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Struttin’ Time

Questions answered, mind changed

Isn’t this great? We’re just getting started in the new year and I’ve already received more questions than I can answer all year. I love it!

One of my first questions comes from one of my all time favorite people, who never misses an issue of Struttin’ Time. She asks, “Steve, will you please explain just what you mean when you use the term ‘long beard?’”

My answer is that although the male turkey is often called a gobbler, most of us hunters use the term “long beard” to make sure other hunters know the turkey we killed was not a “jake,” a teen-age turkey of the male sex which is also referred to as a gobbler even though it is not fully grown and its beard is usually from one inch to six inches long.

A male turkey is referred to as a jake from birth to almost two years old. At two years his beard should be at six inches or better, thus making him an adult turkey. The spurs on a jake can be anywhere between being smooth against the leg to about three-quarters of an inch long. A two-year-old long beard will have at least seven inches of beard, and his spurs should be approaching an inch or better.

Remember, if you kill a jake he will never grow into a long beard, and thus will not be much of a trophy. I’m not telling anyone not to kill a jake, as I’ve done that in years past. And keep in mind a trophy is in the eye of the beholder. I hope I have made things “clear as mud” for all of you, and knowing my old friend of 40-plus years, she will let me know if I have.

I need to let you know something about me changing my mind. I need to be very careful how I word this, because you readers sometime get into a panic, and neither Ben Gish nor me wants that. I’m alive and well, feeling good and everything looks good.

Now to tell you what I’ve changed my mind about: I’m going after a Slam again this year, because it might be my last goaround. I start hunting in Florida on March 19, in Kansas on April 18, and in Nebraska on April 21. I will hunt Mexico for Gould’s turkey on May 2.

I know I told you last year I wouldn’t try that again, but I’ve changed my mind. I hope to add the Gould’s, the largest of the five subspecies, to make myself a Royal Slam. See you next week.



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