Image courtesy of Adam Huckaby
A full-body mount of a white phase wild turkey.

That first turkey is special for any hunter, but 9-year-old Easton Colby’s story was one very few hunters could ever fathom: He began his turkey hunting career a few weeks ago with an albino gobbler.

A resident of Collins, Missouri, Easton had been hunting the same property with his grandfather, Curtis, since he was only 4 years old. Even at his young age, years in the field already had his mine made up that he wanted his first turkey to be “the white tom,” a rare albino turkey that was known to frequent the area.

“He was very patient,” his grandfather, Curtis, told KY3 in an interview. “We could have worked harder on other birds and possibly gotten him closer to us. And he was pretty adamant that he wanted to wait for the white tom.”

Any color morphs, which are caused by a genetic mutation, are rare among wildlife. What biologists call “smoke-morph” turkeys, marked by largely white plumage with dark black and brown accents, are seen with some frequency–as many as one in 100, according to the National Audubon Society. The same study, however, indicates truly albino turkeys like Easton’s bird are roughly one in 100,000.

As such, the mysterious white tom Easton had his young eye on was undoubtedly a shot he’d would have to make the most of, as the vast majority of hunters will go a lifetime without ever once laying eyes on such a bird.

After about three and half hours of waiting in a small ground blind, the duo suddenly spotted a white dot peaking out from a group of turkeys, signaling the arrival of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Easton had committed himself to with such determination.

“Turkey had a big ol’ Tom with it and a group with it,” he said in the interview. “And it scared the albino and the other turkey off, and the other turkey turned around and saw our decoy, and I shot it.”

Following the shot, the two walked up on the 22.1-pound gobbler with an 1 1/4-inch spurs–a solid gobbler even before you factor in the albino rarity. They immediately transported the bird to a taxidermist where they plan to create a full-body mount in strut to go in Easton’s room. (Don’t worry, there are multiple ways to clean a turkey properly to preserve the meat before following through with a full-body mount.)

Easton recognizes how special this kind of encounter is to experience and even told reporters he knows how unlikely it is that he’ll ever cross paths with an albino turkey again. But never say never–the 9 year old has a long hunting career ahead of him to try for two.


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