Way to go man! Some of you tagged out. You’re basking in the glory of the spring hunt. Grilling turkey and telling stories. You’ve moved on to bass fishing, and shooting your bow for fall. All that.
Down south, your season might be over, or getting pretty close. Up north, some states are just commencing (New York and Vermont regular seasons started today, May 1, 2010; Maine and New Hampshire begin May 3).
Meanwhile maybe a bud is still carrying a tag where seasons are winding down. They’ve got a rabid howler monkey on their backs. They just can’t seem to close the deal on a longbeard this season. A lot of the longbeards they hunted early might just be on somebody else’s grill.They’ve got a tag. Question is: Should they shoot the next jake in range?
Would you in that situation? Biologists around the country are likely to tell you there’s no reason not to take a shortbeard. They’re legal in most states, good eating, and they often even gobble well, especially late in the season as pecking order continues to shift. So what’s the shame in dumping a jake?
Well, for one, we’re all primed to hunt and tag two-year-old longbeards or older. We’re programmed. The articles we read, the camp conversations, outdoor TV, and so on, all suggest you’re lame if you put the smackdown on a shortbeard. Jakes are for young hunters and newbies.
Still others say: “You can’t eat the beard.” These are the guys who are happy with a little ol’ spikehorn in deer camp. They’re just content to be in camp, and have some venison for the freezer. And sometimes they even kill a big buck. Or longbeard.
It’s late in the spring turkey season. Maybe the last day. Do you pull the trigger on a jake in range (check regs; some isolated states have beard length restrictions), or do you let that bird walk into adulthood, and eat that tag? Do you choose to draw an arrow on a shortbeard, adding to the hunting challenge, and maybe filling that tag? Tempted? You can’t grill ego.
(NWTF Media Photo)
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Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.