Our family has never been big on after-turkey day flag football. Instead, we’ve been known to drag out a jigsaw puzzle, mix up a spirited holiday eggnog, or round up a posse for the sorta-annual Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot. No firearms required. No fowl play.
This Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot is a riff on an old fashioned scavenger hunt. Players work together in teams to “shoot” photos of as many “turkeys” as possible and receive points depending on the degree of difficulty in making the shot. Photos snapped with cameras or smartphones provide evidence of completing the shot.
A lot has changed in personal photography since I first wrote about our family Turkey Shoot. Back then, we used Polaroid cameras to capture the bird. Nowadays, we’re chasing fowl with iPhones and Instax Mini Cameras, and this refreshed version of my article features the latest mobile photo options.
But, don’t just wing it. Read on to find out how you can get your turkeys in a row for your own Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot.
Each Team Needs:
- A copy of the Regulation Handbook listing the Rules (VERY important for family harmony) and the destinations with points.
- A smartphone or instant camera. It’s more fun if the resulting photos are printed and shared for the final judging. We have used old Polaroid cameras, but film is getting hard to find. Instead, consider buying or borrowing an inexpensive Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera for each team.
Another option is to pair team smartphones with a home printer, or the battery-operated Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 Smart Phone Printer. The Instax cameras are fun and easy to use, but I like my Instax Printer because I can preview and edit photos on my smartphone before printing, and save film by deleting the duds.
- A driver and a car, unless you have enough “destinations” in your immediate neighborhood for teams to walk from place to place.
Turkey Shoot Rules & Regulations
Rule #1: Each team shall consist of a minimum of 3 turkeys (contestants), one automobile, and one camera.
The first time we tried this family activity, my sister and family lived in Silverado Canyon, an isolated canyon in the Orange County hills of Southern California. The crowd that year included kids of all ages, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, and bewildered guests. My sister worked out the “Destinations” using local landmarks and the teams were pretty evenly filled with at least one “local” in each group.
Rule #2: The objective of the competition is to navigate your team between suggested destinations and return with photographic proof of your adventures.
In the early years of the competition, we used Polaroid cameras to “shoot” the turkeys, but a smartphone camera or the inexpensive Fujifilm Instax Instant camera are our go-to choices nowadays. Everyone likes to see their picture actually printed, so it might be worth borrowing a few instant-print cameras if possible.
Rule #3: Depending upon the degree of difficulty, each potential destination has been awarded a point value.
More points awarded for a photo of a live turkey than a photo of a bale of hay.
Rule #4: Teams which demonstrate ingenuity by devising a means to have a stranger operate their camera, (so that all team members appear in the photo) will be awarded 10 bonus points per destination.
And, THIS, is where family harmony can begin to break down. The rules state that “a stranger” must operate the camera — because Polaroid camera’s didn’t work with a remote shutter release, duh — but what if you “know” the “stranger.” Does the team still earn the points?
Rule #5: No team is allowed to leave the canyon.
It’s a good idea to establish geographic boundaries or you may lose your contestants.
Rule #6: Desitnations may be visited in any sequence.
Another good rule that helps to spread out the teams in your area. Watch out for neighbors who may help or hinder teams that follow the first one. Folks seem to get into the spirit of the event. It might be good to heat up more cider for the after-party.
Rule #7: Return to the host’s home at the designated time.
Our teams dragged home in a most untimely fashion. Penalize tardiness with a point loss to get the turkeys home before dark.
Rule #8: The team with the highest total point score will be honored at the Gala Awards Ceremoney and be exempt from dishwashing duties.
Prizes are always welcome! Recycle old trophies, or make your own with chocolate turkeys!
Turkey Shoot Destinations
(Customize for your neighborhood. Don’t make ’em too easy.)
Turkey Class – 35 points each
With a live turkey
With something that embodies the spirit of Thanksiving
In front of a “Kids at Play” sign
In front of an Eiffel tower (!)
Sitting on a hammock
Stuffing Class – 30 points each
On top of a castle
In front of a roaring fire
In front of a “Road Ends” sign
With two dogs owned by a stranger
On a boat
Cranberry Class – 25 points each
With a horse
Standing next to a fire truck
On a walking bridge
In front of a “Happy Thanksgiving” sign
Sitting on a bale of hay
You won’t want to miss a photo of all the teams, maybe holding up their winning photos.
Turkey Shoot Variations
My sister reminded me that the original version of this game included city destinations such as: Have your photo taken with a Starbucks Barista (you could add a Pumpkin Latte!).
The Newspaper in Education website includes a Thanksgiving Newspaper Scavenger Hunt that’s a good option if the weather isn’t cooperating with an outdoor driving shoot.
This article is too fun not to keep updated and reprint annually. I hope our adventures inspire you to devise your own family Turkey Shoot.
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