Super Rare Turkey Killed In Talbot County

A bird with black coloring and no spurs is something WRD’s turkey biologist had never heard of before.

Mike Bolton | April 11, 2024

Michael Barnes with his super rare gobbler in Talbot County.

Talbot County’s Michael Barnes was just looking to get his first turkey of the season last Sunday morning. He never dreamed he’d get a turkey that even the experts say the likes they’ve never seen before.

“When I shot it and got to it, the first thing that I noticed was that it didn’t have any spurs,” the Woodland resident said. “A few minutes later after looking at him good, I realized that it had solid black wings.”

A gobbler with no spurs happens on rare occasions. A gobbler with a solid dark color configuration is also rare. A gobbler with no spurs and solid black wings is unheard of.

“Wow, that is a very unique turkey,” said Emily Rushton, WRD’s State Wild Turkey Coordinator. “It is indeed melanistic, a color phase that occurs when the turkey overproduces melanin, which causes the dark feather coloration. I have not ever known melanism to be associated with lack of spurs. To harvest a gobbler with those two different rare characteristics is pretty amazing and probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Michael’s melanistic turkey had black feathers.

Everyone that Michael showed the turkey to says they have never seen anything like it.

“I knew it was a weird bird,” he said. “Everybody was saying that it was a trophy, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime bird. I decided to send photos to a friend in Tennessee who has been turkey hunting forever and see what he thought about it. When he was amazed, I thought that I might really have something here.”

To have such a dramatic end result, the hunt itself was pretty routine, Michael said.

“I had roosted this bird the night before,” he said. “I called to this bird, and he answered right back. I knew he was across a creek, but I thought that maybe if I set up right next to the creek I might get a shot.

“He flew down and made a big loop. After about five minutes, he started walking toward me. When he got to within 35 yards of me, I had to move the gun slightly to get a shot in line, and he came to a dead stop. He raised his head, and that was it. It was all over by 7:30.”

Michael’s turkey also had no spurs, an occurrence that is rare but has nothing to do with his bird being melanistic.

Michael, 33, went on his first turkey hunt at age seven but didn’t kill his first gobbler until he was 18. He got serious about turkey hunting five or six years ago. He now has 11 to his credit. He says he needed the maturity to understand the importance of patience.

“Originally, patience was not my strong suit,” he said with a laugh.

Michael says he plans to mount the fan, the beard and the feet on a board. Why not a full body mount?

“Saving money,” he said. “We are expecting our first child in July.”

Michael said he is blessed.

“It has always been a dream of mine to have a place like where I hunt,” he said. “My wife’s family has been on this place for four generations. They let us put a house on it.

“The turkeys here do what they are supposed to do. You call, they gobble, and they come to a call.”

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  1. jmartin_ on April 18, 2024 at 11:09 am

    “You call, they gobble, and they come to a call.” Wow, the turkeys I hunt seem to do the opposite. LOL

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