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Aging Turkeys


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What do you look for on birds to help figure out what age they are? Over the years we have killed 48 birds out of our turkey camp. We hunt both fall and spring seasons so roughly 30% of those birds are hens. There are a handful of jakes in there as well. Of the remaining Toms we have only killed 2 birds with spurs longer than 1". Are we killing a lot of 2 year old Toms? The average weight of these birds is 21lbs.-23lbs. but we have killed birds that weighed 24lbs.-25lbs. Are the heavier birds 3 y.o.? Any info would be great.

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Spurs are the only way you can guestimate a toms age. Short dull bump, 1 year old jake.

2 year old will usually have a 1/2" - 3/4" rounded or dull spur.

3 year old will usually be 7/8" - 1" and pretty sharp.

Anything longer and especially sharper will be 4+ years old. These are all generalizations, but should give you a good idea.

Other than the short beard of a jake, beards and weight are poor measurements of age.

Hens? I have NO idea.

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I didn't realize that a bird south of an inch may be 3 years old. That makes sence now. It is logical that we have only killed a couple 4 y.o.'s and a few more 3 y.o.s and more 2 y.o.s than anything.

I have another question for you:

When you watch Turkey videos and read articles you always see those birds have big hooks. Most the time they are hunting down south. Is ther just that many more birds in the Southern U.S. that they have a higher population of older birds? You may or may not know the answer to this.


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Be cool if they could band some birds when they're a chick, but do they have that knuckle like a goose so the band doesn't get to their toes. I observed a 25 pack of Toms all winter at my bird feeder 20 feet from the main window and you could tell somehwat the older from the younger but they aren't in that pack now so it'd be tougher, they were really on the go this morning wow.

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Most of the hunting shows you see on TV are filmed in primo private areas with little hunting pressure where birds have a much better chance of reaching old age, not exactly the same scenario you and I see in real world hunts.

Those big hooks come from older birds. The longer they get, the more "hook" they have to them. I also think the Osceola sub-species from Florida has longer sharper spurs than the other sub-species.

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