Mississippi Hunter Shoots White Turkey, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann Goes On Twitter Rant


ms white turkey

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.

Weird Deer: Longest “Unicorn” Tine Ever!

unicorn deerThe typical “unicorn” tine–third beam that sprouts out a buck’s forehead—is 1 to 4 inches long. The middle tine in this picture appears to be 13 inches or longer, likely making it longest unicorn tine ever on a whitetail.

Biologists note that a unicorn tine is caused by trauma to the frontal bone on a buck’s forehead. This entire region of the skull is capable of growing antler, and if an area of the frontal bone is injured (such as a tine puncture from another buck) the trauma may cause a third antler to grow from the injury.   

How rare is a unicorn buck? Short answer, very.

Noted whitetail scientist Mickey Hellickson says that during his days of researching wild whitetails on the King Ranch in Texas, he and his team captured more than 4,000 different bucks, and not one was a unicorn!

Can You Salvage Roadkill Deer In Your State?

va buck hit may - CopyFrom Popular Science: Jessica Mundall came across a dead buck while driving. The animal had just been hit and killed by a semi-truck, and was still “super fresh.” She and her husband, both hunters, processed the deer on the side of the road….

“After that, we were hooked,” says Mundall, 26, who works for the state’s fish and game department in Boise, Idaho. “We ended up getting our freezer filled off of roadkill.”

Idaho is one of 20-some states that allow the free salvage of roadkill animals (you simply need to report your take to the state and answer a few questions within 24 hours). Other states that allow it include Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, West Virginia, Montana, Tennessee and Alaska.

There are some obvious concerns: Is a car-struck deer salvageable or too damaged…? Is the meat still fresh or spoiled…? In a CWD area, is the meat safe to eat…?

But according to State Farm Insurance, an estimated 1.33 million deer will be struck by vehicles this year. A lot of those animals will be salvageable, so that’s a lot of fresh red meat for our freezers, or for a shelter.

California is the latest state to get in on salvage. A recently introduced bill states “the intent of this legislation (is) to make available to Californians tens of thousands of pounds of a healthy, wild, big game food source that currently is wantonly wasted each year following wildlife-vehicle collisions.”

Why don’t all states allow a person to recover, take home and eat a dead deer if you’re willing to take a picture of it and get a salvage permit?

This seems to be a win-win. Would you salvage a roadkill, or maybe you already have?

Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine Files For Bankruptcy

ddhI am, or was, a print writer at heart, having majored in English in college many years ago, and then having written thousands of articles for magazines along with 6 books over the past 30 years.

This is a sad day for me, as yet another hunting magazine goes down.

F+W Media, publisher of Deer & Deer Hunting and 50-some other magazines, is liquidating. The New York-based publishing house, which has been in business for 100 years, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers on March 10.

According to the filing, the company has seen magazine subscriptions drop from 33.4 million in 2015 to 21.5 million in 2018. Advertising revenues decreased from $20.7 million in 2015 to $13.7 million.

The company’s CEO summed it up: “Over the past decade, the market for subscription print periodicals of all kinds, including those published by the company, has been in decline as an increasing amount of content has become available electronically at little or no cost to readers.”

Yes, and all of us in the outdoor media, from small bloggers like me to the largest publishing houses still in business, are still, after many uncertain years, trying to figure it out. There is so much free content out there, and so much more written and video content coming online every minute of every day.

How to compete? How to stay relevant? How to scratch by and make a living? A profit?

F+W Media hopes to sell off its magazine and book divisions, or else Deer and Deer Hunting and the company’s other print/digital titles will cease to exist.

Investing in print media is risky (understatement of the year) but my hope is that one of the few large outdoor-lifestyle publishers left—say the publishers of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life—would take a chance on a strong “vertical” brand like Deer and Deer Hunting and add it to their lineup. This one deer magazine is all any outdoor publisher would want.

Deer hunting and whitetail in particular dominate and drive the entire hunting industry. If not for deer and those of us that hunt them, there would be no hunting media of any kind.

Surely there is a way for a print publisher to figure it out, and peddle enough advertising targeted to America’s 10 million deer hunters to keep 6 issues of Deer and Deer Hunting on the shelves, and a digital version on our devices 24/7/365.

Wishful thinking.


How Will “Bomb Cyclone” and Snowmelt Flooding Affect Deer?

floods deerThe recent bomb cyclone combined with spring snowmelt has swelled some Midwest rivers to record levels and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes. The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared emergencies. Some of the water-logged areas are bracing for more rain this week.


How will all this flooding affect whitetail deer in the region?

Biologists say that rising floodwaters of river and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and weeks. But the deer will eventually filter back into their habitats once the waters recede.

Good news is that pregnant does will move out of rising water now and for the next few weeks. The primary concern for deer herds in and around flood zones is later on in May and June, when the does start dropping fawns.

“But fawn survival in flood plains is typically very high, even during flood years,” says noted whitetail scientist Grant Woods. “To cause any significant problems in a herd, the water levels would have to rise very rapidly and be timed when the peak of fawn births occur, and before the fawns are mobile. This is a relatively narrow window of time. Rivers rarely rise that quickly, and does are excellent mothers.”

One concern, though, is how the current Midwestern flooding might wash away and/or flatten preferred fawning cover for later on this spring. “If does are forced to fawn in fields or woods where there isn’t as much cover as usual, coyote predation on the fawns can increase,” says Grant.

The cumulative effects of the bomb cyclone, snowmelt and flooding later on this spring could impact fawning cover in some areas, but that remains to be seen.