Cool Photos of Fighting Wild Turkey Gobblers

Gobblers Battle for Dominance

RivalsPush DownPre-FightSmack TalkPrize FightersClamp DownBeak StabsEvenly MatchedMarathon BattleRockyWarrior

1 | Rivals

The two mature rivals pictured skipped the pre-fight circling and sizing up the opponent. Both refused to give ground and met head on, or rather, breast on. Standing on tiptoes, a body-shoving match began. One bird gained the advantage with a more aggressive push. Note how the bird on offense pushed forward, tail fan raised. The defender held steady, feet planted and tail down while enduring an obviously painful skin pinch.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

2 | Push Down

This interesting push-down tactic occurred several times during the battle. One bird moved behind the other and pinned its upper neck over the top of the other bird’s crown pushing hard in a downward motion to cause an upset.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

3 | Pre-Fight

Like the two longbeards pictured in the following sequence, typically, two dominant gobblers will approach each other in full strut, crown swollen and wattles blazing red. Wings are dropped and held slightly away from the body while the birds lean forward with heads up to appear large and intimidating. If you see a gobbler exhibiting this behavior that leaves your setup suddenly, be still, listen and watch. There’s likely another tom nearby and a good chance there’s going to be a fight.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

4 | Smack Talk

Whether hens or gobblers, most turkey fights are accompanied by turkey smack talk ⎯ aggressive purring and clucking. The head tilts back and the throat expands below the beak during the purr which is particularly loud. Rivals will often aggressively purr as they approach each other and during combat.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)


5 | Prize Fighters

This photo illustrates how the two dominant gobblers behave like prize fighters, circling and sizing up the competition before a fight. Laser-focused, each is positioning for the first offensive move.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

6 | Clamp Down

The encounter started on a field edge and proceeded into the timber. The birds were intent on using their beaks to gain control and injure. The first blow was a hard clamp down on a lower beak. Ow!

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)



7 | Beak Stabs

They pushed and shoved back into the field. The fight tactic was primarily aiming for the head and eyes with beak stabs in daggerlike fashion and little more. Many photos captured one or both birds with their third eyelids closed, apparently as a protective maneuver.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)



8 | Evenly Matched

The pair was evenly matched. They battled over 24 minutes, stabbing, pinching, pushing and shoving in and out of the timber and food plot several times. It was truly painful to watch at times. The birds actually bumped into my blind twice, totally oblivious to their surroundings. It was tempting to “count coup” and tap them on the head as they fought by! Eventually, the birds were literally eyeball to eyeball, beaks buried deeply down each other’s throat.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)



9 | Marathon Battle

The marathon battle ended when the intruder was upended with a rodeo bulldogger-style neck twist and throwdown. The loser was sent packing, minus some feathers and undoubtedly with a sore mouth and throat.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)



10 | Rocky

I nicknamed the victorious bird Rocky. He took a beating as well with some facial bruising. The gobbler’s toughness, superior stamina, fight style and body maneuvers ensured his reign was intact, at least until the next challenger came along.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)



11 | Warrior

Like the Rocky of movie fame, the gobbler’s boss status endured as the fearsome feathered warrior vanquished challengers for two more spring breeding seasons.

(Tes Randle Jolly photo)

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Editor's note: This evergreen post was first published April 12, 2018.