Spur length and Turkey age

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coconut
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Spur length and Turkey age

Post by coconut » May 26th, 2018, 9:42 am

Would most of you agree that longer spurs indicate older turkey age? If so have your harvested turkeys spurs been getting longer lately or shorter? I hardly ever see any turkeys much over an inch in my area anymore. Years ago it was common that I would kill or see a few with close to 1.5 inches in spur length. Me thinks we are harvesting to many turkeys. Lots of hunting. I think in 10 years pen raised turkeys will be a thing.

fountain
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by fountain » May 26th, 2018, 11:55 am

I will agree that its the most accurate way to age a gobbler, but it's still tough with this. I had one gobbler on camera that I could easily identify from at least 3 years back. I'm thinking this gobbler was 5+ and only had 1 1/4 spurs (didnt officially measure them). I could tell in the pics that he had some good curves to them, but you would figure they should have been longer at that age. This is in S Ga, so spur west isn't a real issue.

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Grumpy
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by Grumpy » May 26th, 2018, 11:58 am

These Merriams in North Central Montana don't seem to have very long spurs.
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10gaugemag
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by 10gaugemag » May 26th, 2018, 12:47 pm

I think we are hunting smarter turkeys than 20+ years ago. 20 years ago we killed several birds with 1 1/4-1 1/2" spurs, now they aren't s common but still killing birds.

Some of the areas I hunt have more birds than 20 years ago but far less gobbling. These older birds are breeding smarter birds so killing a very old bird with long hooks is less common.

Missouri birds here.

I did kill an adult bird in the Black Hills several years ago that had 3/4" spurs at best. Not sure, but either they don't grow much or are worn on all of the rock out that way.

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SwampDrummin
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by SwampDrummin » May 26th, 2018, 2:23 pm

Missouri did a tagging study where a substantial percentage of birds had shorter spurs on the second go round of being tagged. I’m at the beach or else I would look it up. It was something like 12-20%.

There is a genetic component to spurs as well, some just aren’t ever going to to giants. I think you can use spur length to differentiate between 2 and 3+ but that will discount some older birds. I think plumage would be a better way to differentiate between 2/3 year old birds than spur length, no studies to cite there just observation. 3 year old plus makes a greaT cape mount, 2 year olds do not.

If you throw subspecies into the equation, then 90 percent of the Merriams i’ve seen would be considered two year old anywhere else. Two year old Osceolas might cut the other way.

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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by jims » May 26th, 2018, 2:54 pm

From what I've been told, Merriams that live in rocky country possibly wear spurs down on rock. I've yet to harvest a mtn merriam in rocky country with very long spurs. The same merriam that lives in someone's back yard may not wander into the rocks much so I'm guessing he'd have possibly longer spurs.

From what I've seen across most of the Midwest states...gobbler numbers have taken a dive in recent years. With fewer toms and more hunters I would expect there to be a lot more pressure placed on older age class toms. There just may not be as many mature toms where you've been hunting than the same place 4 or 5 years ago? You can likely look up harvest and hunter number stats in the state or even the county where you hunt. If hunter numbers have increased and success decreased that is a pretty good indication that fewer toms are around....and guys can't be quite as picky as they once were?

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Southern Sportsman
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by Southern Sportsman » May 27th, 2018, 9:24 am

Spur length and age definitely correlate (i.e, long spurred turkeys are not young turkeys), but it’s not always exact. My boss has a turkey mounted in his cabin with what can only be described as average 1 1/8” spurs. It’s an eastern killed in ag country. If you showed the spurs to 100 turkey hunters, most would say it is “probably a 3 yr old.” But it was banded. It was released by the TWRA in 1989 as a jake. He killed it in 1998. 10 years old.

As for killing old turkeys, I think overall turkey numbers are down in a lot of places. Fewer turkeys means fewer old turkeys. I also think the explosion in use of sturtter decoys both for regular setups and “reaping” disproportionately removes dominant, older turkeys, which has an impact.
I go stubbornly into error by myself, and reach my own fallacious conclusions using my own faulty data. ~Tom Kelly

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hoobilly
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by hoobilly » May 28th, 2018, 10:43 am

I was told by a taxidermist the best way to judge age is the size of the roost bone.

He showed the different size roost bones from a Jake to a 5 year old They ranged from a golf ball size to almost a baseball sized bone.

Now that’s not actually the size of a baseball. But they get pretty big.

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poorcountrypreacher
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by poorcountrypreacher » May 28th, 2018, 4:49 pm

SwampDrummin wrote:
May 26th, 2018, 2:23 pm
Missouri did a tagging study where a substantial percentage of birds had shorter spurs on the second go round of being tagged. I’m at the beach or else I would look it up. It was something like 12-20%.

There is a genetic component to spurs as well, some just aren’t ever going to to giants. I think you can use spur length to differentiate between 2 and 3+ but that will discount some older birds. I think plumage would be a better way to differentiate between 2/3 year old birds than spur length, no studies to cite there just observation. 3 year old plus makes a greaT cape mount, 2 year olds do not.

If you throw subspecies into the equation, then 90 percent of the Merriams i’ve seen would be considered two year old anywhere else. Two year old Osceolas might cut the other way.
That was a really interesting study that proved a lot of commonly held ideas wrong. A turkey with really long spurs has to be pretty old, but short spurs don't prove that he is young.

I've killed more than 200 gobblers over a 53 year period, and have killed just one with 1.5" spurs. I killed a 2 year old this past season that had 1 and 1/8" curved spurs. The end of his beard was mostly amber, leaving no doubt that he was just 2. Spurs definitely tell you something about the age, but nothing like the whole story.

decoykrvr
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by decoykrvr » May 28th, 2018, 5:46 pm

I really haven't seen a decline in spur lengths during my 38 years of turkey hunting, and if anything am currently killing more long spurred gobblers, maybe because I've become a better hunter over the years and am passing on smaller gobblers. I was fortunate to kill 4 birds this year which all had spurs from 1 1/8" to a 1 5/8" , 23 1/2 # whopper. I'm inclined to believe that terrain (lack of rocky areas) has a lot to do w/ spur length and have killed 23 # gobblers w/ huge heads which were 3-4 years old with well worn 1 -1 1/8" spurs which had huge bases killed on rough rocky ridges, especially those w/ a lot of loose chert. I don't want to give the wrong impression. I look for a full fan or adult gobbler beard and usually only cull when a larger gobbler is present and killable.

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HartClemson99
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by HartClemson99 » May 28th, 2018, 7:17 pm


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Waddle Whacker
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by Waddle Whacker » May 28th, 2018, 8:05 pm

There’s no accurate way to age a turkey beyond 2 years, although I’ve never heard of a roost bone. As PCP stated, a 2 year old will have amber tips on his beard (and I’m not real sure if 100% of 2 year olds exhibit that characteristic). Beyond that, it’s a guessing game. We had a bird here in LA, banded as a jake and killed as a 2 year old, that had 1-1/4” spurs.
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hoobilly
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by hoobilly » May 29th, 2018, 7:55 pm

I was telling a older couple yesterday morning some turkey hunting stories. Showing them pictures I said, here’s another goodn. She asked if it weighted as much as the gobbler I had killed. I laughed and said no. But their all goodn’s to me.

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poorcountrypreacher
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by poorcountrypreacher » May 29th, 2018, 11:02 pm

Good article with a lot of truth in it. I had never read it before, but I know the author well and will ask him about it next time I see him.

I can't imagine a 2 year old gobbler having 1.5" spurs; must be more to the story.

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SwampDrummin
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by SwampDrummin » May 30th, 2018, 12:06 am

poorcountrypreacher wrote:
May 29th, 2018, 11:02 pm
Good article with a lot of truth in it. I had never read it before, but I know the author well and will ask him about it next time I see him.

I can't imagine a 2 year old gobbler having 1.5" spurs; must be more to the story.
I'd be interested in that update.

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Southern Sportsman
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by Southern Sportsman » May 30th, 2018, 1:01 pm

I think he said the 2 yr old had 1 1/4 spurs. Which is still amazing. I’ve never even seen a turkey killed with true 1.5” spurs.
I go stubbornly into error by myself, and reach my own fallacious conclusions using my own faulty data. ~Tom Kelly

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ccleroy
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Spur length and Turkey age

Post by ccleroy » May 30th, 2018, 7:38 pm

Pretty good study NC did that throws a kink in all the spur/age myths.

Link to the full study here

http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Hun ... gement.pdf


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BumbleFoot
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by BumbleFoot » May 30th, 2018, 7:50 pm

The only thing I’ve ever been able to tell about age from the beards or spurs of any turkey I’ve killed is he’s as old as he’s gonna get. :scratch:

coconut
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Re: Spur length and Turkey age

Post by coconut » May 30th, 2018, 8:08 pm

Turkey hunters measuring there own turkeys. Hmm. Still good information

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