An animal-rights group said a hunting club in Schuylkill County has backed down from holding a live turkey shoot next Sunday because of its threats to disrupt the event.
Steve Hindi, president of the Chicago Animal Rights Coalition, said yesterday that the Lone Pine Sportsmen's Club canceled the shoot to avoid bad publicity.
"The gun club president came out to see me [Sunday] and said that they would not hold any more live animal shoots if we would just leave them alone," Hindi said, "If he breaks his word, we'll come at him like never before. I hope he's trustworthy."
Hindi said he canceled a news conference scheduled for Thursday in Philadelphia and between 100 and 200 activists won't travel to Schuylkill County this weekend.
William McDonald of New Philadelphia helps organize the club's turkey shoots. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In June, Hindi clandestinely videotaped a turkey shoot at the Lone Pine club. He and other activists described the event as barbaric and cruel. Hindi planned to show the tape at the news conference. In stead, he distributed it to television stations.
Hindi said he found the event more disgusting than live pigeon shoots, like the one held each Labor Day in Hegins Townships.
A manager at a turkey farm that supplied the birds to the lone Pine said turkey shoots, like pigeon shoots, are a tradition in Schuylkill County.
In Hegins, sportsmen fire shotguns at pigeons released from traps. Some are wounded, some fly free and others are killed. The dead and wounded are discarded.
At turkey shoots, Hindi said no turkeys survive. Turkeys are plopped on top of a stack of car tires about 100 yards away from the riflemen. Their legs are put in a wooden stockade and their wings are tucked in the rim of the top tire.
Shooters pay about $5 for two shots at the turkey. If they kill it, they keep it, and the turkey is prepared on site for cooking.
CHARC members said the shooters don't instantly kill the birds. They said turkeys suffer for several minutes atop the tires with their heads or chests maimed before someone removes them to chop their heads off.
Hay bales stacked in from of the tires are meant to restrict shots to the head and ensure instant kills, but Hindi said many birds take hits to the body.
Hindi said the video graphically depicts the "horror" of the event. He said a national tabloid news show planned to attend the shoot Sunday.
"They got the footage, and they were appalled," Hindi said. "It would have blown Pennsylvania all over the map, which we would have liked. But our first priority was to save the animals from that kind of death."
The turkeys at the Lone Pine's June shoot were purchased from Koch's Turkey Farm in Walker Township. A manager there said turkeys slaughtered on the farm are stunned with electricity before their throats are slit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the turkey farm's operation.
A live turkey shoot is different from a turkey block shoot, where sportsmen shoot at targets to win store-bought turkeys.
Hindi said he has information that there are other shoots held in the region, and his group is investigating.
"I wish we didn't have to go after somebody and take undercover videos," Hindi said. "but if that's what we have to do, that's what we'll do. We go after animal abuse and this is very, very much animal abuse."