BONNER — The evening started with 43 turkeys and within the hour, they were gone. 

It's a tradition revitalized five years ago by owner and manager of the Bonner Mill, Mike Boehme, along with his partner Steve Nelson. 

"There was a tradition at the mill to deliver turkeys to the workers and all 43 homes that we visited tonight were occupied by people that worked at the mill," Boehme said. "We thought as a goodwill gesture to all of our tenants, that we would give them turkeys." 

Along with four freshmen from the University of Montana football team, Boehme and a small contingent of volunteers broke into two groups to deliver the turkeys. 

Linebacker Marcus Welnel manned the three-wheeled pedicab filled with boxes of turkeys for a half-mile stretch of Highway 200 in Bonner. 

Operating the pedicab, though, took a second to get used to.

"At the beginning I had the parking brake on, so that was really hard to pull that and the turkeys," Welnel said, "but once a smart person told me to take it off, it was a lot easier and a lot of fun."

Rusty Olson was the first lucky recipient of a turkey and answered the door with a big smile.

"I think it's pretty freakin' sweet," Olson said of the tradition. "Mike and Steve are just such good guys, it kinda shows their character, this is what they are. They're rad."

Partnered with offensive lineman Payton Stoner, the two student-athletes encountered only Olson in the first four houses they approached, but that didn't get their spirits down.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Stoner said after leaving a turkey on the front step as he gave Welnel a push start toward the next home. 

Sure enough, the Grizzly football players wouldn't strike out much more. 

Trevor Arms was late answering the door but you could see the appreciation on his face. 

"It's pretty cool, I didn't expect to get a turkey," Arms said while holding the turkey like a football. "So yeah, this made my day."

Boehme brought back the tradition as a way to give back to the community and it definitely does not go unnoticed. 

Jerry Rogge has been living in his home since Boehme and Nelson reignited the turkey drive and had nothing but praise when sharing his thoughts. He said in his long renting history, he's never had a landlord do something like this. 

"It feels wonderful to be a part of it. How many people get to say their landlord gave them a turkey?" Rogge said. "Let alone show up for the delivery." 

Stoner echoed those sentiments, saying it was pretty special to help and give back to the community that has so much support for Griz football. 

"It's only right for us to come and show some support and give them some love with some turkeys," he said.

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