Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Turkey Hunting: What's Your Rule for Shooting Jakes?

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Gun Nuts
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

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?

Comments (34)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Ncarl wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Depends where Im hunting. I understand that a trophy in some places isnt a trophy in others. For example if Im hunting public land and its leagal it dies. If Im hunting lightly pressured private land and I feel like my chances of getting a tom are good I will hold out. Also depends on how many tags I have in my pocket.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ga hunter wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

We can get 3 turkeys here in GA, so I usually shoot whatever (legal) turkey walks in front of me first. After that I'll usually only go for long beards unless it's close to the end of the season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Northeastsportsman wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I would shoot a jake even if it was opening morning of the season. Here in Vermont we are given two turkey tags for the spring turkey season (May 1-31). On the opening morning of turkey season this year I shot a 13.65 lbs jake with a 4.25 inch beard. I'm holding off for a tom now because there is still 23 days of the season left. I think jakes are just as fun to hunt as toms and wouldn't hesitate to fill my tag with a jake on opening morning even if there were larger toms around.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'll let the jakes pass -- and hopefully meet them again when they're older!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Same as yours Phil, I will not shoot a jake unless it is the last day of the season and I have a tag left to burn, but at all other times I let them walk to become longbeards next year. Has paid off so far, but here in VA we are approaching the end of season and I have one last pesky tag that might have to be filled by a jake at this rate!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

READ MY LIPS; I DON'T SHOOT JAKES MAKES MORE TURKEYS FOR NEXT YEAR

-4 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I used to be of the mind that, if it was legal, it was dead. That's when I primarily hunted public land, and seeing any turkey (in season) was a thrill. Getting an arrow or a load of shot into one was pretty challenging.

Now I'm down here in Texas, and I've got turkeys all over the place. Six of them were pecking along my fence this morning. Our season ended a little while back, but even then, I could go out most mornings and, if I wanted, whack a jake. I even had one goofy tom that was so sexed up he paid no attention as I stood beside the truck with the bow at full draw.

But I didn't call him in, so I let him walk. Same for the jakes. If I set up with the decoy and calls and bring a bird in range, I'll probably take the shot. But assassinating them in the barn pasture just doesn't feel the same. I've still got meat in the freezer from the fall season, so maybe that's part of this new point of view.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wiege wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

In WI, we only get one week to shoot one 'bearded' turkey. A guy got a bearded hen 5 years back. Our group for the most part follows with Phil here - depends on how much time left you have to hunt. I think the jakes are the most entertaining to watch, they try to gobble, strut and fight all the while not sure what they are doing.
The bottom line is get the bird the makes you happy. If you are sitting in the rain/snow/wind a jake could be the right bird. Right bird for me this year was a 34 pounds, razor sharp 1-1/4" spurs, 10-5/8" beard. I get a lot of noise since I didn't get it weighed on a certified scale. It didn't matter, I'm in it for fun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bscrandall wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'm a relatively new turkey hunter, so if it is legal, I'm shootin' it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I have shot a couple jakes that came in strutting and gobbling like an old bird and all I could see was the head.
But normally I hold out for a mature bird. Jakes don't have the spurs I prefer for hatbands. Last week I took a gobbler with 1 1/8 inch spurs and he only weighed 18 pounds. He was a dominate bird so maybe lost weight fighting and chasing hens. Next week will attempt to fill my other tag.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I haven't had the good fortune to hunt turkeys yet but I expect just like any other wild fowl, bagging a young bird almost always means better eating. In fact, if you shoot anything but a "jake" sage grouse, you just as well leave it for the coyotes. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration ... but just a bit.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Mine pretty much matches yours Phil, shame on him if he gives me a shot toward the end of the season if I haven't done any good.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from canvasbackhunter wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I goofed this year, I shot a jake the first 3 hours of opening day, and here in indiana we can only shoot one bird. The next week, same property, four big toms each 10in or bigger, and two more that keep their distance, came to my cousin who was ready with his bow. I guess there is always next year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackhawkbill wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Jakes are ok on the last day, but I like the toms for action. That was a good picture of you, who took it and with what equipment. Did you use a fill in flash?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

blackhawkbill -- Thanks! I stuck my Nikon point and shoot on a fencepost and set the timer, then jumped in front of the lens and put the turkey on my knee. It took quite a few jumps to get the shot.
It was a rainy, cloudy day so I didn't need a fill flash to light my face under the brim of my hat.
In the absence of a handy fencepost, gorillapods are essential for taking pictures of yourself in the field.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

For me turkey hunting is so much fun that I almost felt let down after taking the two I have shot. You only get one in MN and you have to draw one for the first four seasons. So I would hold out, but the last day, if a jake came in I would shoot for sure.
I get to go this weekend and it's opening fishing so I am looking forward to a little cast and blast. Good hunting to all of you!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

"They shoot 'Jakes', don't they?"
I do, but not bearded hens. They may still be reproductive. I shot one several years back and when dressing it found developing eggs inside. Being able to take 4 Rio Grand turkeys annually (fall & spring seasons combined) allows lots of opportunity for taking mature gobblers along with jakes. The drought caused very low survival for the 2011 spring-summer poults in most of Texas and Oklahoma, so 2-year toms are scarce here this spring, and turkey numbers are down considerbly. The three of us that hunt together have killed 2 three-year-olds and 2 jakes. Our season ends Sunday so maybe there will be another one or two taken. They were still gobbling last weekend.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

All of my turkey hunting is done on public land with a limited amount of time to hunt. I don't know of anyone that hunts the same area who hesitates for one second to pull down on a big jake. If you do let one pass then the odds of going home empty-handed shoot up astronomically; given that the average success rate on the wildlife area in question runs anywhere from a low of about 10-percent to a high of 30, depending on the year. To me, any legal wild turkey is a trophy to be proud of, and I've shot plenty of long-spurred, big-bearded toms along with a good many jakes. There's only so much room on the walls for fans and beards anyway, and a 15 or 16 pound jake is a lot less chewy than a 20-pound gobbler.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JCB wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I pass on the jakes. I have shot enough turkeys in my life that I feel that I should let them go to let them grow. The hunt is what I enjoy and bringing them in close. If it was just for the meat I would take the money spent on the turkey tag and buy a turkey at the grocery store. They even come dressed and plucked.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not much for trophies. If I get a good opportunity for a clean killing shot, I take it whether its a young bird or old.
My only personal rule is shoot no hens in the fall season when they are legal.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

If you don't ever shoot jakes you should always have longbeards. Let them turn into gobbling and strutting two year olds. Phil, I ask what is the difference in shooting a jake on the first day of season and the last day of season? It's a dead jake either way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'm in agreement with JCB on this one, Phil. I let the jakes walk away. Having taken numerous birds over the years, my challenge now comes from getting the birds in close and then trying to get an arrow into them. This is attempted by not using a blind, just using the available cover. Introducing a new hunter to the sport of hunting turkeys is a step or two above that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Just a thought, and worth no more than you paid to read it...

But if someone shoots a jake, that means they left a tom for the guys who want to trophy hunt. Unless your turkey population is in trouble, what difference does it make?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from rfleer87 wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Let the jakes pass unless you have no other choice.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from makersman wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Tastes the same as a Tom!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from andyp311 wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

My first turkey was a jake, and I was proud of him. I've only killed toms since then, but that's because those were the turkeys that came in. If another jake came in would I take him? Definitely.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schwings wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Shot a jake opening morning. Proud of it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

We hunt several state's for turkey. If we tap out early, we go out and call for a kid or a pal....just to extend the season.
When I travel...I hold out for a Tom, but on the last day hunting in that state....any well worked Tom will do.
At home...it depends on how many days in the season I have to hunt. Once again..."if" it looks like a Jake or nothing, I'll fill my tag with a Jake.
I've shot enough birds over the years that I'd prefer to call in a Big Tom for one of the kid's or grandkids and take my chances in the end settling for a Jake (only if he was a worthy opponent and the area can handle it) on my final day.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Good thoughts Phil ! READ MY LIPS NO NEW TAXES either deadeyedick ........
Jakes are worthy adversaries and should not be taken lightly ! No guarantee that a jake will live to be the big tom and you only need one male to breed several hens :)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WyoTom wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Which breeds more hens? A jake or a mature gobbler? If it's the latter, then the turkey population's better off when we take jakes. They eat better, too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Springer, both you and Wyo make very good points.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 49 weeks 16 hours ago

In the fall, I try to take a hen. Their wing bones may really nice calls. ...unless a B&C grade tom comes by first! LOL!

My "rule" on shooting jakes: "Hold on the spot on the neck where the feathers stop and the wattles start."

The spring limit here is three (3) toms. First male sticks his head out in range, dies. Then I start looking for "Big Brother"!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 49 weeks 1 hour ago

I am an optimist. My rule is the same as yours, Phil. Good post.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from miller73 wrote 48 weeks 6 days ago

id let the jakes pass. here in minnesota we have a 5 day season but we have about 7 seasons. i went 3rd season and saw some jakes and decided to put a stalm on them just in case there was a longbeard with them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from HogBlog wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Just a thought, and worth no more than you paid to read it...

But if someone shoots a jake, that means they left a tom for the guys who want to trophy hunt. Unless your turkey population is in trouble, what difference does it make?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bscrandall wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'm a relatively new turkey hunter, so if it is legal, I'm shootin' it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'll let the jakes pass -- and hopefully meet them again when they're older!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wiege wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

In WI, we only get one week to shoot one 'bearded' turkey. A guy got a bearded hen 5 years back. Our group for the most part follows with Phil here - depends on how much time left you have to hunt. I think the jakes are the most entertaining to watch, they try to gobble, strut and fight all the while not sure what they are doing.
The bottom line is get the bird the makes you happy. If you are sitting in the rain/snow/wind a jake could be the right bird. Right bird for me this year was a 34 pounds, razor sharp 1-1/4" spurs, 10-5/8" beard. I get a lot of noise since I didn't get it weighed on a certified scale. It didn't matter, I'm in it for fun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I have shot a couple jakes that came in strutting and gobbling like an old bird and all I could see was the head.
But normally I hold out for a mature bird. Jakes don't have the spurs I prefer for hatbands. Last week I took a gobbler with 1 1/8 inch spurs and he only weighed 18 pounds. He was a dominate bird so maybe lost weight fighting and chasing hens. Next week will attempt to fill my other tag.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JCB wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I pass on the jakes. I have shot enough turkeys in my life that I feel that I should let them go to let them grow. The hunt is what I enjoy and bringing them in close. If it was just for the meat I would take the money spent on the turkey tag and buy a turkey at the grocery store. They even come dressed and plucked.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from makersman wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Tastes the same as a Tom!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

We hunt several state's for turkey. If we tap out early, we go out and call for a kid or a pal....just to extend the season.
When I travel...I hold out for a Tom, but on the last day hunting in that state....any well worked Tom will do.
At home...it depends on how many days in the season I have to hunt. Once again..."if" it looks like a Jake or nothing, I'll fill my tag with a Jake.
I've shot enough birds over the years that I'd prefer to call in a Big Tom for one of the kid's or grandkids and take my chances in the end settling for a Jake (only if he was a worthy opponent and the area can handle it) on my final day.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Good thoughts Phil ! READ MY LIPS NO NEW TAXES either deadeyedick ........
Jakes are worthy adversaries and should not be taken lightly ! No guarantee that a jake will live to be the big tom and you only need one male to breed several hens :)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WyoTom wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Which breeds more hens? A jake or a mature gobbler? If it's the latter, then the turkey population's better off when we take jakes. They eat better, too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Depends where Im hunting. I understand that a trophy in some places isnt a trophy in others. For example if Im hunting public land and its leagal it dies. If Im hunting lightly pressured private land and I feel like my chances of getting a tom are good I will hold out. Also depends on how many tags I have in my pocket.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ga hunter wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

We can get 3 turkeys here in GA, so I usually shoot whatever (legal) turkey walks in front of me first. After that I'll usually only go for long beards unless it's close to the end of the season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Northeastsportsman wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I would shoot a jake even if it was opening morning of the season. Here in Vermont we are given two turkey tags for the spring turkey season (May 1-31). On the opening morning of turkey season this year I shot a 13.65 lbs jake with a 4.25 inch beard. I'm holding off for a tom now because there is still 23 days of the season left. I think jakes are just as fun to hunt as toms and wouldn't hesitate to fill my tag with a jake on opening morning even if there were larger toms around.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Same as yours Phil, I will not shoot a jake unless it is the last day of the season and I have a tag left to burn, but at all other times I let them walk to become longbeards next year. Has paid off so far, but here in VA we are approaching the end of season and I have one last pesky tag that might have to be filled by a jake at this rate!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I used to be of the mind that, if it was legal, it was dead. That's when I primarily hunted public land, and seeing any turkey (in season) was a thrill. Getting an arrow or a load of shot into one was pretty challenging.

Now I'm down here in Texas, and I've got turkeys all over the place. Six of them were pecking along my fence this morning. Our season ended a little while back, but even then, I could go out most mornings and, if I wanted, whack a jake. I even had one goofy tom that was so sexed up he paid no attention as I stood beside the truck with the bow at full draw.

But I didn't call him in, so I let him walk. Same for the jakes. If I set up with the decoy and calls and bring a bird in range, I'll probably take the shot. But assassinating them in the barn pasture just doesn't feel the same. I've still got meat in the freezer from the fall season, so maybe that's part of this new point of view.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I haven't had the good fortune to hunt turkeys yet but I expect just like any other wild fowl, bagging a young bird almost always means better eating. In fact, if you shoot anything but a "jake" sage grouse, you just as well leave it for the coyotes. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration ... but just a bit.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Mine pretty much matches yours Phil, shame on him if he gives me a shot toward the end of the season if I haven't done any good.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from canvasbackhunter wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I goofed this year, I shot a jake the first 3 hours of opening day, and here in indiana we can only shoot one bird. The next week, same property, four big toms each 10in or bigger, and two more that keep their distance, came to my cousin who was ready with his bow. I guess there is always next year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackhawkbill wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Jakes are ok on the last day, but I like the toms for action. That was a good picture of you, who took it and with what equipment. Did you use a fill in flash?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

blackhawkbill -- Thanks! I stuck my Nikon point and shoot on a fencepost and set the timer, then jumped in front of the lens and put the turkey on my knee. It took quite a few jumps to get the shot.
It was a rainy, cloudy day so I didn't need a fill flash to light my face under the brim of my hat.
In the absence of a handy fencepost, gorillapods are essential for taking pictures of yourself in the field.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

For me turkey hunting is so much fun that I almost felt let down after taking the two I have shot. You only get one in MN and you have to draw one for the first four seasons. So I would hold out, but the last day, if a jake came in I would shoot for sure.
I get to go this weekend and it's opening fishing so I am looking forward to a little cast and blast. Good hunting to all of you!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

"They shoot 'Jakes', don't they?"
I do, but not bearded hens. They may still be reproductive. I shot one several years back and when dressing it found developing eggs inside. Being able to take 4 Rio Grand turkeys annually (fall & spring seasons combined) allows lots of opportunity for taking mature gobblers along with jakes. The drought caused very low survival for the 2011 spring-summer poults in most of Texas and Oklahoma, so 2-year toms are scarce here this spring, and turkey numbers are down considerbly. The three of us that hunt together have killed 2 three-year-olds and 2 jakes. Our season ends Sunday so maybe there will be another one or two taken. They were still gobbling last weekend.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

All of my turkey hunting is done on public land with a limited amount of time to hunt. I don't know of anyone that hunts the same area who hesitates for one second to pull down on a big jake. If you do let one pass then the odds of going home empty-handed shoot up astronomically; given that the average success rate on the wildlife area in question runs anywhere from a low of about 10-percent to a high of 30, depending on the year. To me, any legal wild turkey is a trophy to be proud of, and I've shot plenty of long-spurred, big-bearded toms along with a good many jakes. There's only so much room on the walls for fans and beards anyway, and a 15 or 16 pound jake is a lot less chewy than a 20-pound gobbler.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not much for trophies. If I get a good opportunity for a clean killing shot, I take it whether its a young bird or old.
My only personal rule is shoot no hens in the fall season when they are legal.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

If you don't ever shoot jakes you should always have longbeards. Let them turn into gobbling and strutting two year olds. Phil, I ask what is the difference in shooting a jake on the first day of season and the last day of season? It's a dead jake either way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

I'm in agreement with JCB on this one, Phil. I let the jakes walk away. Having taken numerous birds over the years, my challenge now comes from getting the birds in close and then trying to get an arrow into them. This is attempted by not using a blind, just using the available cover. Introducing a new hunter to the sport of hunting turkeys is a step or two above that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from andyp311 wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

My first turkey was a jake, and I was proud of him. I've only killed toms since then, but that's because those were the turkeys that came in. If another jake came in would I take him? Definitely.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schwings wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Shot a jake opening morning. Proud of it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 49 weeks 1 day ago

Springer, both you and Wyo make very good points.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 49 weeks 16 hours ago

In the fall, I try to take a hen. Their wing bones may really nice calls. ...unless a B&C grade tom comes by first! LOL!

My "rule" on shooting jakes: "Hold on the spot on the neck where the feathers stop and the wattles start."

The spring limit here is three (3) toms. First male sticks his head out in range, dies. Then I start looking for "Big Brother"!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 49 weeks 1 hour ago

I am an optimist. My rule is the same as yours, Phil. Good post.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from miller73 wrote 48 weeks 6 days ago

id let the jakes pass. here in minnesota we have a 5 day season but we have about 7 seasons. i went 3rd season and saw some jakes and decided to put a stalm on them just in case there was a longbeard with them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rfleer87 wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

Let the jakes pass unless you have no other choice.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 49 weeks 2 days ago

READ MY LIPS; I DON'T SHOOT JAKES MAKES MORE TURKEYS FOR NEXT YEAR

-4 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment