Excelsior Springs youth harvests all-white wild turkey

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Excelsior Springs, Mo. – Anna White, 14, harvested a rare wild turkey on April 8 that bears something in common with her name. White, of Excelsior Springs, shot a 20-pound gobbler with a black beard, but the tom’s feathers and spurs were all snow white.

“It’s an once-in-a-lifetime trophy,” said her father, Paul White. “I told her, ‘you just cost me a taxidermy bill.’ “

Anna and her sister, Aleena White, were hunting from a blind on a private farm near Polo in Caldwell County. Their father served as guide during the youth spring turkey hunting season, which was April 8-9. A barred owl hooted as sunrise began. Toms began gobbling from roosts all around the hunters. When the birds began flying down, her father made hen purrs with his turkey call. The white gobbler stepped out in front of them, and with one shot, Anna had her trophy.

The gobbler was likely a white phase turkey and not a true albino, said Jason Isabelle, MDC resource scientist. The bird would need to have pink eyes to be a true albino. Paul White said they did not check the eyes closely, and photos taken by the family are inconclusive.

Hunters usually report one or two white phase birds annually to Isabelle, he said. More may be harvested but not reported. But they are rare. Some birds may have gray phase coloration or both white and black markings. Turkeys with abnormal coloration, especially light colors like white that provide no camouflage, are far more easily spotted, killed and eaten by predators. That makes harvesting an adult white gobbler even more unusual.

This was the third gobbler that Anna has harvested over the years while hunting with her father. The family and the landowner had not seen the white gobbler until the morning of the hunt.

“I’ve seen a few white hens, but that was years ago,” Paul White said. “But I’d never seen a white gobbler. I started calling and in a few minutes he stepped out in front. She made a good shot.”

Missouri’s regular spring turkey season opened April 17 and closes May 7. For information on turkey hunting, visit http://mdc.mo.gov.