Rare Black-Phase Gobbler Killed

Jacob Mullis was able to harvest a rare melanistic turkey, which only occurs in 1 out of 10,000 wild turkey.

Savannah E'Dalgo | March 30, 2017

Jacob Mullis, of Macon, experienced a once-in-a-lifetime turkey hunt on March 26 when he harvested a rare melanistic turkey in Twiggs County. The gobbler he took was a “black phase” melanistic turkey that WRD says is so rare that only one in 10,000 turkeys carry that trait.

“There are three color phases of wild turkey in Georgia. The smoke-grey color turkeys would be the most common color variation. Then there are the erythritic (red phase) and the melanistic (black phase), which are both equally rare,” said Kevin Lowrey, a WRD biologist.

On the morning Jacob killed his rare bird, he brought along two friends for the hunt including his best friend from high school, Charles Stroud, and his Young Life leader, Robert Brown, who has never been hunting before. Because of rain at daylight, the hunters didn’t start hunting until about 8 a.m.

“We heard two birds gobbling from the roost, so we stopped where we were on the golf cart and walked up the road and set up in a food plot about 250 to 300 yards from where we thought they were. We put out the decoys,” said Jacob.

Jacob said he was the one on the gun since Robert doesn’t hunt a lot and Charles was calling. They heard three or four birds and thought they were moving away.

“We probably sat for 15 to 20 minutes, and we looked up, and they were gobbling about 50 yards from the edge of the food plot,” said Jacob. “About that time, they both saw the decoys and took off running toward them. The melanistic bird was the dominant bird and strutting around the decoys, so Charles told me to shoot the strutter. When I shot that bird about 30 yards away around the decoys, he folded up. The other bird started running, but he wasn’t running too fast, so I stood up, and I was able to shoot the other bird, as well.”

Kevin said he has only seen a few melanistic turkeys in his career with WRD.

“There is an area in southwest Georgia where you see a lot of turkeys with one or two solid black primary feathers, but Jacob’s bird is probably a true melanistic turkey. All the white that you normally see in the wing feathers has been replaced with black,” said Kevin.

After killing the bird, Jacob had no idea how rare the tom actually was.

“If it wasn’t for Charles, I probably would have cleaned him and gone on not thinking anything, but he immediately noticed something different with the turkey,” said Jacob.

Charles sent a picture to GON asking about how rare the bird was, and GON got in touch with WRD for an explanation.

“We usually don’t have a lot of success with turkeys in general, but to kill two in one hunt and one be one-in-10,000 turkey, I was ecstatic,” said Jacob. “It was an incredible experience, and I really feel like the Lord blessed us with that because that was an incredible hunt.”

If you kill a unique or interesting turkey this spring, GON would enjoy seeing it. E-mail your picture and full caption info (name and hometown, county, and details on the turkey) to [email protected].

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  1. maco_outdoors on March 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Congrats on the black phase gobbler

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