Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Wild Turkey Facts
Some turkey facts aid in tactical approaches. Others are just cool to know.

40 Wild Turkey Facts to Know: A look at some of the important facts surrounding wild turkeys.

There is a lot of facts about wild turkeys. Some are commonly realized. Others are little-known information. Follow along as we check out some of these great nuggets of knowledge.

  1. The wild turkey’s scientific name is Meleagris gallopavo.
  2. North America has five wild turkey subspecies, including the eastern (eastern U.S.), Gould’s (southwestern U.S.), Merriam’s (western U.S.), Osceola (Florida), and Rio Grande (midwestern and western U.S.).
  3. Another subspecies—the ocellated turkey—lives in Central America.
  4. Turkeys can thrive in a variety of habitats.
  5. Wild turkeys almost became extinct, with numbers below 200,000.
  6. Turkey populations were restored in the 1900s.
  7. Today, there are 6-7 million turkeys in North America.
  8. Turkeys can run up to 20 mph.
  9. Turkeys can fly up to 50 mph.
  10. Common turkey vocalizations are the cluck, cutt, gobble, purr, yelp, and much more.
  11. Hens lay up to 10-15 eggs.
  12. Hens incubate the eggs for 28 days.
  13. Poults primarily feed on insects.
  14. Male turkeys have colorful, red, white, and blue heads.
  15. Hens have less colorful grey, pink, and light blue heads.
  16. Most adult male turkeys weigh 18-25 pounds.
  17. Most adult female turkeys weigh 8-15 pounds.
  18. Adult male turkeys are black and bronze.
  19. Adult female turkeys are brown.
  20. Male turkeys have three toes, but the middle is the longest.
  21. Female turkeys have three toes all the same length.
  22. Jakes are young male birds.
  23. Jennies are young female birds.
  24. Adult turkeys eat insects, vegetation, grains, nuts, seeds, and more.
  25. Adult turkeys have an average of 5,500 feathers.
  26. Turkey beards are actually just tufts of filament.
  27. Jakes have longer middle tail fan feathers.
  28. While rare, some hens strut, and even gobble.
  29. Jakes tend to have beards that are 6 inches or less.
  30. Adult male birds generally have 7-12-inch beards.
  31. Up to 10% of hens have beards, although these are usually quite small.
  32. It is possible for turkeys to have multiple beards.
  33. Jakes tend to have only nubs for spurs.
  34. Adult male birds tend to have ¾-inch to 2-inch spurs.
  35. Hens do not have spurs, but oddities do occur.
  36. You can identify a turkeys gender by its droppings. Male dropping are J-shaped. Female droppings are spiral-shaped.
  37. Wild turkey courtship occurs in spring.
  38. In nature, hens go to the gobbling toms.
  39. Hunters try to reverse nature by calling gobblers to them (mimicking the hen).
  40. While fall hunting was once most popular, most modern turkey hunting takes place in spring.
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