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The tale of a rare silver gobbler

March 18, 2008 at 07:55 AM

Illinois Outdoors

Here’s a turkey tale from the 2006 season to get you fired up for Gobble Quest 2008.

The story actually starts in 2005, when father Jeff McDaniel and son Joe, both of Jacksonville, were hunting a large field across from each other in Scott County. As birds left the roost they noticed one had some white tail feathers. The group of birds eventually worked over toward Joe, 16 at the time, who shot a gobbler and scattered the flock. Joe told his father he had not shot the white bird because it was a jake.
Illinois Outdoors

Needless to say, as the elder McDaniel wrote in a story about the rare bird for Big Game

“From that day on, the hunt for the “white” bird was on. I had another tag in the fourth season, and my oldest son had a fifth season tag. We encountered the “white” bird two more times in the 2005, but never could lure him into range. As the 2005 season concluded and the door was shut, I wondered if this bird would make it through until next season and would his plumage mature or would his distinct coloring loose it’s luster returning to the normal Eastern patterns?”

Turns out he need not have worried about the white gobbler. Jeff McDaniel encountered him first on April 13, 2006 during the first season. But in his excitement to hunt the bird, he pushed too hard and scattered the flock. And the bird was not spotted again during the second or fourth seasons.

Then on May 6 during fifth season, Jeff had another encounter with the white bird. This time the bird came to within 75 yards and, “seemed to be glowing, radiating, compared to the other Toms around him. It was awesome.” But the bird eventually wandered off onto neighboring property.

The next day, both father and son rose early to hunt and set up on the same field where they had first seen the white gobbler, agreeing that whoever had a shot should take it. Sure enough, the white bird was there with the rest of the flock. After the birds started moving into range, one hen got nervous. Joe was closest. He knew he had to shoot and made good on his shot. Said Jeff, “The shot sounded loud and strong, and the “white” bird went down. He yelled, ‘I got him, I got him.’ He or I couldn’t have been happier.”

Illinois Outdoors

What they had was a rare silver gobbler. In fact, Jeff McDaniel said he’s not been able to find another silver gobbler, only hens and a few gobblers with what is called smoke coloration. McDaniel said he was told by DNR biologist Paul Shelton that the silver color phase occurs when the color brown is
void in a turkey’s feathers. In an e-mail he explained:

“So, everything that is brown will be white. A male wild turkey has black tipped feathers, so the bird should be more black than white. The silver comes in because the brown under or inside the plume will be white. A female turkey has brown tip feathers, so they will
appear more white. Since the male’s fan is mostly brown, the color brown is void, leaving the fan white.”

DNR testing conducted by biologist Mike Romano at Western Illinois University proved the bird was wild and not a domestic cross, Jeff McDaniel said.

Last weekend, the McDaniels took their bird to sell at Circle M Auction’s Whitetail Classic in Dubuque, Iowa. The bird sold for $1,500 to a collector from California. Jeff McDaniel had left the auction arena briefly when the bird was sold. “I probably would have kept it for that price,” he said. “On the upside it’s going to a place where it’s going to be taken care of.”

As for this season, Jeff McDaniel said he’s not encountered another bird with similar coloration. “I’ve seen a few hens with white flickers in their feathers, but nothing like that,” he said. “That bird was something special.”

Illinois Outdoors

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Yet another rare and beautiful creature loses it’s life for no good reason.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 12:00 PM

Oh brother,Don’t you have anything else to do beside’s being pathetic….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 12:48 PM


If you are lamenting the death of one Illinois wild turkey this is not the best Web site for you to visit. I’m afraid the months to come would be too hard on you.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 03/18 at 01:19 PM


Did you miss where it said hunting is one of the things this site is all about?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 01:20 PM

I’m not going on an Anti-kill tangent, just why not shoot one of the thousands of “plain ol’” toms out there? Why go after a Special one? It escaped numerous times from this dude. I think he should have let the turkey go about his life

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 02:17 PM

Beautiful bird!  I would have shot it and had it mounted too.  Selling it…that is another matter…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 05:19 PM

Great trophy, I would of shot it too.  I suppose this Tim guy would let a boone and crockett go by too just to live out another day only to get poached,left to rot, hit by car, etc.  I would shoot it, mount it, and eat it.  Visit PETA’s website bro.  It may be better suited for your mind set.  By the way hunters and fishermen, visit  Lets amend Illinois constitution so we the people have the right to recall elected officials like Blagoblow.
Maybe we can get some money back into the DNR so we have a biologist who can manage our states turkey flock.  Then we can kill some more and eat some more fried turkey!!!!  Sorry Tim, I love turkey meat, I wouldn’t care if it was green. I would shoot it!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 06:23 PM

Why in the world would you sell the bird?  That makes no sense to me.  They could hunt for the next fifty years and never see another silver tom.  To me that is just plain greed and stupidity.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 06:45 PM

definitely would have harvested and mounted but would not have sold.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 06:48 PM

I wouldn’t think twice on pulling the trigger on that bird, but to sell a throphy that took you two years to get isn’t the way to go.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 09:10 PM

I wouldn’t judge this family for selling the mount.  With our wonderful economy and jobless rate soaring, who knows what this family may be going through. This may have been a sacrafice to save something more important to them.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/19 at 12:20 AM

My buddy saw a silver while hunting at Giant City in Maknada, and got it on video.  It was awesome.  Definitely would add a silver to my trophy collection, but never would sell, it’s sentimental.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/19 at 12:34 PM

I wish he would have let that bird walk away also, maybe he would have found his way to my blind wink. What a great mount, Congrats to you!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/27 at 04:28 PM

We have photos ... we have memories ... That bird will ALWAYS be Joe’s. I wanted it to go to the NWTF museum ... but they ... would not even work out any arrangement. The Museum in CA will display and I have an option to buy back.

And ... college is expense dudes ... my third one starts this year ... besides ... a trophy rooms doesn’t mean a thing but ego tripping ... that bird lives in our memory ... FOREVER.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/30 at 09:34 AM

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