News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 24, 2011

REDNECK QUAKER: Dedicated hunter harvests rare red-colored turkey

Kenny Bayless
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — About the time you think you have seen it all, you better look again.

I received word that a devoted turkey hunter had harvested a rare colored eastern turkey. Not doubting the claim, I decided I needed to be educated so I called a young man who is an expert in the wildlife field after being taught by his late father Larry Schmeltz.

I called Josh Schmeltz and woke him up from a short night of competing in a catfish tournament that he won — and yes you are going to hear more about him in the future. He is an oustanding taxidermist.

There are three different colors of birds in this area: red, black and smoke colored. If he sees one or two red-colored birds out of 100 that’s a good average, Schmeltz said.

Doug Falls, who lives near Mecca, lives turkey hunting. Doug is in the national guard and devoted to his country as well as his family.

Between being a carrier counselor in the national guard and a full-time job, he has three days off per month. Some of you folks out there step up and try that and still find time for turkey hunting.

Parke County has been his home most of his life, and Falls started turkey hunting in 1986. He makes his own box calls using the wood from a cedar tree. Falls says it gives the call a higher pitch, and after all, turkeys don’t have the same exact voice. Who knows? That high pitch may sound more sexy to those old gobblers.

Two hens with this red color had been seen before.

Doug says he likes the basics, getting away from decoys because they draw in boss hens and make the gobblers cautious. We try to reverse nature, trying to get a gobbler to come to hens instead of a hen going to the gobbler.

This old bird had two hens and a jake with him, which makes it even more hard to get him to travel to you. This gobblereven crossed a stream, which tells you how well the calling was done. A gobbler is extremely hard to cross a barrier of any kind, all the way from a small stream to a brush pile or a deep ravine.

This bird had two white feathers in the center of his fan, which is very rare. He sported a 10-inch beard, and was three years old, weighing in at 20 pounds. This old boy fell from a model-120 pump Winchester 12-gauge shotgun from 48 yards. What a shot!

With little time to hunt, it has proven for Falls to spot and stalk, he doesn’t have the luxury of time to sit in a blind. A weeknight in the second week of the season during late evening worked well for Falls. He also cautions about your movement because you never know when a satelite bird may popup while that gobbler is in front of you.

Josh Schmeltz is going to do a rug-type mount to hang on the wall. It will bring out the color of the beautiful red bird.

Kenny Bayless can be reached by e-mail at