Merwin: Flies on the Hoof

John Merwin

Outside my home-office window are some old apple trees that entertain by attracting all sorts of critters through the year. This flock of wild turkeys was the latest, stopping by yesterday morning to chow down on old apples.

Some people might look at these birds and see drumsticks. I see trout flies. The secondary wing quills on wild turkeys are a beautiful mottled brown and perfect for the wings on muddler minnows, hoppers, various caddis imitations, and more.

Trouble is, when turkey farmers switched years ago to raising domestic white turkeys, mottled turkey wing quills as a fly- tying material became very hard to find. Peacock wing quills are somewhat similar and were a popular substitute for a while, but I haven't heard much about those in some years.

So I'm still tying with quills from a wild gobbler I shot some years ago. But I'm running low and one of these days I'll have to shoot another. Probably not out my window, though. That would be lower than even I could go....