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Wild Turkeys are Full of Surprises

This Turkey Tuesday is about surprises, and if you’re a turkey hunter, you know that turkeys are full of them. Sometimes with wild turkeys, there’s more than initially meets the eye – this picture is a prime example. Some people will look at this picture and immediately see a tom standing on a hen decoy, some will even see that the decoy’s head is gone, and yet others will notice that this tom has some serious hooks! This particular tom tore the head off the hen decoy, but he didn’t seem to mind and continued with his breeding behaviors. And yes, he’s definitely sporting some hooks for spurs! Those are both certainly interesting, but what’s more interesting to me is that he has an abnormality that has caused his toenail to be quite long. Wild turkeys will have various abnormalities with their feet, such as long toenails, curled toes, and curled toenails that are often traced to genetics. They also will have injuries that result in missing or short toes, and sores that resemble bumblefoot in domestic fowl where the foot is swollen. If you think about it, a wild turkey’s feet are key to their survival. So, it’s always been interesting to me that mature toms will sport abnormal feet, because such abnormalities have to create challenges for a bird that already deals with many challenges. I guess it just speaks to their resiliency. Has anyone harvested a tom that sported abnormal feet?

© Tes Randle Jolly

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