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Tennessee Hunter Shoots Pure White ‘Turkey of a Lifetime’

By Miguel Moreno

Tennessee hunter Cameron Bond found and killed a snow white turkey in Rutherford County. A picture of the hunter holding the white-feathered trophy was uploaded to Twitter by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency on April 13.

The agency stated that the bird had leucism: a rare condition that causes the animal to lose its pigmentation—not to be confused with albinism.

It is common to see white domesticated turkeys, but not wild ones, according to USA Today.

In addition to the unusual color, Bond’s turkey weighed 20 pounds and carried a nine inch beard.

Mississippi’s ‘Exceptionally Rare’ Turkey

Nearly one month ago, Hunter Waltman of Kiln, Mississippi, also harvested a wild white turkey, also believed to have leucism. Waltman’s turkey weighed two to three pounds less that Bond’s, and its beard was outmatched by the white bird of Tennessee.

Waltman made the kill on March 16, one day after turkey season opened. The hunter had heard of the black bearded turkey with white spurs, nails, and feathers in the past.

“I’ve been having him on camera all year since back in October,” said Waltman, according to the report. “My neighbor told me about him.”

Waltman told USA Today that his neighbor had seen the nearly-20-pound bird “hanging around for three years.”

A fellow Mississippi hunter joined Waltman on the hunt for the turkey, finding the white ball where he was roosting. The hunters waited for the bird to finish.

“We watched him run around with the hens for about two hours and he finally bred them,” he told USA Today. “When he got through with the hens he made a B-line straight to us.”

Waltman was nervous as he was using an unfamiliar gun from his friend to shoot the bird. At about 60 yards away, he was second-guessing his shot, but took the shot anyways. The turkey fell.

“Man, it was awesome,” said the hunter. “I was shaking I was so nervous. It was one of the hardest turkeys I’ve ever killed.”

Genetic Mutations With Differences

Strangely, white featured birds are not always albino. There are distinct differences between albinism and leucism. Listed below are their features, according to Avian Report.

Albinism

  • No Melanin
  • Pure White
  • Pink, reddish eyes
  • Body parts are pale, no color

Leucism

  • Pigment loss only in feathers
  • Varying degrees of whitened feathers
  • Bare parts of body are white, including eyes and bill

Besides their unusual appearance, leucistic birds often fall victim to their frosty plumage.

“Most birds rely on their plumage to blend in the habitat they use,” explains Avian Report. “Predators, particularly hawks and falcons are very quick to identify a bird that looks different and will attempt to prey upon it more often than normal.”

Another defect of discolored plumage is its loose structure. According to Avian Report, melanin is an essential part of the feather’s structure, meaning that a less resilient feather will be formed with less melanin.