No Turkeys Dropped from Airplanes in Arkansas This Year

For 66 years in Yellville, Arkansas, a Turkey Trot Festival has been held on the first weekend in October.  It’s not difficult to understand considering Arkansas is third among U.S. states in turkey production behind Minnesota and North Carolina.  Turkey Trot festivities include a turkey calling contest, turkey dinner, a Miss Drumsticks Beauty Contest — where contestants are judged without seeing their faces or upper bodies — and a Turkey Drop.

The Turkey Drop consists of live wild turkeys being thrown out of a low flying airplane.  With an altitude of around 1,000 feet and a speed of 70 mph, not all turkeys survive the drop.  The ones who make it to the ground in one piece are then chased by children.

If caught, the turkey may become a pet – or dinner, depending on the whim of the child and presumably his or her parents.  It was justified by assuming the turkeys who managed to scurry out of town would be increasing the wild turkey population for the next year.

Actually, the Turkey Drop started out as a Turkey Toss. The toss occurred from the County Courthouse roof.  Sometime in the 1960s, the toss became the drop.  In the 1970s and 1980s, animal activists protested the practice as inhumane and by 1990 no one officially supported the Turkey Drop.

The problem, though, was that Yellville natives did not agree.  Private citizens continued the Turkey Drop on their own.  It was considered a tradition that deserved to be carried on.

The fact remains that while wild turkeys can fly, they do it close to the ground and usually for no more than a quarter mile. Apparently the townsfolk believe turkeys can glide if they spread their wings.  The reality, however, is that not all turkeys do that by instinct when thrown out of an airplane.  This is evidenced by a video of last year’s event.

This year, for the 66th Annual Turkey Trot Festival, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) offered up to a $5,000 reward “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone directly involved in this activity.”

Townspeople aren’t interested in the reward money; most want the tradition to continue as evidenced by a quote by the Yellville Chamber of Commerce President, Travis Doshier “We’d kind of like to see it happen, it’s a tradition, we’d like to see it continue.”

Dan Melton, a 54 time attendee at the Turkey Trot Festival said — referring to the $5,000 reward — “That ‘aint enough money to get him turned in. I don’t think he will get turned in for $5 million!”

The FAA (Federal Flight Administration) also got involved this year.  Without condoning or condemning the Turkey Drop, the FAA does not allow anything to be dropped out of a moving plane.  “If pilots are caught throwing turkeys, they can face fines or lose their license” stated KSPR News.  “Potential pilots who have participated in the drop in the past took the threat seriously and didn’t fly over the festival.”

So, the good news is no turkeys were dropped from airplanes at the Yellville, Arkansas Turkey Trot Festival this year.  I guess next year will need some supervision as well…

Related Stories:

U.S. Electric Company Agrees to Help Protect the Wild Turkey

Thanksgiving: The Truth Regarding Free Range Turkeys

The True Meaning of Free Range

Photo of wild turkey by Bob Gutowski via Flickr


Rene White
Rene White20 days ago

Sick Tradition!! And it just stopped this year!! Unbelievable how someone could be that cruel to an animal and allow their children to participate!! Bunch of sickos!! They probably abuse their pets too.

gary c.
Gary C.4 years ago

Morons ...

Patrish Dehler
Patricia Dehler4 years ago

Traditions mean nothing of human or animals are injured - It's just another excuse to behave like a barbaric!

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence4 years ago

Arkansas idiots!

Brigitta M.

At last! I would have been ashamed to live in that place or to know any of the participants! I'm embarrassed for them displaying their ignorance and callousness with a yearly tradition no less!

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.4 years ago

what idiots ( the people, not the birds)

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.4 years ago

what idiots

Steve S.
Steve S.4 years ago

Shows you how 'entrenched' these attitudes are and how they can convince themselves with an untruth. The article states that the original 'tradition' was a Turkey Toss, off the Courthouse roof which, after animal activists became involved, was changed to a Turkey Drop. So the argument about Tradition is a load of old codswallop ( a noun meaning nonsense ). It is obvious it's the suffering of the animal that gets their juices flowing.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

There's still cultures existing that engage in cannibalism. It's their culture. Why not let them keep doing that? Or say as Travis Doshier: "We’d kind of like to see it happen, it’s a tradition, we’d like to see it continue.”
What's the difference? Culture as culture. I rest my case.

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.5 years ago

Good grief. How a$$-backwards can you get?