Can you identify whether this gobbler is a juvenile or an adult? Find out and the end of this article.
A gobbler answers your calls and sounds as if he is getting closer. He's a cautious bird though and is taking his sweet time closing the distance. You decide to glass the woods and soon catch glimpes of him as he slowly works his way closer. You softly call again but competition, a real hen, soon interupts and she sounds much better than you. The gobbler also likes her seductive yelps and is soon heading her way. You'll need to make a move soon in order to get in front of him and cut off this intruder hen. Is it worth it though? Did you get a good look at the gobbler? Is he a mature Tom with the prospects of long spurs and a ground scraping beard or is it a juvenile gobbler that you would rather not harvest?
Although you did get a few peeks at him with the binos, you didn't see the most reconizable parts for dicerning gobbler age - the beard, spurs or tail fan. No worries, there are other identifiers to help you determine whether or not a gobbler is indeed a mature or juvinile bird. The included graphic reveals a few of the obvious and not so obvious ways to tell the difference between the two.
Tail fan: An adult gobbler will have a uniform fan with all feathers the same length unless a missing feather is in the process of being replaced and a juvenile will have longer feathers in the middle.
Spurs: 3/4" or longer indicate a mature bird while small, round bumps are found on juvenile males.
Wing Patch: A juvenile will have a wing patch that is about 2 inches or so in length while an adult will have a patch that is closer to 4 inches.
Crown: While a juvenile almost has no crown at all, an adult gobbler will have a one that seems to get larger and droop more and more as the gobbler ages.
Beard: In general, a short, 3 to 4 inch beard indicates a juvenile while a long, hanging beard indicates an adult but beard length can also be affected by disease, weather conditions and other factors.
Snood & Caruncles: Caruncles of a juvenile are usually small (dime size) while the adult's caruncles are much bigger (larger than a quarter). The snood of an adult is capable of hanging a few inches below the beak when relaxed unlike that of a juvenile and is much thicker than a juvenile's snood when retracted in the upright position.
Do you know of another example not shown here? Feel free to contact us so that we may share it.
Answer: The gobbler pictured at the top of the article is a juvenile.