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Scoring your Turkey

A scale, calculator and tape measure are all you need to see if your gobbler is a winner

By Russell A. Graves

A scale, calculator and tape measure are all you need to see if your gobbler is a winner.

For as long as anyone can remember, Texas deer hunters have judged their trophies against one another by touting a buck’s Boone & Crockett score. Did you know that turkey hunters can also get in on the game of keeping harvest records and do a little bragging along the way? That’s right. With a few simple measurements, you can objectively evaluate a turkey and assign it a “score” by using a set of systematic measurements. Bragging rights for turkeys? You bet!

Correct gear

The tools needed for scoring a turkey are simple: a spring scale capable of weighing a hanging object; a flexible, 1/4-inch-wide tape measure for measuring the spur and beard length, and a calculator for completing all of the calculations. If you have Internet access, you can skip the calculations by logging on to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Web site at <www.nwtf.org> and use their online scoring calculator.

First step

To get started, you’ll need to weigh your turkey and convert the ounces to decimal form. The conversion formula is pretty simple. All you need to do is divide the ounces by 16. For example, if your turkey weighs 22 pounds and 5 ounces, then to convert the five ounces to decimal form, you’ll divide 5 by 16, which gives you .3125. Then combine the decimal-ounce equivalent with the number of pounds. In this case, we’ll have the weight of 22.3125 pounds.

Spurs

The next step is to measure the spurs and convert the fractional inch measurement to decimal form and measure to the nearest 1/16th-inch without reduction. In decimal form, 1/16-inch is equivalent to .0625. Using these numbers as a base, you can easily figure out the decimal equivalent to fractions. For example, to convert 3/16-inch, just multiply three times .0625.

Measure the spurs from where they exit the leg and over the outside edge of the spur. Once the spurs are measured, add the length of both spurs together and multiply by 10. For example, suppose the right spur measures 2-6/16 inches and the left spur measures 2-1/16 inches. The math will look like this:

2.3759 (right spur) + 2.0625 (left spur) = 4.4384 (total length of both spurs) 4.4384 X 10 = 44.384 (spur score)

Don’t forget the beard

The last thing to measure on the turkey is the beard. Starting where the beard protrudes from the breast, measure along the center of the beard to the longest tip. Like on the spurs, convert the fractional inch to decimal form. Once you have the beard measurement, multiply the length by two.

6.25 inch beard X 2 = 12.50 on the beard score.

Exceptions

Occasionally, a turkey will grow multiple beards and spurs. In that case, each extra beard and spur gets measured and added to the total score just like the typical beards and spurs. Birds with multiple beards and spurs are listed by the National Wild Turkey Federation as atypical.

Adding it all up

The last step in finalizing your turkey’s score is to add up the weight, spur score and beard score. In this case:

22.3125 weight score

+ 44.384 spur score

+ 12.50 beard score

= 79.1965 total score

In Texas, the state records listed with the National Wild Turkey Federation show that the top typical Eastern wild turkey scores a tad over 80 points while the biggest Rio Grande turkey scores just over 88. Of course, like deer, the trophy is in the eye of the beholder. So head afield … bragging rights await you.

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