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Q:
Do both male and female turkeys spreed out there tail feathers when walking around? The reason I'm asking is that last spring in NJ I had a monster turkey walk by while hunting but I wasn't sure if it was a male or female. The bird did have its tail feathers open. So not being sure it was a male, I shot a smaller bird right behind it which I was positive of being a male bird.

from remington20 on 03.16.10

Answers (4)

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from Ishi wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Kudos for identifying your target.

Fanning the tail is not an appropriate way to identify a hen from gobbler. Look for the beard, spurs, red/white/blue head and thundering gobble.

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from charlie elk wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

To the untrained eye of a beginner many do have trouble identifying male and female turkeys in the field. When I conducted turkey clinics this was the most asked question.
An aggressive hen could well puff their feathers out possibly looking like a half strut.
The best way to identify a gobbler is the beard, see the beard before you shoot. Very few hens have beards and in all states I am familiar with a bearded hen is legal. In many states only a bearded turkey is legal.
Usually if there is no visible beard on a male turkey it is a very small jake many hunters like to see the long beards to assure they are shooting an adult turkey.
Good Hunting.
later,
charlie

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from NY Survivor wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

I have a concern about your question. It shouldn't really matter if you weren't sure because of the turkey displaying. The coloring of a male and female are different. You should be looking at the coloring to determine sex, not the tail feathers.

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from bigbuck96 wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

A male tukey is called a gobbler. They attract hens by strutting. Strutting is when a gobbler goes to an open area where hens can see him and he fluffs out his tail feathers and puffs out his chest to appear larger. A female turkey is called a hen. They do not spread their feathers out. Look at pictured of gobblers strutting and you'll be able to tell if that was what you were seeing. Also, it may have been a small gobbler that was strutting and appeared to be alot larger than it really is because it was strutting. Gobblers are larger than hens.

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from charlie elk wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

To the untrained eye of a beginner many do have trouble identifying male and female turkeys in the field. When I conducted turkey clinics this was the most asked question.
An aggressive hen could well puff their feathers out possibly looking like a half strut.
The best way to identify a gobbler is the beard, see the beard before you shoot. Very few hens have beards and in all states I am familiar with a bearded hen is legal. In many states only a bearded turkey is legal.
Usually if there is no visible beard on a male turkey it is a very small jake many hunters like to see the long beards to assure they are shooting an adult turkey.
Good Hunting.
later,
charlie

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigbuck96 wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

A male tukey is called a gobbler. They attract hens by strutting. Strutting is when a gobbler goes to an open area where hens can see him and he fluffs out his tail feathers and puffs out his chest to appear larger. A female turkey is called a hen. They do not spread their feathers out. Look at pictured of gobblers strutting and you'll be able to tell if that was what you were seeing. Also, it may have been a small gobbler that was strutting and appeared to be alot larger than it really is because it was strutting. Gobblers are larger than hens.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NY Survivor wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

I have a concern about your question. It shouldn't really matter if you weren't sure because of the turkey displaying. The coloring of a male and female are different. You should be looking at the coloring to determine sex, not the tail feathers.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ishi wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Kudos for identifying your target.

Fanning the tail is not an appropriate way to identify a hen from gobbler. Look for the beard, spurs, red/white/blue head and thundering gobble.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post an Answer (200 characters or less)