A recent video from Minnesota shows how fierce a wild turkey hen can be when an intruder gets too close to her poults. In this case, the intruder happens to be a drone, and the flying camera doesn’t stand a chance against the threatened hen.
At the beginning of the video, which was shared on social media over the weekend, the drone approaches the hen as it walks along a field edge in the tall grass. With its wings outstretched and its body feathers puffed up, the hen appears to be guarding a flock of poults as it walks away from the strange, flying object.
As soon as the intruder buzzes too close, the hen flies up and attacks the drone, taking it down in a split second. The drone is then left sitting in the grass while the hen kicks it again for good measure.
“It happened so fast,” says Ashley Senarighi, who was operating the drone at the time. “I just sat there and was like did that really just happen?”
A self-proclaimed hunting nerd, Senarighi tells Outdoor Life that she recorded the video on June 24 while she and her husband were at their hunting property near Remer. She’d bought the drone earlier that morning for an upcoming trip they had planned, and she decided to send it up for a test flight around the property.
“I had never flown a drone before in my life, and I bet I didn’t have 45 minutes of flight time on it before the turkey took it down,” she says. “I’d decided I’d fly around some trees to the outside of the field, and then I saw something dark and realized it was a turkey. So, I zoomed in and started to get a little closer … and I did not anticipate that reaction at all.”
After the crash, Senarighi worried about the turkey’s wellbeing and the fate of her brand-new drone. And when she walked up to the downed drone, she finally realized what had triggered the hen to attack.
“I went running across the field in my flip flops, and when I was maybe 15 feet from the drone I jumped her flock of babies,” Senarighi says. “There were, I’d guess, eight or 10 poults. Once I saw that, I understood.”
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The hen and poults survived the ordeal—Senarighi says she spotted the same family of turkeys feeding in the field the next day. As for the drone, she says, “it took the hit like a champ,” and that she’ll be flying it again soon after a quick fix. Only the next time Senarighi spots a wild turkey, she won’t be flying quite so close.
“For me, the biggest lesson was that the drone has a zoom feature. I could have just zoomed in on [the hen] without actually intruding on her space,” she says. “And from now on, I will be doing that.”