17 Cool Photos for Advanced Wild Turkey Gobbler Identification

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Beyond Wild Turkey Beard and Spur Lengths Photo Gallery

High-quality optics, effective camo, woodsmanship skills and calling play a big role in tagging a boss gobbler. Scouting helps hunters identify individual birds by a unique gobble, body size, and/or beard and spur length. The digital camera age, (think cell-phone cameras), and high-resolution trail cameras, have enabled the turkey hunting possessed to learn more details than ever about turkeys.

Check out this gallery of photos for some surefire and little-known ways to identify individual gobblers, and take your turkey hunting experience to a whole new level. Be a keen observer. Whether it’s learned before or after the shot, knowing more about the turkeys you hunt makes the memories that much sweeter!

Lines and WrinklesLines and WrinklesLines and WrinklesLines and WrinklesLines and Wrinkles

Image 1 of 17

Image 1 of 17

1 | Lines and Wrinkles

The lines and wrinkles in a strutting gobbler’s skull cap (head crown) are like our fingerprints.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Unique DetailsUnique DetailsUnique DetailsUnique DetailsUnique Details

Image 2 of 17

Image 2 of 17

2 | Unique Details

Each one is unique to that bird, and best observed in photos or after the shot.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

CarunclesCarunclesCarunclesCarunclesCaruncles

Image 3 of 17

Image 3 of 17

3 | Caruncles

Blood-engorged major caruncles are also unique to each bird. 

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

ObservationObservationObservationObservationObservation

Image 4 of 17

Image 4 of 17

4 | Observation

These details can be observed when glassing from a short distance or in photos. 

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

DifferencesDifferencesDifferencesDifferencesDifferences

Image 5 of 17

Image 5 of 17

5 | Differences

Note the differences in the skull caps as well.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Tail FanTail FanTail FanTail FanTail Fan

Image 6 of 17

Image 6 of 17

6 | Tail Fan

A typically colored 18-feather gobbler tail fan on an Eastern wild turkey. 

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Color VariationColor VariationColor VariationColor VariationColor Variation

Image 7 of 17

Image 7 of 17

7 | Color Variation

A tail fan with reddish color variation in three feathers.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Black Tail FeatherBlack Tail FeatherBlack Tail FeatherBlack Tail FeatherBlack Tail Feather

Image 8 of 17

Image 8 of 17

8 | Black Tail Feather

This bird is identifiable by the one black tail covert feather located to the right of center.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Uneven FeathersUneven FeathersUneven FeathersUneven FeathersUneven Feathers

Image 9 of 17

Image 9 of 17

9 | Uneven Feathers

Uneven length tail feathers (rectrices) on a mature gobbler due to loss; likely from fighting.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

ListenListenListenListenListen

Image 10 of 17

Image 10 of 17

10 | Listen

Be a keen listener too. Some birds have unique gobbles (pitch, duration, volume), that can help identify a particular bird.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Spur ColorSpur ColorSpur ColorSpur ColorSpur Color

Image 11 of 17

Image 11 of 17

11 | Spur Color

Spurs, straight or curved, are usually black, but may have pinkish or blonde tints. 

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Needle-HookedNeedle-HookedNeedle-HookedNeedle-HookedNeedle-Hooked

Image 12 of 17

Image 12 of 17

12 | Needle-Hooked

Needle-hooked “limbhangers,” like the pair pictured here, inhabit the dreams of every turkey hunter.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Multi-BeardMulti-BeardMulti-BeardMulti-BeardMulti-Beard

Image 13 of 17

Image 13 of 17

13 | Multi-Beard

Multi-beards are unique identifiers, but often go unnoticed until closer inspection after the shot. 

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Bushy BeardBushy BeardBushy BeardBushy BeardBushy Beard

Image 14 of 17

Image 14 of 17

14 | Bushy Beard

This 2-year-old sports a bushy long beard at an early age.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Twist or TwirlTwist or TwirlTwist or TwirlTwist or TwirlTwist or Twirl

Image 15 of 17

Image 15 of 17

15 | Twist or Twirl

Some gobbler beards exhibit a set twist or twirl. 

Note too, this trophy gobbler’s massive swollen skull cap (like Cool Whip!), overhanging its eyes. 

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Wing FeathersWing FeathersWing FeathersWing FeathersWing Feathers

Image 16 of 17

Image 16 of 17

16 | Wing Feathers

Normal barring on an Eastern wild turkey gobbler’s primary wing feathers.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

AtypicalAtypicalAtypicalAtypicalAtypical

Image 17 of 17

Image 17 of 17

17 | Atypical

Two atypical solid black primary wing feathers are easily observed when the bird struts.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

Editor's note: We hope you enjoyed this photo gallery of ways to identify individual gobblers.

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