Oklahoma farmer bringing back extinct Buff Turkey breed

TULSA - It's not unusual for turkey farmers to be busy this time of year, but one Green Country farmer has his hands full with more than just the typical holiday hullabaloo.

Alrus Walters lives in the quiet, rolling hills of Adair County. He's a man of many talents, a Renaissance man in many respects, that even developed a solar cooker, which allows for his home to be heated with the day's sunlight.

Lately Walters has been interested in genetics. 

"What I'm trying to do, you'll notice the tail feathers," he said, displaying a bird's hind end. "They should be all brown where normally they are white tail feathers."

Those brown feathers are attributed to the "Buff Turkey," a natural breed not seen since the 1800s.

"I believe this is the true Buff, course that was before my time," he said of his nostalgic creation. "Can't find too many pictures to go by but from what I read and go by this is a true Buff."

Walters started experimenting with the breed five years ago and says he still has a couple of more years left before reaching his goal for the fowl. 

As with every Thanksgiving season, Walters shipped his flock of 200 turkeys to the processor, keeping the best 20 birds in hopes of perfecting the return of the Buff.

Walter's turkeys are in demand, too. Admirers from as far away as St. Louis have called to order his unique birds. And Walter admits people often think his turkeys have the best flavor, and have voted that way in taste tests, but he's more than happy letting them -- and his hens and toms -- do the talking.

"Well, bragging is for somebody else, you don't want to pat yourself on the back too much, let somebody else say something about the bird and they will give you an honest opinion," Walters said.

As for why he goes through the sometimes painstaking trouble of bringing back the line of lost turkeys, Walters says it simple.

"I like to see things that are right," he said.

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