Trophy turkey program recognizes big gobblers

PRATT – Big game and turkey hunters love to compare the animals they take. Most trophy-class animals are older and more difficult to hunt, presenting a unique challenge many hunters enjoy. Deer hunters, for example, use well-known scoring formulas to compare antlers based on size and symmetry. Turkey hunters are no different, and those who take an extraordinary specimen may qualify for a Trophy Turkey Award from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

The scoring system published by the National Wild Turkey Federation in the early 1980s is used for the KDWPT awards program.

Hunters score their own birds using the following formula, taking measurements to the nearest eighth of an inch: First, weigh your bird on accurate scales with witnesses. Next, measure the beard (or beards) from the point it protrudes from the skin to the longest bristle. Then, measure each spur from the point where it protrudes from the scaled leg skin. Now you have the necessary measurements and are ready to calculate the score.

Multiply the length of the beard (or sum of the beard lengths if there is more than one) times two. Then add the length of the spurs together and multiply the sum by 10. Add the weight to these two figures for a total score. For example, a bird that weighed 21 pounds, with a 10-inch beard and spurs that measured 1 1/4 inches each would score 66. (21 + 20 [10 x 2] + 25 [1 1/4 + 1 1/4 x 10] = 66)

The minimum score for a Trophy Turkey Award is 65. KDWPT keeps Top 20 lists in two categories: typical and nontypical. Birds with multiple beards would fall under the nontypical category.

The largest typical bird on record scored 88 4/8 and was taken in 2007 in Franklin County by Bobby Robinson, of Eupora, Miss. That bird weighed 26 4/8 pounds, had a beard that measured 17 ¼ inches and spurs that measured 1 3/8 inches each. The largest nontypical ever awarded was taken in 2008 by Rick Pritchard, Little Rock, Ark. Pritchard’s bird, also taken in Franklin County, weighed 27 pounds, and had spurs that measured 1 1/8 inches each. However, the bird sported eight beards that measured 54 5/8 inches in total. The official score was 158 6/8.

The spring turkey seasons runs through the end of May, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy an exciting spring hunt. If you’re lucky enough to take a big ole gobbler, weigh it and take some measurements. You might qualify for a Trophy Turkey Award.

A score sheet and certificate application can be downloaded at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Information and photo thanks to KDWPT.

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