TURKEY HUNTING: The Differences Between a Jake and a Tom

One of the most important things you need to know about turkey hunting is how to differentiate a Jake from a tom.

While Jakes and Toms are both male birds, their ages separate the two. Jakes are one-year-old turkeys and Toms are at least two years old.

It’s important to know the difference, as in some states, you can’t shoot Jakes legally. Fortunately, there are a few key identifiers to help you differentiate the two. The first thing you can look at is their tail fan.

While a Tom’s tail fan is completely full, the middle fingers on a Jake’s tail fan will be longer.

Another way to differentiate the two is by their beards which are actually a cluster of wiry black feathers that grow from the center of their chest. A Tom, sometimes referred to as a “Longbeard”, has a much longer beard than a Jake. A Jake’s beard is short and stubby and a Tom’s can be anywhere from 7 inches to a foot.

The spurs on their legs also hold key indicators to tell them apart. A Tom has spurs that are at least an inch long, while a Jake’s will be just a stub.

Lastly, when they gobble, a Tom has a much longer and deeper gobble than a Jake.

It’s important for you to know these differences before you head out turkey hunting!

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