The other day Hunter Waltman of Kiln, Mississippi did what most hunters in Mississippi do this time of year. He and a friend got up early, went to the woods 30 minutes before sunrise, located a turkey gobbling on the roost and moved in and set up.
Typical early morning turkey hunt. The gobbler flew down, went silent and never responded to the hunters’ calls. Hens.
They sat and waited for 2 hours, and just as they were fixing to leave, they saw a big ball of white fanned out with 3 hens about 80 yards away. A short time later, the hens left the gobbler to nest for the morning, and the white bird made a beeline for the hunters.
The bizarre white bird strutted within 60 yards, and Hunter pulled the trigger. “I was shaking I was so nervous,” he told the Clarion-Ledger. It was one of the hardest turkeys I’ve ever killed.”
Hunter’s white gobbler weighed 17 pounds and had a 9¼-inch beard (black) and 1-inch spurs (whitish).
When the first picture of the unusual turkey popped up on Facebook, Hunter’s friends and peers were happy for him and his once in a lifetime kill.
But then, a “celebrity” saw it and crashed the party, and the worst in social media came out.
ESPN’s Keith Olbermann of all people saw Hunter’s bird and went ballistic, tweeting to his 1 million followers:
It be rare and beautiful so me should kill it. This pea-brained scumbag identifies himself as Hunter Waltman and we should do our best to make sure the rest of his life is a living hell.
I can see a rabid anti-hunter like Olbermann, who ceased being funny or clever decades ago, posting a snide Twitter rant about somebody posing with a dead lion or zebra in Africa.
But bullying a 22-year-old over a white turkey in Mississippi?
Stupid and shameful.
“To tell you the truth, it seemed like a threat to me,” (Hunter) told the Clarion Ledger, who has been all over this story from Day 1.
Hunter said he’d never heard of Olbermann before his tweet. “Make (my) life ‘a living hell?’ That seems like a threat to me. I’d be glad to see him fired. He went overboard.”
There are a few (I emphasize a few) good things about social media. Soon hunters started fighting back, posting that Olbermann’s tweet was not only ridiculous, but it also blatantly violated Twitter’s policy of hatred and threats.
It took a couple of days, but finally the washed-up TV anchor and failed MSNBC commentator turned bully caved. The snide and stupid Tweet was removed and Olbermann apologized in this Tweet last night:
I am an opponent of trophy hunting and remain so, but nobody should feel threatened. This was anything but my intent, so I unreservedly apologize to Mr. Waltman for this tweet.
ABOUT THE WHITE TURKEY: Let’s get back to what’s really interesting about this story.
Was Hunter’s white turkey wild or a cross with a domestic bird?
A taxidermist examined it and deemed it 100 percent wild. A wildlife biologist studied the photos and agreed, pointing out that “the naked head and neck do not appear to be as ornate as one would expect in a domestic gobbler.” A domestic bird would be fatter and heavier with shorter legs.
The biologist believes the turkey, which had dark eyes like any wild turkey, is partially albino.
The Clarion-Ledger contacted Adam Butler, Mississippi’s Wild Turkey Program coordinator, who said he’d never heard of or seen a white wild turkey in the state.
“I would say it’s exceptionally rare,” Butler said. “I would assume that occurs in one out of several hundred thousand (turkeys).”
In the end, how does Hunter Waltman feel about his hunt for the white turkey, and the subsequent threats from online haters?
“Me, personally, I’m happy,” he said. “I’m real excited and they ain’t gonna take that away from me.
“I just let ‘em talk and just laugh at ‘em.”
Well said Hunter, and congrats man.