Wild Turkey Hunting

As fall hunting season descends upon America, many hunters are preparing themselves for wild turkey season. This article highlights interesting facts, features and hunting tips for bagging a big game-day turkey. The largest recorded wild turkey weighed a whopping 37 pounds and is considered the largest North American game bird. Adult males, termed gobblers or toms, weigh an average of 16 to 24 pounds. Females, termed hens, usually weigh between eight to 10 pounds. The easiest way to differentiate between males and females are the feathers, head and beard, legs and height.

  • Feathers – Male turkeys have iridescent red, copper, green, gold and bronze feathered gobblers. Female turkeys are usually less colorful, sporting gray and brown feathers; designed by nature to conceal and camouflage their young, they blend in perfectly with their surroundings, especially when brooding a young herd. Very few wild turkeys grow unusual feather colors, but those that do are known to go through a color phase. Typically there are four main color phases: albino, smoky gray, erythritic (reddish) and melanistic (black).
  • Heads – Male turkeys sport bright, colorful almost featherless heads. When breeding, males’ heads turn bright shades of blue, white and red, changing within a matter of mere seconds. Hens’ heads are blue-gray and have some feathers for added camouflage. Caruncies are fleshy growths on the turkeys’ heads. Snoods are flesh protrusions that hang over the turkeys’ bills; they can contract and extend these at will and the males’ snoodies are typically larger than the females.
  • Beards – Growing a long cluster of feathers from the center of his chest, the male turkeys beard average nine inches in length. The record beard is 18 inches long but only 10 to 20-percent of hens ever grow beards.
  • Legs – With reddish-orange legs, turkeys have four toes on each foot. Male turkeys have large spurs on their lower back legs, which are pointed spikes that are used for self-defense and establishing dominance within the hierarchy. Spurs can grow up to an astonishing two inches, with the record at 2.25 inches.
  • Height – Averaging 12 to 15 inches in height, male turkeys have large fanning tails, displayed when attempting to attract a mate. An adult male turkey is known as a tom and a young male, a jake. Adult males’ feathers are uniform in size, while the jake’s appear ragged with some longer than others.

To help prepare hunters for turkey season, Jumping Targets offers several different size targets, which include metal spinning targets that help improve a hunter’s shooting skills. These steel targets are highly durable, lasting through many hunting seasons and are excellent for high power rifle targets.

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