Ageing a wild turkey

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Ageing a wild turkey

Postby stumpjumper » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:09 am

Here is a rough estiment on how to age a turkey by measuring the spurs. Please keep in mind however that the habitat the bird lives in will affect these measurements. Such as Merriams verses Osceolas. Merriams live in rougher terrain and rocks and such will grind the tips down somewhat where Osceolas live in flat softer areas and tend to have sharper spurs.


Spur Length Age
0" to 1/2" 1 year or a jake
1/2" to 7/8" 2 years
7/8' to 1" 3 years
1" and above 4 plus years

Source - Keck - "Talk'n Turkey"
Turkey Call Magazine May/June 2001 p. 104

Spur Length Curvature Sharpness Age
0" to 1/2" Straight Rounded 1 year or a jake
1/2" to 7/8" Straight Blunt 1 1/2 years (fall)
2 years (spring)
1' to 1 1/2" Slight Curve Pointed 2 to 3 years
Over 1 1/2" Curved Sharp over 4 years


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age

Postby The Waterfowler » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:45 pm

This is all relative as a Jake was trapped and banded in Kentucky and killed 5 years later and only had 3/4 inch spurs. So, it's not a infallible guide IMO.
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Postby A-Bomb » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:54 am

I agree, there are definitely ecseptions, but this is probably a pretty fair guide on turkey age overall.

For instance, my Dad killed a tom a few years ago that had half inch spurs, full fan and a 10" beard. We didnt weigh it, but it was definitely a mature bird. Id guess 19-21#
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Postby Pete-pec » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:07 am

Totally agree with the last statement. The biggest bird I ever shot was 26 pounds. The beard was very thick (I'm talking 3 times thicker than a normal one) and was 11 inches, however the spurs were smaller than 3/4 inches. This bird actually grew some big spurs, but only when it came to diameter. They were very thick, but came to a small blunt point. The terrain here has some limestone, but plenty of soft soil as well. Can you take a spur and cross-cut it and count the annual rings like a fish or a tree? Could the bird I harvested have been a two year old bird? Maybe, but he must have had one of the best grasshopper diets that any one bird could have had. :rofl:

I will however make this one statement. If you shoot a bird with hooks approaching or surpassing the 1 inch mark, you can be assured that he was at least 3 years old. I however don't think that spurs at the 3/4 inch mark necessarily mean it's only a two year old bird either. I'm happy any time I shoot an adult bird, just like everyone else, and most importantly, we really don't start to take measurements until the bird has stopped flopping on the ground, and spur length, beard length and the weight of the bird are all just measurements, and a bonus to the hunt. I think we all will agree that the true measurement is the thrill of the hunt, and the agony of defeat. :thumbsup:


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Postby A-Bomb » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:46 pm

Pete,
I love that last line brother. :thumbsup:
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Postby callumcuffumkillum » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:25 pm

I think its more about the curve, color, and sharpness not the overall length. The curve of the spurr is probably the most dependable :thumbsup:
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby magogwhacker » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:52 am

I noticed a big difference in the spurs of birds in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. I've shot a few big ones down there with beards over 10" and weighing 18 pound plus...every one of them has short dull rounded spurs from the rocks. The big birds I've gotten here in Vermont all have long curved sharp ones. The habitat effect the spurs a lot I think, not just the age. Overall though, the figures look accurate, as long as the habitat isn't so rocky that it wears off the spurs.
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby fowlhunter » Sat May 02, 2009 11:05 pm

I shot a bird friday morning. It had a 9 1/2 beard and the spurs were only 3/4, but they are a dark tan color with white tips. Is this an old bird? It looked older, bit it wasn't the boss. At least it wasn't strutting. Do you guys have any ideas?
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Re:

Postby FloridaFowler » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:38 pm

Pete-pec wrote:Totally agree with the last statement. The biggest bird I ever shot was 26 pounds. The beard was very thick (I'm talking 3 times thicker than a normal one) and was 11 inches, however the spurs were smaller than 3/4 inches. This bird actually grew some big spurs, but only when it came to diameter. They were very thick, but came to a small blunt point. The terrain here has some limestone, but plenty of soft soil as well. Can you take a spur and cross-cut it and count the annual rings like a fish or a tree? Could the bird I harvested have been a two year old bird? Maybe, but he must have had one of the best grasshopper diets that any one bird could have had. :rofl:

I will however make this one statement. If you shoot a bird with hooks approaching or surpassing the 1 inch mark, you can be assured that he was at least 3 years old. I however don't think that spurs at the 3/4 inch mark necessarily mean it's only a two year old bird either. I'm happy any time I shoot an adult bird, just like everyone else, and most importantly, we really don't start to take measurements until the bird has stopped flopping on the ground, and spur length, beard length and the weight of the bird are all just measurements, and a bonus to the hunt. I think we all will agree that the true measurement is the thrill of the hunt, and the agony of defeat. :thumbsup:



Did you mean to say "the agony of da-feet" :lol: :grooving: Love me a good pun (or even a bad one). Sorry, couldn't resist.
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby Suncutter » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:35 pm

Count the growth rings around their bung hole to be sure :thumbsup:
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby callumcuffumkillum » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:52 pm

Turkeys with bigger heavier bodies also means that they are not the dominant bird. Dominant birds spend all day chasing tail feather and fighting off intruders so they lose a lot of weight in the spring. Other than that the weight of a bird has nothing to do with age. Some of the biggest turkeys ive killed spur wise have had the smallest body. And there also is a sure fire way to tell a 2 year old bird. When turkeys first start growing there beards they have a red tint to them if you hold it into sunlight, a 2 year old bird hasnt had time for his beard to grow long enough to wear that part off so if you kill a bird with a redish bottom half hes 2 :thumbsup:
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby alanwebfoot » Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:30 am

FEATHERS I know that sounds crazy but I've seen it all jakes with healthy beards old birds with spindly ones. Beards can get iced over in bad winters and break off, spurs can be worn down ,but feathers on an old tom are more developed more colorful and check out the thickness or diameter in a truly mature toms tail feathers!!
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby callumcuffumkillum » Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:43 pm

i know an older bird will have a bigger fan with more pronounced feathers but is there a way to actually determine its age to the year?
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby alanwebfoot » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:39 am

NO but Iv'e seen what appeared to be an ''old'' bird because of beard length have smaller fans less prononced color and feathers over all were shorter duller and less full,,, the markings of a young bird [jake]
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby callumcuffumkillum » Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:28 pm

yea jakes will have middle feathers longer than the rest. Fact is, as long as its a longbeard, its a trophy gobbler and i think any turkey hunter will agree, its about the hunt, not the kill :thumbsup:
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Re: Ageing a wild turkey

Postby hawglips » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:53 pm

Genetics comes into play in a big way with spur length and age.

I know of a rio (Texas bloodlines) that was 5 years old and had spurs slightly under 1". This bird lived in an environment with no rocks or anything else that could break or blunt his spurs, and had a good nutrition diet.
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