How to Score Your Wild Turkey

Follow these four steps to score your wild turkey this spring, and find out the lengths of the longest spurs and beards on record.

How to Score Your Wild Turkey

Photo: The Confluence Group (Federal Premium/Instagram)

Wild turkey hunters are sometimes told if you can hang a wild turkey by his spurs, you know you’ve done something. Of course how long the spurs need to be depends on the size of the branch. 

The longest turkey spurs on record are 2.5625 inches, and they belonged to an Eastern harvested in North Carolina by Willard Dills in 2017. If you happen to take a Tom with spurs over 2.25 inches, that’ll get you into the National Wild Turkey Federation's (NWTF) current Top 10 list for longest spurs on record.

The NWTF maintains the Wild Turkey Records database which includes rankings in the following groups: Total Score, Beard Length, Spur Length and Weight. There’s also an interactive map on the NWTF’s website that filters data entered by wild-turkey hunters who have registered their birds. So, for instance, someone can use the mapping tool to get the top 20 counties where the largest wild turkeys on record were harvested. The county that’s currently in the No. 1 spot is Lyon County, Kentucky, thanks to hunter David Cody Guess and his world record 37.61 pound bird.

If you search the Top 20 Counties with the most record birds harvested, you’ll see Florida and Nebraska lead the way. 

Top 20 Counties With Most Registered Wild Turkeys

4 Steps to Score Your Wild Turkey

If you're lucky enough to bag a big turkey Tom this spring, and think you may have a record holder, the four steps to score the bird are listed below. These steps include the proper way to measure beards and spurs. 

If you don't bag a record-breaking bird this spring, there's always the notoriety of a Facebook or Instagram post. Each year firearm, ammo and hunting brands launch social campaigns built around posting photos and measurements from your turkey hunt. Federal Ammunition, the company behind premium loads like Grand Slam and HEAVYWEIGHT TSS, has made it easy to measure and post spur lengths. There is a small tape measure printed on the hull, in 1/8-inch increments, along with the hashtag "spurtape."   

Federal Ammunition, the company behind premium loads like Grand Slam and HEAVYWEIGHT TSS, has made it easy to measure and post spur lengths. There is a small tape measure printed on the hull, in 1/8-inch increments, along with the hashtag "spurtape." Photo: Alan Clemons
Federal Ammunition, the company behind premium loads like Grand Slam and HEAVYWEIGHT TSS, has made it easy to measure and post spur lengths. There is a small tape measure printed on the hull, in 1/8-inch increments, along with the hashtag "spurtape." Photo: Alan Clemons

Step 1:

Weigh your bird in pounds and ounces and convert ounces to decimal form.

Step 2:

Measure each spur. Spurs must be measured along the outside center, from the point at which the spur protrudes from the scaled leg skin to the tip of the spur. Add both spur measurements and multiply the combined length of the spurs by 10. This is the number of points you receive for the turkey’s spurs.

Step 3:

Measure the beard length (a beard must be measured from the center point of the protrusion of the skin to the tip) and convert it to decimal form. Next, multiply the beard length figure by 2; this is the number of points you receive for the beard length. If you have an atypical bird (multiple beards), measure each beard, convert them to a decimal number, then add those figures together and multiply by two. This is the number of points you receive for your turkey’s beards.

Step 4:

Add together the weight, the points for spurs and points for beard(s): This is the score you receive for your turkey. You can also tally your score by using the Scoring Calculator.

NOTE: For scoring your bird for the NWTF records, all measurements are taken in 1/16-inch increments and converted to decimal form. A current NWTF member or another licensed hunter from the state where the bird was harvested must verify all measurements. A conversion chart is provided by the NWTF here

At a Glance: Wild Turkey Record Holders

Best Overall Hunter: Justin Lucas; Total Score: 203.9375; Harvested: March 22, 2014 in Candler, Georgia;  Method: Firearm; Species: Eastern

Longest Beard Hunter: Cody May;  Longest Beard: 22.5000;  Harvested: April 6, 2007 in Bowie, Texas;  Method: Firearm;  Species: Eastern

Longest Spur Hunter: Willard Dills;  Longest Spur: 2.5625;  Harvested: April 25, 2017 in North Carolina;  Method: Firearm;  Species: Eastern 

Heaviest (Weight) Hunter: David Cody Guess;  Weight: 37.6100;  Harvested: April 21, 2015 in Lyon, Kentucky;  Method: Firearm;  Species: Eastern



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