Naturalist Jim Hutto's remarkable experience of being imprinted on by a group of wild turkey hatchlings, and raising them to adulthood and beyond, in the remote wilderness of northern Florida.

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(based on the book "Ilumination in the Flatwoods" by)
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Episode credited cast:
Joe Hutto ...
Himself / Narrator
Jeff Palmer ...
Joe Hutto
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Naturalist Jim Hutto's remarkable experience of being imprinted on by a group of wild turkey hatchlings, and raising them to adulthood and beyond, in the remote wilderness of northern Florida.

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TV-G

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16 November 2011 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Featured in Terra Mater: Mein Leben als Truthahn (2012) See more »

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Performed by Jill Barber
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One man's remarkable experience of raising a group of wild turkey hatchlings to adulthood.
30 November 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Oh my God, this is the best movie I've ever accidentally watched! I had no idea it even existed until the Masterpiece video I wanted to watch on the PBS website wasn't working, so I clicked through the other offerings and this came up on the Nature section.

Naturalist Jim Hutto does on-camera narration to his experiment of a lifetime: While living in the very remote wilds of Florida, he was unexpectedly given a pan full of wild turkey eggs, and he incubated them, planning to let them imprint on him when they hatched so that he could study them closely.

Little did he know that this would occupy his entire waking existence for the next two years! As the turkeys' de facto mother, Hutto becomes a literal Dr. Dolittle, learning and using all of the turkeys' myriad and subtle vocalizations, living with them from dawn to past their sleeptime every single day, and learning to live and see life through their eyes and hearts. Becoming a de facto wild turkey not only opens him up to their own fascinating existence, but it also opens a window into the other creatures of the forest: Escorted by the turkeys, he is welcomed by the rest of the forest-dwellers as one of them -- a condition that could never exist before the turkey experiment and never did after the two years were over and his brood was no longer with him.

Like other animal-human bonding documentaries and films ('The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill' or 'Born Free' or 'Ring of Bright Water' or 'Gorillas in the Mist' come to mind), this film is charming, funny, moving, thought-provoking, and enormously enlightening. I think the qualitative difference here is manifold, however: Firstly, the subjects are wild turkeys, a species that not much was known about beforehand and that was and is presumed unintelligent by the average person; secondly, these animals are completely wild, not domesticated or coddled in any way; thirdly, Hutto, as their imprinted mother, was fully accepted by the animals as a turkey rather than a human, and he lived that way, in the wild, as a turkey. Hutto revels in the turkeys' in-the-moment existence and joie-de-vivre, finding it much more satisfying than the insane worries and regrets of human existence.

I could go on, but let me simply conclude by saying this is definitely a movie any animal lover would enjoy! Beautifully filmed, as well.


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