By Bob Humphrey
Did you know you could score your turkey and possibly enter it into the record books?
The National Wild Turkey Federation maintains official records of wild turkeys taken by fair chase methods anywhere in the world. Rather than simply using weight, their system consists of a combination of three measurements: live weight, beard length and spur length. This provides a more equitable and appropriate score, as older “trophy” birds may weigh less, but will have the longest spurs.
The measurements are recorded as follows:
* Weight — Turkeys should be weighed to the nearest ounce on a certified scale. While live weight is not a requirement, it is recommended as it will yield a higher score.
* Beard Length — The beard is measured from the center point where it protrudes from the skin to the end of the longest bristle. Bristle length tends to be fairly uniform on an individual beard but you may have one or two that are noticeably longer. Pay particular attention for these as they will boost your score.
* Spur Length — Spur length is measured along its outside edge, from the point where it protrudes from the scaled leg skin to the tip of the spur. Both of the latter two measurements are made to the nearest 1/16 inch.
These measurements are converted to decimals, then combined using the following formula to derive a total score. Score = weight + (2 x beard length) + (10 x right spur length) + (10 x left spurt length). Example: 21.4 pounds + (10.5 x 2) + (10 x 1.25) + (10 x 1.25 ) = 67.4.
In addition to the NWTF, many local, state and regional trophy recognition groups use this same system. And even if you never enter your turkey, it’s nice to have some idea of where it stacks up on a relative scale.