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How To Tell The Age Of Your Turkey

Identifying Your Wild Turkey

How to Identify a Jake (sub-adult) Turkey

An adult gobbler is a male turkey having at least one of the following characteristics:
1. Wing feathers have white barring all the way to the tip
2. The beard is longer than six inches.
3. Tail feathers are the same length.

A jake is a sub-adult having all of these characteristics:
1. Outermost wing feathers lack white barring all the way to the tip.
2. The beard is six inches or shorter.
3. The central tail feathers are longer than the rest.

How to Tell the Sex & Age of a Turkey

Determining the age and sex of wild turkeys taken during turkey seasons is important to wildlife managers for a number of reasons. Accurate age and sex data allow managers to determine the number of the previous summer’s young turkeys in the harvest, and allow estimation of population age structure and harvest vulnerability.

Sex: Examine Turkey Breast Feathers. If breast feathers are black-tipped, the bird is a male. If the breast feathers are buff- or brown-tipped, the bird is a female

Age: Examine Turkey Wing and Tail Feathers. If the two outermost wing feathers are barred to the tip and the tip of the feathers is rounded and blunt, and if the tail feathers are all the same length, the bird is an adult.

If the outermost two wing feathers are not barred to the tip and are pointed, and if the central tail feathers are longer than the outer tail feathers, the bird is a juvenile.

General Characteristics

Adult male turkeys (gobblers) are characterized by black-tipped breast feathers, blunt or rounded two outermost wing feathers with white barring to the tip, tails with all feathers about the same length, spurs usually greater than ˝ inch long, beards usually greater than six inches long, and weights typically greater than 15 pounds.


Adult females turkeys (hens) are characterized by buff- or brown-tipped breast feathers, blunt two outermost wing feathers with white barring to the tip, tails with all feathers about the same length, no spurs, usually no beard, and typical weights of eight to 12 pounds.

Juvenile male turkeys (jakes) are characterized by black-tipped breast feathers, pointed outermost two wing feathers with white barring stopping well shy of the tip, uneven tails with the central tail feathers longer than the outermost ones, either a spur scale or spurs less than ˝ inch long (button), beards from ˝ to 6 inches long, and usual weights from five to 18 pounds depending on whether killed in fall or spring season.

Juvenile female turkeys (jennies) are characterized by buff or brown-tipped breast feathers, pointed two outermost wing feathers with white barring stopping well short of the tip, uneven tails, no spurs, usually no beard, and weights from three to 10 pounds depending on whether killed in fall or spring season.

Using the Spur or Beard to guess age.