At the Ranch: The Difference Between a Jake and a Tom

One key thing you need to know about turkey hunting is how to differ a Jake from a tom. Jakes and Toms are both male birds, but Jakes are one-year old turkeys, while Toms are typically at least two years old. It’s important to know the difference, as in some states, you can’t even shoot jakes legally. There are a few key identifiers to help you differ the two. The first thing you can look at is their tail fan. A Tom’s tail fan is completely full, while on a Jake’s tail fan, the middle feathers will be longer. Another way to differ the two is by looking at their beards. A Tom, AKA a “Longbeard” has a much longer beard than a Jake. A Jake’s will typically be short and stubby, while a Tom’s will be anywhere from 7 inches to a foot. Also, both have spurs on their legs. However, a Tom will usually have spurs that are at least an inch long, while Jake’s will be just a stub. Lastly, when they gobble, a Tom has a longer and deeper gobble than a Jake. It’s important for you to know these differences!

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