How do you tell "Toms" age

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How do you tell "Toms" age

Postby GobbleGobble » April 28th, 2008, 4:20 am

[:D]Hey there Friends,
A coworker came to work saying he shot a 3 year old Tom.
How would he know the age- if the turkey is not carrying a ID stating when he was born? [:D]
I assume it has to do with the beard and or spurs????
Needless to say the birds did not come my way over the weekend... so it is easy to tell the age of the bird that I have [:(]

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RE: How do you tell "Toms" age

Postby Fan Club » April 28th, 2008, 5:34 am

The only reliable indicator of adult gobbler age is spur length and shape.
[ol][*]Two year old gobblers usually have blunt spurs of 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in length.
[*]Three year old spurs are usually at least an inch long, are more pointed and have started to curve.
[*]A gobbler four years or older will have spurs over 1 and 1/4 inches, they will have very sharp points and are noticably curved.[/ol]
A tom that can literally be hung upside down by his spurs from a tree branch is said to be a "limb hanger."
Beards and body weight are not reliable indicators. Two year olds can have long beards and heavy body weight depending on nutrition. Older boss gobblers can have lesser body weights from extensive breeding activity and fighting. Also after about 11 inches, the beard wears off at about the same rate it grows because of dragging on the ground during feeding.
Let us know if your buddy was correct.
"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

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RE: How do you tell "Toms" age

Postby RutnNStrutn » April 28th, 2008, 5:37 am

You really can't know for sure, unless it's a jake.
People have general ideas of how a bird's stats for their area, but there are many factors.
Weight can vary greatly depending on nutrition available in the turkey's home range, the winter they had, and how much breeding they are doing.
Beards can get mites, be broken off on rough terrain, be burnt off when a turkey is feeding in a fresh burn, break off when ice forms on it in winter, etc.
Spurs are usually the best indicator, but they can be broken off fighting, or on rocks in rough terrain.

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RE: How do you tell "Toms" age

Postby tracebusta32 » April 28th, 2008, 5:58 am

There are 5 ways to tell a turkeys age...
1) Tail Feathers: Young turkeys, from about 4-5 months of age until their second autumn, can be determined from older turkeys by the molting pattern of the large tail feathers. These feathers are called "retrices". These feathers are molted from the outside inward from both sides at once. In the bird's first fall and until spring, the center 4-6 feathers will be longer than the outside ones because of a partial molting pattern. By the second fall, the molt has caught up and the retrices will be all the same length. That is, in the first fall and the spring thereafter, these juvenile birds will show an uneven tail pattern when the retrices are spread out. The center feathers will protrude a few inches beyond the outside ones.
2) Wing Feathers: The outer wing feathers (9th and 10th "primary" feathers, counting from the outside of the wing inward) show a distinct pattern in juvenile birds as compared to adults. In the first fall, these 2 primary feathers are not replaced in the molt. They are pointed, dark near the tip, and show little or no white barring. In adults, in which these feathers are molted along with the others, the 9th and 10th primaries are rounded near the tip (or worn down, if from a strutting male) and have white barring all the way to the tip. 
(3) Spur: For adult males, spur length is somewhat useful in determining age, but it is not an absolute character. Generally, a spur less than 1/2-inch represents a juvenile bird, with those 1/2 to 7/8 inch from 1-year-old birds, and those 7/8 inch and larger are from birds 2 years or older.

4) Beard: Beards may also show a differentiation by age, with 3 to 5 inch ones from 1-year-old birds ("jakes"), 6 to 9" from 2-year-olds, and 10" or larger from gobblers aged 3 years or more. The reliability of this aging method is also somewhat suspect, though, as beards often wear off or break.

(5) Leg Color: The color of the lower leg can provide a rough indication of age. Young birds have a considerable amount of dark pigment in the leg and foot scales, producing a brownish or gray color. As the birds age, this pigmentation is lost and the leg color turns more pinkish or reddish.

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RE: How do you tell "Toms" age

Postby GobbleGobble » April 28th, 2008, 6:42 am

[:)] WOW..... You guys are the best!
[8|]Thanks for the info[8|]

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RE: How do you tell "Toms" age

Postby Gobblernut » April 28th, 2008, 12:47 pm

[:D] Gobblegobble!! If you hunt it call it and kill it... Regardless of it's age it should be a trophy to you after all this is the hardest bird on the planet to hunt ..As far as age goes I think it's a matter of opnion although I would like to know the scientific way to tell..Great question..

You can't kill'em sittin on the couch!!!!

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