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Big bird may soon return to Matt campus
NWTF to help prepare turkey
Matt the Turkey plays basketball with Jesse Pilcher on Feb. 6. The Pilcher family is storing the turkey, which died after it was struck by a vehicle, until it can be stuffed. - photo by Submitted
A beloved wild turkey who was found dead over the weekend may soon have his own perch at the Forsyth County school that adopted him.

The bird was the unofficial mascot of Matt Elementary, where he roamed the campus and nearby woods. He appeared to have died after being struck by a car.

The turkey has since been preserved by Russ and Jill Pilcher, who are keeping him in a freezer once used for gardening storage.

Jill Pilcher said they put the bird on ice Saturday after talking with Kevin Lowrey of the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, who told them how to preserve it.

Lowrey said he would try to find the money to have the turkey stuffed to use for educational purposes or the school could raise its own funds for a display.

A funding source came through much sooner than expected.

Wes Dorsey, president of the Sawnee Mountain chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, said the group has offered to have the bird stuffed and mounted for the school.

“We saw that they were trying to raise money for that,” he said.

“We have money to spend here in the county and we wanted to go ahead and spend that if they wanted to have the turkey mounted in the school for educational purposes or as a remembrance.”

Dorsey said the federation also buys educational wild turkey boxes for all the elementary schools in the county. The boxes are similar to those used to catch wild turkeys and include educational materials about the birds.

“We try to do a lot of stuff in the community for kids and the environment,” he said.

Dorsey said he has called a taxidermist to see when Matt, also known as Turkey Lurkey, Jake and Matty, can be taken in.

Charlley Stalder, principal of Matt Elementary, said the school is grateful for the federation’s contribution.

“We look forward to working with them on the educational resources they can also provide to our students,” she said, adding that the stuffed Matt most likely would be set up in the school’s media center or the front lobby.

School system spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said the school may end up sharing the turkey with other schools.

She also confirmed that a turkey that had been spotted near Vickery Creek Middle School died late last year.

E-mail Julie Arrington at