Rare white turkey makes opening day appearance
The 2015 spring turkey season dawned windy and wet Monday morning in southeast Michigan, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. It didn’t affect the turkeys, either, which are in ample supply in Lapeer County where I’m hunting this spring.
The toms were boisterous early, announcing their intention to the local flock of hens while they were still on the roost. By 6:15 a.m. we had a half dozen turkeys in front of us in last year’s bean field including a couple dandy gobblers. One of the longbeards pranced right up to our jake decoy. Unfortunately Jenelle’s shot at opening-day success missed its mark.
“As I was aiming my shotgun getting ready to take a shot I thought, “you know, he’ll be a NICE one next year,’ so I purposely shot over his head. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it,” she told me with a mischievous grin.
The gobbler ran about 50 yards, stopped and turned around looking back in our direction. Meanwhile, the other tom and the hens held their ground, trying, I suppose, to figure out what all the commotion was.
About an hour later, as we watched the birds waddle out of the field, the highlight of the morning occurred. A rare, beautiful, white hen flew right into our decoys.
She only stayed around for moment before following the other gobbler out of the field. But, thanks to modern technology, Jenelle was able to get a 23 second video of the bird so we can relive the moment for years to come.
A white turkey is one of two types of bird: either a domestic, farm raised turkey that escaped or was released; or turkey with a recessive gene that causes the white coloration, which is commonly called a, ”smokey-gray.”
According to the DNR website, “Smokey-gray wild turkeys are rare but not uncommon in Michigan. This color variation in wild turkeys is a recessive trait, more common in females than in males, present in Michigan due to the wild turkey restoration program using birds that were acquired from Iowa in the 1980s. Some of the birds from Iowa carried this trait. Through our restoration activities, the smokey-gray trait was passed through the southern Michigan population of wild turkeys. This smokey-gray color aberration in wild turkeys is not an indicator of birds with domestic turkey genetics. It is a trait similar to melinism or albinism and is found in wild turkeys….”
I’m no expert in biology so I can’t say which type of “white” turkey this was, but it sure was a thrill to have that bird stop by for a visit on opening morning of the 2015 spring turkey hunting season.
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