Saturday, April 8, marked the statewide opening day of wild turkey hunting season, however, Saturday April 1-7, was the youth season, where only the kids were allowed to get out and hunt before the adults get their shot.
That’s when Salemburg-native Ayden Smith, a 15-year old sophomore at Midway High School, bagged his prize — a rare, white turkey.
According to Ayden’s father, Norman Smith, who was with his son on that exciting day, white turkeys are as few as one in 350,000. There are also three different types of white turkeys. One is called a true albino, which is identified as a turkey being completely white with pink eyes and clear spurs. The second type is called a smokey, which is a blend between the true albino and a traditional black turkey. The turkey that Ayden harvested is a blend of those two types, as it is white all over and features a black beard.
According to Norman, this turkey was harvested south of Garland and had been seen by the locals for the past three years. He said that he and Ayden had decided this was the bird they wanted, even staking out and scouting it to make sure that this was the one they got.
“One thing we want people to know is that we scouted this bird pre-season and specifically chose this bird. It wasn’t a fluke shot. We staked him out,” Norman asserted.
The Smith’s shared that the hunt was a little difficult and featured some rather comical bloopers. It took three days for everything to fall perfectly into place.
“We started on Saturday, staked him out and finally got an eye on him, but he was about 200 yards out so we never could get a shot on him,” Norman said. “We returned on Sunday to do some more scouting and spotted him again, but just like the first time, he was too far out. We couldn’t get him any closer than 70 yards.”
The weather on Monday was uncooperative so the Smiths were unable to go out and try again.
But, then came Tuesday. Day three.
The Smiths headed back to their spot to set up once again, which proved to be difficult.
“It was one of those days where everything that could go wrong went wrong. One of our chairs malfunctioned, we were battling ticks, and we weren’t sure if all of this would scare away the bird,” Norman admitted.
But, their efforts paid off. After three days of staking out, one day of bad weather, and a minor stroke of bad luck, the turkey was within range. Ayden fired a shot and the hit was a success. And what comes next is national recognition.
Norman says that the bird was taken to a taxidermist in Johnston County last week. A couple of days later, the Smith family was contacted by the National Wild Turkey Federation, telling them that they are going to check out the turkey. It is expected that the federation will be presenting Ayden with a certificate for the turkey being that it is so rare. The federation will be scoring the turkey this week and will have a certificate presentation and Ayden will be in the national certification.
Ayden considers all of this an honor and does not count it lightheartedly.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized by a foundation. I never really thought I’d be honored by something like this and I hope that this can become a family tradition and I can pass it on through the generations,” he said. “It was a hard hunt and took us three days, but it was so worth it to get something so rare.”
Reach Daron Barefoot at [email protected]