After a torrential storm flooded half of Dillon County last Friday night, 15-year-old Noel Miller dropped the hammer on a truly-rare gobbler the next morning. It was no ordinary, long-bearded stud; with the exception of his long, black beard and pink head, it was completely white.
For the past five years, Miller and his grandfather, Jamie McCallum, both from Dillon, had watched the unusual turkey and several other birds with a few white features mixed in as they worked local agricultural fields. The pure white bird had been the talk of the town for half a decade.
“We have been watching him since he was a jake,” said McCallum. “Everybody around here had been talking about the white bird, and Noel couldn’t wait to get the chance at him.”
The rain stopped shortly after dawn on South Carolina’s youth-only turkey hunting day, giving Miller and McCallum a chance to search of a gobbler. As they rounded a curve on one of the county’s many secondary roads, Miller spotted the white gobbler on the edge of a cutover, right where his grandfather had been seeing him every day for the past few weeks.
“He was roosting on the edge of the cutover for quite a while, and he liked to strut along a logging road that crossed through the property,” McCallum said. “Noel got real excited when we saw him, and we quickly pulled off the road.”
McCallum parked his vehicle, and he and Miller slipped down the edge of the cutover and sat down on the edge of a logging road a couple of hundred yards from where they’d seen the bird. McCallum stroked out a sequence of clucks and soft yelps on a friction call, and the gobbler immediately responded.
After 30 minutes, the love-struck tom finally showed up. Miller had his gun propped up in just the right spot, and his 3 ½-inch turkey load found the bird’s head a few seconds after it stepped out on the waterlogged logging road.
“He was grinning like a possum,” McCallum said. “Noel had wanted to shoot the white gobbler since he was a little boy.”
The all-white bird weighed more than 20 pounds, had a 10-inch beard and 1½-inch spurs.
“It is the nicest set of spurs I have ever seen on any bird from around here,” says McCallum.
Miller’s turkey is an example of a natural anomaly. Typically, most turkeys carrying this trait will have white patches or some white streaks in their feathers, but very few will be all white. According to McCallum, another all-white turkey was killed in the same area five or six years ago. Since then, some partially-white hens and toms have surfaced in the local flock.