BHOD prostaffer, Dan Richardson, recently killed the gobbler of a lifetime when a red color phase turkey marched in to his setup. I reached out to Dan for a recap of the story. Here’s what he had to say…
I was checking trail cams on March 19th of 2018 at a post-season deer feeder and was shocked to discover a crazy red looking bird caught on camera. He only showed up a couple times then disappeared. Fast forward to April, in another location in a strut zone where I had a camera set up. He was now showing up there with two other toms but was less frequent than the other two. He might only show up once every several days. The cameras told me this was the place to hunt on the opener.
My son arrowed a dandy Tom that morning while I filmed it. I wanted to hold out for the red phase bird to show up, but a giant regular gobbler came in first and I couldn’t pass it up. Later that summer, I saw the red tom cross the road two different times. I was excited to possibly hunt him the following year.
Spring of 2019 rolled around and my cameras went back out to take inventory of what birds were in the area. I was getting pictures of toms and hens, but the red bird was a no-show. I thought he was not around anymore. Then, another trail cam check closer to the season opener had me smiling. Red had showed up again. With a little scouting work, I located the strut zone for where Red was hanging out on a regular basis and made plans for opening day.
Opening day found me and my son waiting on Red. We got close on a couple other birds, but nothing panned out.
I had it in my head that I wanted to only hunt Red, but questioned myself often. I figured I would probably give in if any big tom came in.
The next time I got to hunt was on a windy day with zero gobbling. I called a little, but was assuming the birds just weren’t moving that morning. And just like that, out of the corner of my eye I see a tom walking out of the woods into the lane straight for the decoys. It was Red! I couldn’t believe it. It happened so fast that Red was already flogging my decoy before I could even get the camera turned on. Knowing he was focused on the decoy, I had time to slowly grab my bow, draw and wait.
Red was oblivious to me as he remained focused on the decoy. I finally settled the pin and squeezed the trigger. The arrow went through Red and the decoy. I thought it was a money shot, but he ran 10 feet, stopped, wobbled for a second, then slowly walked away. I knocked a second arrow and put it through his back at 19 yards. He went into the death scoot and died 30 yards later. I sat there in disbelief as reality sunk in.
I had just killed a rare red color phase turkey that I had 2 years of history with. Unreal! I sent pictures to a very well known taxidermist in the area that specializes in turkeys. He said it was one of the darker reds that he had ever seen. Red will be getting a full body mount in the days ahead. Very blessed in Indiana!
Note: The erythristic, or red color phase, is one of several color oddities found in wild turkey populations. Black, white and smoky-gray colors have also been seen among turkey populations in the wild.