Spring turkey season is upon us in Michigan. Early mornings and close calls can all take a mental toll on the turkey hunter. When you finally seal the deal and bag your tom you may be very excited to get it home and feast on wild turkey breast after dressing out the bird.
However, before you do, take a few simple measurements of your wild turkey. You may find yourself in the record books, in addition to enjoying the delicious protein. Below are the steps to take the proper measurements:
- Weigh the bird. I like to use my bathroom scale to take a measurement of myself with and without the bird to get its weight. Convert the weight to a decimal. (i.e. 20 lbs and 8 oz = 20.5lbs). Bonus points if your wife walks in on you weighing a dead turkey in your bathroom.
- Measure each of the turkey’s spurs. These are found on the back of the legs. The measurement should be taken on the convex side of the spur from where it protrudes from the skin of the leg to the tip of the spur. Add both spur measurements together in inches and multiply by 10. This is the point value you receive for the spurs.
- Measure the length of the beard. If you have an atypical bird with multiple beards, add the measurements together. Beards should be measured from the center of where the beard exits the skin to the tip of the beard. Convert this measurement to a decimal in inches. Multiply this number by 2. This is your point value for the beard(s).
- Add together the weight, point value for the spurs, and the point value for the beard(s). This is your overall score for the turkey!
If you think you have a turkey worthy of the record books there are a few more things to take note of:
“All birds weighing more than 22 pounds must be weighed to the nearest ounce on scales inspected and certified as accurate for trade by the State Department of Agriculture. It is required that a weight coupon or signed document be presented for proof. An additional witness is also required. Beards measuring over 12 inches must have additional witnessing, and application must include photograph-showing measurement. Spurs measuring over 1.5 inches must have additional witnessing, and application must include photographs showing measurement” (NWTF).
The Michigan state registration form and more information on scoring your turkey can be found here.
Also, Please consider joining the National Wild Turkey Federation. The NWTF has done more than any organization in the country to ensure that wild turkeys are found in every state and are prosperous as a species so we may continue to enjoy and hunt them.