May 06, 2013
Turkey Hunting: What's Your Rule for Shooting Jakes?
By Phil Bourjaily
Turkey season may be over or winding down in some places, but up here in the north our snow has finally melted—most of it—and we’re hunting.
In fact, it’s still too early in the season for me to think about shooting a jake like the bird above, which I shot two years ago. That was a last-day-of the-season-in-the-rain bird, and I was delighted when it showed up about noon.
Some people consider jakes the same as gobblers, that is, legal, shootable turkeys. Others would never shoot a jake, and some few (hunters in Mississippi for instance) aren’t allowed to shoot them. Then there are some that won’t shoot jakes unless they come in strutting and gobbling, in which case they are treated just like a mature tom. I kind of like that approach.
My personal rule on jakes is, they get a pass from me until the last day. Turkey meat tastes better than turkey tag, and I am shooting when the clock winds down on the season. I've shot a couple of jakes during spring hunts. Once I did miss a jake, then killed a big gobbler later that morning, so I can see why holding off until the very end can be a good idea.
That’s my jake rule. Now it’s time for an informal survey: what’s your jake rule?