The Real World Slam?

Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

The Real World Slam?

Posted 2014-06-17T07:27:00Z

Protected, domesticated, hunted and feared: the turkey-like cassowary . . .

Tag all five Meleagris gallopavo subspecies, plus an ocellated turkey (the other turkey species), and you've hunted hard enough to take a World Slam.

Meet the cassowary. It's not a wild turkey, but walks like one; even bears similar physical characteristics, though other aspects are decidedly not. Still, some have described the cassowary as a giant, prehistoric turkey.

Tough? It's been ranked as the world's most dangerous bird.

Let's back up a bit. My buddy D. and I hunted Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula this past March, where he completed his World Slam by tagging an Ocellated turkey. It's the hardcore turkey hunter's pinnacle of accomplishment, as much in terms of experienced effort, persistence and willingness to travel great distances to complete it. (Congrats again, man.)

This month, he joked self-deprecatingly with an email and this National Geographic video link. The message box read: The real World Slam? He was of course humorously referring to the cassowary, which doesn't make the list, as again, it's not a turkey. Still, what if he wondered?

According to sources, the flightless cassowary (three species total) are primarily fruit eaters, but diet also includes anything from bugs to frogs. Females lay the eggs, but males raise the chicks. New Guinea tropical forest habitat and northeastern Australia holds them. Apart from sheer size - females weigh up to 130 pounds and can stand over six feet tall, while males go a mere 100 and are slightly shorter - it's the cassowary attacks that get our attention.

Big and tough, their three-toed turkey-like feet, though fatter, are also equipped with dangerously sharp claws and are used as fighting, kicking weapons. Attacks on humans aren't uncommon. Their lifespan approaches half a century and as habitat declines, cassowary populations are endangered, threatened by development, protected in some locations, hunted in others and sometimes even domesticated.

Nope, it's not a turkey, but what a game-changer the cassowary might be if hunted. Dangerous game, anybody?

Want more? Even video games allow you to target the cassowary.

Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger.