. I stayed up most of the night when the puppies were born, played with them as they grew, mourned when most of them were sold, and grieved when the ones we kept died. I miss the way they explored our 3/4 acre fenced -in yard, but their exuberant, relentless joy at being let “out back” still warms my heart. Their immersion in their immediate surroundings made me immersed as well. I went out back one day with Helga, the mother of all the puppies, to hunt crows with a record player-loudspeaker record set my dad had, with a record of crows calling. It worked that first and only time – crows are very smart and learn quickly. I shot two crows. The look of disgust on Helga’s face when she dropped the two crows at my feet was priceless. The message was something to the effect of “Don’t expect me to do this again!”

    This program was really touching. It may go a long way towards “imprinting” in humankind the severe limitations of the way we live in the modern “dominion over nature” mass industrial world. Forest fires, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, droughts, ozone alerts, drying-up aquifers and depletion of the oceans haven’t slowed us down a bit, but the superiority of the natural world might. As I watched this show I wondered how long it would take before developers would destroy the natural habitat of these great birds and other wildlife for extremely temporary gain. I suspect it is only a few years. Of course, nature will win in the end. It’s just a mater of with us or without us.

  • jennifer

    I enjoyed this show. And it gives me even more reasons to add to the many many reasons to be vegan/vegetarian. Always tofurky for us at thanksgiving!

  • Scott

    Using a two different brand new laptops, cannot get the video to play on any browser and I’m 10 miles from your studios.

    Something isn’t working right!

  • DebMercerRI

    Compelling and personal story… demystifies these strange birds… especially fascinating for those of us who see them on a daily basis… and gorgeous photography… we loved this episode!

  • Lisa

    This program was fantastic. I caught a re-run last night, and from the start, I couldn’t look away. I cried like a baby when he discovered that Sweetpea (I think that was her name) and her eggs had been killed. Funny how you can become so attached, even if it only through the television screen. I have put a link in my Facebook page to recommend this to my friends. Well done!!

  • Bonnie

    Had trouble with the ending. No insight is given into why it happened. After such great communication between man and bird, for the ending event to occur was truly shocking. I felt kind of emotionally ripped off. He didn’t even interpret the event, except briefly, in the two lines before the ending event, which I will not specify here so as not to spoil the film for people who will read these comments before seeing the film.

  • Kim

    I thought the filming was magnificent! How did you do it? It reminded me of the History of Chickens another great piece. You folks at PBS are the best! I too have a relationship with wild turkeys. It started about 3 years ago when I had lost a pet and noticed an injured turkey in the fields at my house. It was a hot summer day so I put out water and food and the relationship grew from there. The brood is usually about 7 or 8 strong. The injured bird, his nameis Hop-Along, is now known to my family and friends. Although I have never touched him we sit very close to one another and like Joe having that intimate moemnt with SweetPea, I too look into Hops eyes and feel a connection. I have seen the fighting up close and it is fierce (the program gave a very mild interpretation of a fight which is good) it gets very ugly. Joe also shed some light on all the communication and the sounds I hear but never understood. I know every time Hop and his buddies do not show up at 6:00 am I get very worried, but it is nature and we canot and should not get in the way of a perfect world. One answer I was hoping to get from the program but did not was why they have this interesting behavior of walking in circles around each other. Typically one turkey, who may be resting after eating, will stay still while another turkey will walk in circles around the sitting turkey, over and over and over again. THe sitting turkey will try to get up but the other turkey will stay close and follow it and walk around it – it’s almost like when your big brother drove you crazy by repeating everything you say. It is some sort of ritual if anyone knows what it means please let me know. Joe if you reads these, you are fantastic and have the courage I wish I had. Thank you!!

  • Lodewyk Lemmer

    will you air this agian? I would love my two grand daughters to see it. I have the book, but at their age the film is much more acceptable,

  • Jane Clark

    I loved this show as well and would love to see it again. I would love for my grandchildren to watch it. I was so sad when Sweet Pea was killed but that’s nature and some wild animal had it’s belly full that evening. Amazing show and I love all nature shows…………my favorite.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Great show! Sad to see Turkey-Boy leave in the end though.

  • Karen Bailey

    We live in an area where there are some turkeys and have enjoyed watching them over several years. My husband has hunted them a bit in the past few years but after watching that amazing and moving broadcast I know he’ll have a different respect for those interesting birds.
    Mr. Hutto’s devotion and gentleness with the turkeys was nothing short of beautiful, “man at his best”.
    I would say, the quality and depth of this show was nothing more than amazing. A repeat would be more than welcome. I told many friends about it.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Harry Brown

    This is a fabulous program and I will get a copy of the dvd. I am a hunter and have been since childhood. I did not however see or even hear a wild turkey until I was well over 50 years old. The restoration of the wild turkey by the National Wild Turkey Federation in conjunction with state wildlife agencies is one of the most dramatic programs ever under taken. These efforts to save millions of acres of habitat and improve them have brought this wonderful bird back to population levels not seen for over 150 years. By doing this many other species have benefited. If you have never heard the thundering gobble of a boss turkey at sunrise on a crisp spring morning then you are missing one of the most thrilling events in nature. The hook for hunters is that you can mimic a hen and get a direct response from the gobbler. Getting a response and getting a shot or even a glimpse of him are different things. I don’t measure a successful hunt with toting a bird home but rather one when there is interaction with a wily adversary . Thanks PBS for such a fine program and the stimulation of interest in the wild turkey it brought.

  • John Connolly

    This is perhaps the most astonishing nature show i have ever seen.


  • M Jarman

    What a fantastic show! I wish this was “on demand” so I could watch it again. Thank you for such an enchanting experience.

  • DannyDep

    In recent failed attempts at communications with other members of the homo-sapien species I find it more rewarding to be in touch with other animal types.
    I have been called a turkey many times in my life. But after watching this show, I can now say that I am proud to have been called one.
    Sure the scientific community calls this type of relationship imprinting.
    But let’s call it what it really is regardless of whether or not it is among one species or across several as in this beautifully delivered story.
    It is about love; responsible love at that.
    I never felt strange for talking to the animals that I would come across during my daily walks in the park.
    And now I have even more evidence to back up my feelings.
    Geezzzz!!! Have we lost our spirituality? I hope not folks.
    Thank you Joe for taking us on such a enlightening and fulfilling journey.
    ciao, Dan

  • Traci

    I was able to get close to a raccoon of all things. I live in the city, and one early morn I was sitting on the front porch watching things get moving. I heard a loud high pitched scream from the apartments across the street. This man had opened his door to get the paper, and a baby raccoon (do not know how she got there) was curled up at his door sleeping. She rolled onto his feet, and he was scared silly. I ran in back and got a fishing net and then across the street and scooped the baby up in it. The man was very grateful and embarrassed at the same time..haha. Anyways, that baby girl (named Bandit) spent the next 6 months in our home. She played with our dogs, and took a liking to my fathers’ head and he would walk everywhere with Bandit curled up like a hat (think Davy Crockett). My father loved scaring people, they would remark on his strange hat and Bandit would lift her head to see who was talking and the person would be scared and my father would laugh…
    At about 6 months my father had built a wood cage for Bandit in the back yard, as we started to see a different side to her. She would hiss and claw the dogs now, so no more playing there. She spent more and more time up in the maple tree in our backyard. Sometimes she would still lay in our laps but my father told us girls that we could not pet her anymore (she had started nipping, and those teeth are sharp!) He told us it was time to leave her be and I was heartbroken. But my father was smart, he knew Raccoons have always been and will always be WILD and no matter how much time you spend with them, they will always turn wild again. Bandit refused to come out of the tree one evening to go in her cage so my dad left her there and the next morning she was gone. She did not come back until late the next spring. I was in the kitchen washing dinner dishes and heard a familiar chortle on the back porch. When I looked out I could not believe what I was seeing, I called my family to the back door. There was our Bandit, come back to visit and she was not alone. She had brought HER family to meet us, 5 babies . It was amazing to see them playing on the porch and in the back yard, we never went outside though. If we opened the back door Bandit would hiss and the kids would run to her so we stayed in the house. It was enough for us that she loved us enough to let us see her and her own kids. She did this for another 6 years, bringing her babies and parading them up and down the driveway and in the back of our house. My father, being raised on a farm had raised all kinds of animals and he knew at what age a raccoon matures and he was very careful with us and Bandit together. And I was happy to get small glimpses into their world and other animals we took in over the years (squirrels, rabbits, chickens, possums and many others). Living in the city, it is not easy to see or have animals like that as pets even for short time spans and there are city codes that forbid keeping wild animals. I will never forget though, watching my father walk around with a living hat on his head and I think both he and Bandit loved the surprised looks on the faces of adults and kids when they discovered it.

  • Jen

    This was by far one of the most captivating shows I have ever seen. I will definately be asking for a copy for Christmas! So sad, but quite interesting!

  • Jenna

    I accidentally turned this on when Joe was cheeping at the eggs, and they were cheeping back. My jaw dropped. Of course I knew they were alive in the egg, but that they could make sounds? So amazing. After that I just sat there watching until I couldn’t ignore my hunger any longer and I left the room to go downstairs and make dinner. When I got back Joe was laying on the ground bloody from being attacked. I missed so much. I don’t know what happened so I will have to check to see when this airs again. I love seeing grown men connect with tiny animals. So touching. We fostered some very tiny kittens, which needed to be bottle fed. While we were waiting for them to reach adoption size they cuddled up with my work at home husband while he worked at the computer. He was a living cat tree and the would spend the whole day in his lap or crawling down his shirt to hang out on his hairy, warm chest. He bonded so strongly with them that he was hinting to keep all three of them except that the voice of reason (me) intervened and said no.

  • Rosalyn

    Such an amazing story!! Although I didn’t like the end but makes me understand turkeys better. Amazing graphics btw!!

  • John

    Are these the Osceola or Eastern Wild Turkeys?

  • Anthony

    I did find this show interesting, but I kind of ame upon a problem with it. The show obviously had to be recreated, to get the shots that they did. One scene shows a snake eating a young bird. This would mean that they would have purposely fed a chick to a snake to get that shot. I understand animals have to eat, but this mean that they would have had to basically kill an animal for a shot, on purpose? Is that even legal? For a moment I thought maybe it was a dead chick they fed it, but from my understand prey needs to be alive for snakes. Just some thoughts I guess.

  • James

    Yes Anthony, I thought the same thing! It didn’t at all seem to me that the man involved in this would want to recreate that snake scene. Very strange. Otherwise, very good program.

  • Susan

    I am not in any way, a nature lover. Admirer from afar is all. But my husband is. I happened to wake at 5am. Flipping channels and was fortunate to come accross this episode. It was so well told and recorded. Being a photographer, I was moved by the visual scenes. The scenery and lighting were wonderful.
    I was very touched by the whole relationship between him and the birds. I found every word of his discovery of nature interesting.
    I am emailing the link to this to by husband and work and will be showing this to the grandchildren when they come to visit.
    Thanks for waking me up to nature.

  • Dawn


  • Jeanne K

    This was extraordinary! I can’t stop thinking about it 19 hours later. Even my two cats enjoyed it because it focused so much on the actual birds. It is interesting that an actor prtrayed Hutto; I thought it was Hutto himself. I recommend this to everyone.

  • Jim Calabresa

    When will My life as a turkey be rerun again?

  • Carrie Freeman

    I LOVE seeing a thoughtful and respectful portrait of birds (that we usually objectify and eat this time of year) and a positive relationship between human and nonhuman animals. To further promote respect for animals, I wrote this op-ed about the President’s annual pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey and what it says about our anxieties about killing fellow animals.

  • Liz Wong

    You are the best “Turkey Mom” in the world! The film’s story brought back warm memories of all my pets since childhood. Chicks, pigeon, quail, ducks, guinea pig, turtles, frogs, crawdads, lizard, 135 goldfish, and of course my pride of 5 cats. This last spring, I became “Bird Mom” to a nest of red-crested bird of some sort. The hen fashioned a nest along my leftover Christmas wreath, and was not too frantic of my climbs up the ladder every few days. I photographed the eggs until one day I heard a chirp! The macro shot from my camera captured an odd looking creature bobbing a bald head stuck with sparse tufts of feathers. Of course, the 5 chicks kept growing and changing until one day, they looked just like their mom. I was lucky enough to video their flight taking off from the Christmas wreath… I never saw or heard the family again. When spring comes around next season, I will keep my window open and listen for a return of the next generation. So, that is my “Bird Mom” story to share with all of Joe Hutto’s fans.

  • sharon Duke

    Living with Turkeys was so well done, I truly enjoyed it. I”m really curious on how you filmed it. I just want to know more.

  • Sam Van Eman

    Beautiful. Saw it with the kids a few days ago. My seven-year old walked in just now with a 20-panelled Crayon picture summary of the show. It’s obvious that it left an impression on her. Thank you.

  • Paula

    I loved this show! I had read the book years ago, and loved it. Will order the DVD. Many thanks, PBS.

  • Lance

    Was just turning in at midnight and about to turn off the TV when this came on. I stayed up to watch the whole show despite being tired. I couldn’t get over how vivid the images were. The story was also great and I just couldn’t turn the program off until it was finished.

    thank you very much!

  • Chris Krysher

    What a show. I have a special friend who has discovered raising guineas and Bannies along with a few turkeys. I really was at a loss to what to give her for Christmas this year. I’ve ordered the DVD and book. Hope it comes in in time.
    Again thank you for such a remarkable show.

  • Thomasina KNIGHT

    I was lucky to catch this show at midnight just as I was going to bed but I was glued to the set. Phenominal, amazing, ground breaking (for turkeys)….and I thought, what a great time to air it!! Turkey awareness for pre-Thanksgiving. My hats off to this well produced, well told, and photographed show….I would love to watch it again and will try and recommend this to all my friends. Absolutely spellbinding and brilliant. Thank you Joe for living with the Turkeys and thank you Nature for producing this excellent show. More More!

  • Elton Hartzler

    When will it re-run?

  • Robert

    Great story but it is untrue that turkeys bred commercially are SO different from wild turkeys as the author so emphatically points out in the film. To understand how much their similarities are greater than their differences, see

    I think the attach of his pet turkey at the end makes no sense. Something is missing. An omnivore bird like this one does NOT have much of a killer instinct. That is precisely why were able to domesticated them for food! The notion that he could do nothing more to defend or protect himself from this alleged “vicious attack” than to strike the bird as hard as he could is not just a failure to understand the bird’s nature but also a lack of preparedness to handle such a situation in a humane manner, knowing full well that man wields great power over the fate of so many species like this one.

  • natalie

    I watched part of this show with my 4 yr old daughter and I enjoyed the discussions the show brought up in our family and here’s what she says “I’m sorry that the turkey died. Thank you for taking care of the turkeys because you love the animals.”

  • Terrence Fahy

    amazing and fascinatingly brilliant and that’s just from a quick read which sounds vaguely familiar from being a pretty serious vegan for over 25+yrs. and a few glimpses of the program so i guess i’ve become an official fan of MLAAT…

  • Geno

    I need the score for that intro music

  • Ginger McClure

    Wow! I have seen “My Life as a Turkey” twice and loved every moment. My experience was like reading a beautifully written book, one I just couldn’t put down. The natural beauty of the area where it was filmed was frosting on the cake, I loved it !! Such a breath of fresh air, Thank you.

  • Cecilia Owen

    This is the most wonderful film, I love to see move of his work.

  • free tv shows

    If you have a cigarette lighter nearby your can of wasp killer, guess what? Flamethrower, baby, and that is way awesomer than just bug spray alone. (I don’t think pepper spray is flammable, so wasp spray wins again!)

  • swimming

    I found this as an informative and interesting post so i think, it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing ability has inspired me. Really the article is spreading its wings rapidly.

  • Sherley Prats

    Mike M., I like your post. I totally support the Gibson Rally.

  • Petrina Molek

    There are some attention-grabbing points in time in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity however I will take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  • Carlos

    What I find interesting is how intelligent, how purposeful life is at various levels & forms. When we return to nature in a non threatening present way, we learn who we truly are.

    Thank you Joe

  • Cory Mac

    Can I just say what a reduction to seek out someone who truly knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know easy methods to bring an issue to gentle and make it important. Extra individuals need to learn this and understand this facet of the story. I cant imagine youre not more standard because you undoubtedly have the gift.

  • Matilda

    I watched the film on SVT here in Sweden an I really loved it! So beautiful, sweet and sad.

  • Bette

    How could one not be in love with this film, how can I get a copy? Thanks

  • Poul Jensen

    Thank you PBS. An exceptionally intelligent production throughout, both in terms of content and cinematography, and a great effort to try to make people think a little deeper. My reasons for becoming a vegetarian are embedded in this.

  • Glen

    Caught it on BBC4 this morning by accident, I had a lump in my throat when Sweetpea and her eggs were killed. I was very impressed by the quality of the program, and rewatched it on BBC i-player. I have now downloaded his book “Illumination in the Flatwoods” onto my Kindle

  • David Beich

    How true of a story…. I only got to watch the last few minutes of it… but I can relate.
    I currently have two turkeys as pets. have had them since they were a few days old, a male and a female.
    Unknown to most people, turkeys are very smart, and a loyal complanion. looking out for each other as well as knowing how to stay out of trouble. when it’s getting dark, they know it’s time to go to their cage (sanctuary) if the door is left open, they will actually (put themselves to bed).. wish kids were as responsible some times lol
    walking across the yard and into their home… I just need to walk with them.. or follow them.. .and feed and water them… They are best friends to each other as well as very friendly to me and most visitors. Making good “watch turkeys” at night also! They are 8 yrs old currently and still doing good! happy and healthy! Even when it’s hot.. I live in Arizona, they have a swamp cooler to keep the temps down durring the day… the male when he get’s hot will stand in front of the cooler and look at me.. .as to say “Dad … when are you going to turn on my coool air! “…. He’s so sweet… and I’ll agree to the video.. turkeys really do have a personality and do interact with who they live with.
    Thanks again, Dave

  • Deanna Gates

    I watched this program so many times on that I finally bought the video. It is so captivating. The book “Illumination in the Flatwoods” gives many more details about Joe’s experience. He continued to have a relationship with Turkey Boy beyond the fighting incident, whereas in the re-enactment “Turkey Boy” didn’t come back. I recommend the book highly.

  • Maggie

    I’ve no words other than to say thank you for taking the time out in your lfe ……to enrich the lives of so many more with understanding these wonderful creatures. I am so thankfull for the experience to share in your profound joy of your new brothers and sisters.

  • ricardo

    Nothing (no other network) will ever come close to PBS. Always great shows. Will stick my face to tv on wednesday the 21st.Thank you PBS.

  • Anni

    I have an idea that these comments are screened and that anything or anyone that doesn’t agree that turkey’s are smart won’t get posted. I will always think that turkey’s are dumb.

  • Ken

    Can the “my life as a turkey” be purchased?
    Thank you, Ken

  • sharon

    Just watched!!! Loved it. We have wild turkeys in our yard everyday. I always looked at them at big ugly birds. Boy, my view has changed. Several years ago, our dog Jake and a wild turkey spent about an hour chasing each other back and forth across the yard. It all makes sense now. Great show.

  • Faye

    What dedication Joe Hutto showed. Thanks for sharing your special time with the rest of us.

  • annie

    l had the opportunity to raise 6 wild turkeys from 1 week of age,4 jakes and 2 hens, very similar experience. raised 2 hens thru 4 years, the toms went abut there own way around 8-12 months… all tried to assert some form of dominance. . but took me as the dominate one, except the hens, while sitting, an with young chicks… They are Smart, Lovely an l would do that again at any chance!!!

  • Marina Joslyn

    One of a kind nature documentary. Deeply moving, informative, and transformative.

  • Diane

    Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I cannot imagine how I might eat any turkey! Yes, I know, it will be a domesticated kind but this show was so dear and so real that I am now charmed by turkeys. I live in northern NM, very rural and a couple years ago there were a few wild turkeys that showed up. I was thrilled to watch them and find tracks. Then they disappeared. I was told some neighbors shot them. That’s the worst thing of living out here, the people. I think of Walt Whitman’s poem of his desire of turning to live with the animals…..

    Thank you for a wonderful program! I hope this isn’t Joe Hutto’s last sharing of his life.

  • Linda DeClark

    What can I say that others have not already said, except that if anyone watches this and still clings to the false notion that turkeys are dumb, then they, themselves must be dumb! I loved this program. It was compelling and very informative. I loved the sensitivity of Joe and the story made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

  • Dan

    Its ironic that we gather our families around a dead turkey for thanksgiving. A new age is coming lets celebrate life and give up eating death and learn to love the fellow creatures. I became a vegetarian and no longer eat birds. lets start with giving up eating cows, they are peaceful creatures.

  • Michael Ryan

    Wow! Thank you, Joe Huttto! And thank you, PBS!

  • Betty Todd

    I lived on a working ranch in Texas for 18 months and observed the wildlife — deer, turkeys, squirrels, all kinds of birds, sheep, cows, bulls, and more. Observing all God’s creatures was the most wonderful experience I have ever had – this program reminded me of that wonderful time. I LOVED this program and know that I want to move back to the country and be with the wildlife – humans can learn so much from animals if we just slow down and pay attention – we are all alike. And NO animal is dumb.

  • Katja

    Thanks for this wonderful film. The story was fascinating, and the footage was stunning. I would love to spend some time wandering these beautiful woods.

  • Brenda Jowers

    I loved this documentary. Brilliant and mezmerizing. Joe Hutto thank you for your love of wildlife and your dedication to it.

  • Carl Selinger

    Extraordinary, riveting, moving, incredibly filmed.

  • Dave K

    My wife and I just, luckily, happened to turn on PBS as this started, not knowing what was on. There just absolutely has to be more of this type of programming on television. Society is missing out on opportunities for all generations by filling hundreds of cable channels with garbage. Thank you PBS.

  • Dave

    I believe that Joe and his flock were living outside Lake Placid, Florida. Not North Central Florida or Alachua County as previously commented. I have read that the land is owned by Henscratch Farms. This is a remote part of Southwest Florida, which I guess you could call “central” due to its proximity to Lake Okeechobee. I have gone on some great walks in the hammocks around there. If you are ever in the area, you should get off the theme park rides and drive out to Highlands Hammock State Park.×88dc5edc04a57f5b:0×652420999f3b4a73&q=henscratch+lake+placid

  • Peggy Bryant

    Amazing show. God bless Joe Hutto! It brought tears to my eyes when I marveled at the beauty and wisdom of one of God’s creatures. I raised a group of mallards once when I lived near the Chesapeake Bay. and although I have always loved nature, that experience left me with an never ending love of nature. God’s creation takes my breath away whether in the animals or in the beauty of just looking at a tree. God has given us a planet of infinite beauty and abundance. Let’s not destroy it with our own selfish desires and greed.

  • Michele

    I watched My Life as a Turkey last night and was riveted! This was the best documentary I have ever seen! I thoroughly enjoyed Joe’s study. What a sacrifice Joe made! I can’t wait to watch it again on November 27th! Thank you, Joe!

  • bernig

    I’ve just learned how to find the nature info on my very old computer; I watched the turkey tale last night and could not believe my eyes. What an amazing story and what a dedicated animal lover Mr. Hutto is. Thanx for the show, hope to see it again.

  • Barbara

    I would love to share this with my grandchildren. Will there be re-runs? How about DVD or a book.
    My husband and I wereglued to the TV watching the show. There is something new to learn everyday. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • Lisa

    I’ve never seen anything like this. I was completely awestruck. Mr. Hutto has my deepest respect for his love of the animal world, how he articulates his experiences for the viewer, and ability to capture this experience in a way that is sensitive, respectful, and all-ages appropriate. We can all learn lessons from these wonderful creatures, to “live in the moment” as he puts it. Thank you, PBS and Mr. Hutto.

  • Mårten

    My life as a turkey is amazing.
    My view on things has changed.
    Beautiful pictures and deep insight into life of another spieces.
    Thank you turkeyboy sweetpeace and Joe.

  • Nicole

    I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this, but I just couldn’t pull myself away. I laughed, I cried. Such a beautiful story.

  • Nichole Dobbins

    I just watched this. It was beyond great!

  • Ann A. Powell

    Have never seen anything better! Thanks for airing such a good quality program. I was fascinated and touched by the sensitivity to and the love for nature and God’s creatures. (though I must close my eyes when the reptiles come into view!)) Joe Hutto has. I found myself wishing I, too, had that same capacity as Joe Hutto and my own daughter and also my son, both of whom I couldn’t help thinking throughout. They possess that same makeup to relate to and care for animals and to respect and love nature in its many aspects. Thank you again!

  • Nathan Borson

    A must-see. It was so beautiful (visually and spiritually), and I find myself thinking of it days and weeks after watching. As someone fascinated by interspecies communication, I was perhaps most impressed by how these wild birds opened a gateway to their environment for their adopted human “mother,” allowing him a profoundly deeper connection to the rest of nature than he was able to achieve directly, even after years of study and experience there.

  • Andrew Raymond

    I laughed, I cried . . . it was better than “Cats.”

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

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