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Old April 12, 2019, 08:32 AM   #1
Prof Young
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Beard but no spurs?

So I bagged my spring turkey this morning. It has a 120 mm long beard, but no spurs. The tail feathers are all the same length. Did I shoot a bearded hen? Or is it an "older" jake?

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Old April 12, 2019, 10:39 AM   #2
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My SWAG, is bearded hen ???

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Did I shoot a bearded hen?
I have never shot a bearded hen but am aware that they exist. All the jakes and toms I have shot have had spurs. …..

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Old April 12, 2019, 11:42 AM   #3
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Beards or spurs are not sexually diagnostic in and of themselves. You can get a hen with a beard, spur or spurs and you can get a jake or gobbler that may be beardless or missing a spur or spurs.
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Old April 12, 2019, 11:57 AM   #4
NoSecondBest
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I'm curious as to what state you hunt in where the beards are measured in metric?. You'd be surprised how many hens have beards. Sometimes they're very small and kind of hidden in the breast feathers, but they're there. Double Naught gave a good answer. What color was the head of the bird? When they come in to the call, the Toms have a red head. If the tail feathers are all the same length, it's not a jake. At two years of age the tail feathers become even in length. I shot a hen once that had three beards. She was a fall bird so she was legal. Actually, she would be legal in the spring. The call out here is having a beard to be legal.
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Old April 12, 2019, 03:14 PM   #5
kilotanker22
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I have had several friends who have harvested bearded hens. I have never done that myself, but they are definitely not too uncommon
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Old April 12, 2019, 08:05 PM   #6
Mobuck
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How did you determine sex before shooting, by a visible beard alone? While this is usually legal, I pass those bearded hens as they nest just the same as "normal" hens.
Gobbler heads are colored differently and the tail feathers have a black line.
PS
Even jakes will have little nubs where the spurs will be.

Last edited by Mobuck; April 13, 2019 at 06:11 AM.
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Old April 14, 2019, 03:10 PM   #7
std7mag
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Here in PA, if it has a beard, it's legal for spring turkey.
Either sex in fall.
All taste the same, delicious!!

Congrats on a successful harvest!!
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Old April 15, 2019, 04:23 AM   #8
buck460XVR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by std7mag View Post
Here in PA, if it has a beard, it's legal for spring turkey.
Same here in Wisconsin......, altho if it's a male, it does not need to have a beard. Weight? Did it have black or brown tips on it's breast feathers? Hens also have much shorter outside toes on their feet. Short feathers on the back of the head or bare all the way??
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Old April 15, 2019, 01:10 PM   #9
Prof Young
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The more I read . . . .

The more I read and study the more I think this was a bearded hen. Thinking about the head color before I took the shot it may have been more blue than red. Definitely red after the shot, actually almost not there. I'm in IL and the turkey tag has a ruler on it in millimeters that one uses to measure and report the beard. Plus this beard was a puny little thing. I'm starting to think I should have waited longer to see if more birds showed up. Ah well . . . still have lots to learn about hunting. Oh, and in Illinois a bearded hen is legal in the spring or fall.

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Old April 15, 2019, 03:04 PM   #10
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Shots we wish we could take back !!!

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Ah well . . . still have lots to learn about hunting.
Prof
I hope you're not beating yourself up, over this shot. I do not know of a hunter that is not on a learning curve. We have all taken shots we wish we could take back. Some actually haunt me, like the time I almost shot my hunting buddy.

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Old April 17, 2019, 04:30 AM   #11
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Prof.....don't beat yourself up about it. What you did was legal and took enough skill to call in a hen, which many times are more wary than a lovesick tom/jake. Some folks actually consider a bearded hen a trophy since they are fairly rare. All of the bearded hens I have seen in the field had fairly thin/scrawny beards. One reason most states go by beards as a identification is because head color and other characteristics to identify the birds by sex is not easy or readily done by hunters new to the sport. Seeing a beard makes the decision easy....it's legal.
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Old April 17, 2019, 10:24 AM   #12
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Don't get to excited about shooting one bearded hen. It's not going to destroy the breeding stock over one bird. Predation is a far more serious threat to turkeys than hunters are regardless of what the hunters do. Also, what you did was legal, so just roast that bird and move on to the next one. Any turkey called in and harvested legally is a trophy.
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Old April 17, 2019, 09:26 PM   #13
bamaranger
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10 percent

Sources say that about 10 percent of hens will be bearded. A hen beard is almost always thin, like a pencil, and about 4-6" at the longest. They will breed and nest and raise poults.

Gobblers distinguishing characteristics are a large, fleshy head, neck and wattles, the wattles often brilliant red in the spring. There is a white fleshy crown on the top of the head. Predominant body color always strikes me as iridescent black, almost like a giant lump of coal. In hand, a gobbler breast feather will have a black iridescent band across the top. Of course there is the beard and spurs. Good gobblers (20 lbs plus) may seem enormous in size.

Hens neck and heads are largely feathered by comparison. Head flesh color is a dull blue. Predominant body color always strikes me as a dull slate gray, trending towards brown. There is little, if any iridescence. In hand, a hen feather will have a buff, tan/brown band across the top. Hens trend smaller than gobblers, maybe 15 lbs tops, but that is guess, as I've never killed/weighed a hen.

Sounds to me like the bird killed was a bearded hen. Any jake I've killed or handled, will have minimally a pea sized bump for spurs. Lack of spurs says hen to me. It happens. If legal, I wouldn't sweat it, and use it as a learning experience.

I'll add, if I have to ask myself, "Is that a hen or a gobbler,?", It almost always turns out to be a hen. Given good light and reasonable distance, a gobblers appearance is usually striking, and seen together, the difference between the two is readily apparent.
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