"Wishbone" the turkey beats the odds

Posted at 9:29 AM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 10:09:06-05

Not all 47-pound turkeys get a second chance at life, especially at this time of year, but one big bird in Teton County beat the odds.

The brisk November wind doesn't bother Wishbone, a turkey living on Laurie Ward's family ranch near Power. "He was in the snow for at least five days, underneath about four feet of snow," said Laurie.

Each year, the family raises two turkey chicks, ultimately destined to become Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. This year, those dubious honors were going to go to Wishbone and Charlotte, but a bitter November blizzard threw a wrench in the plans.

"There was a couple days where we couldn't even get out to the pen,” said Laurie. “So we had fed them enough to survive for those couple of days but when we came out to find them and make sure they were ok and to feed them again, all we found was Charlotte."

With Wishbone nowhere to be found, the fear was someone else may be feasting on the big bird. "We really thought maybe the coyotes got him because we looked everywhere, couldn't find him," said Laurie.

Laurie's husband dug a trench in the turkey's snow covered pen to see if he could locate Wishbone, thinking he may be frozen.

Days later, it was Laurie's grandson, Chase, who was feeding the other animals and made the welcome discovery.

"I heard another distant sound and I was like, ‘What is that sound?’” said Chase. “So I walked in the pen, I looked around in the snow and I almost thought he wasn't there and then I checked in a small corner and there he was. I found a little bank of snow, right in a little hole and boom his head popped out right out of the hole."

Chase could barely contain his excitement. "I ran into the house and I said ‘Grandma, the turkey's still alive, you'll never believe this!’” said Chase. “It was a miracle."

Laurie says maybe it was the massive amount of feathers that helped Wishbone survive. After an ordeal like that, she didn't have the heart to make a meal out of him.

"After all that trauma Chase said, we can't eat him now," said Laurie.

"I said I love that guy when I found him," said Chase.

Laurie says Wishbone's frosty adventure has earned him a lifetime exemption from the holiday supper table...but the family still has their eye on Charlotte for Christmas dinner.