Days Gone By: Snapping misplaced turtle’s trip short | news

The phone rang and it was my wife Sue. She had only left for Danville five minutes earlier so I thought she had probably forgot something. “There is a giant turtle headed for Oakwood on 150,” she announced and added, “If you don’t get him he is going to get hit.” My hearing is not the best anymore but she had the volume turned up.

“What’s he doing on the road?” I asked. “He is crawling in the gravel beside the eastbound lane, and he is huge.” “Has he been hit?” I asked. Sue replied, “I don’t think so, but if you don’t get him he will be. He is about a hundred feet east of our road on the verge, you will see him. He’s big.”

Well, at least the turtle had picked a nice day to travel. It had rained and been cloudy all week, but Saturday dawned with bright sunshine and warm temperatures. It finally felt like May. The turtle probably figured it was a good day to visit relatives or friends at the Pollywogs or Kickapoo.

I began the rescue mission by following the instructions to the turtle’s last known destination. I crept along on US 150 as traffic zoomed by. There was no giant turtle, or turtle of any size, to be seen a hundred feet east of our road. I continued for a mile into the budding metropolis of Oakwood. No giant turtle.

I pulled into Casey’s and thought about all those delicious pastries inside, but then I had a second thought, maybe I should take one more look. I drove back west on 150 and I soon saw a lump on the highway ahead. When I got closer I could see the lump was a very large turtle.

It had switched lanes, but was still heading east. The turtle was now in the middle of the westbound lane. Perhaps it thought facing traffic was better than having it approach from the rear. There was traffic both ways so picking up the traveler was not going to be easy.

I stopped a few feet before I got to him and turned on the flashers. When I went around the front of the truck, I discovered he had proceeded to travel under the vehicle. If I attempted to crawl under to get him, someone would have to rescue both of us. So I waited for him to make a move as he had ceased crawling.

A few cars whized around before a white SUV stopped behind me. A young woman got out and asked if I needed help. I said no but the turtle under my truck does. I explained how I was trying to keep him (or her, I didn’t really know) from being hit on the highway. “I’ll get him,” she said, and got down on her hands and knees and looked under the truck. Right away, I realized I had an animal lover assisting me, what were the chances of that happening? She reminded me of naturalist Susan Biggs Warner.

“That is a monster turtle,” she said as she stood up, evidently having second thoughts about trying to apprehend an aggressive snapping turtle at close quarters. She watched to make sure Snapper, the name I gave the adventurer, didn’t get under a wheel and I pulled the truck ahead. Once out in the open, he was ready to do battle. I dropped the tailgate on the pickup and she said, “I’ll put him in.” I kept the turtles attention as she grasped its tail and loaded it in the truck. It probably weighed 20 pounds. I thanked my helper and then delivered the wayward turtle to a little stream well removed from the highway.

Sue informed me later she had said the turtle was in the westbound lane, so he, or she, didn’t change lanes. I still think she might have said east lane. In any event it all worked out, thanks to the help of a good Samaritan. Perhaps the only disappointed party is Snapper. He, or she, didn’t get to finish that trek east to the Pollywogs, Kickapoo or wherever the final destination was.

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