Bearded Ladies

So why do some hens get shot in spring?

Here's where it gets tricky. It's legal in many states. At least if they're bearded. Sure enough, some hens have beards, often thin, with a kink in the middle, though they can go eight inches or so. Consider recent kill statistics for two states this past spring season: one in America's turkey-hunting heartland and another on the northern edge of turkey habitat.

Missouri, long a destination to tag a big longbeard, posted 41,829 turkeys this past spring. 32,028 were adult gobblers, and 9,208 were jakes. That's all good. What caught my attention were how many bearded hens were registered: 593 female turkeys. Think Missouri is alone? New Hampshire registered 4,056 turkeys: 2,609 adult gobblers, 1,435 jakes and yes, a dozen bearded hens.

Bearded hens, all hens in fact, chance at raising a brood of poults in the spring--but not if you shoot that turkey.

What do you Strut Zoners think? Should shooting bearded (possibly breeding or nesting) hens be legal in the spring? Why? Why not? Have you ever shot a bearded spring hen? You autumn turkey hunters who take legal either-sex birds in the fall, do you think it's okay in the spring? Should a bearded spring hen be regarded as a trophy?