To amplify on Dave Hurteau’s “Don’t Tell Me I Should Have Passed This Jake” post let me add this: one of the very few things I dislike about turkey hunting is the phrase “just a 2-year-old.” People say it dismissively as if somehow they had a lesser hunt than if than if they had shot a 3 or 4 year old “toad” (I hate that term). Could we please stop trying to turn turkey hunting into deer hunting?

The quality of a trophy turkey should be based entirely on the quality of the hunt, not on the length of beard or spurs. Last year, for instance, I shot a genuine trophy bird. It had the widest, longest beard of any turkey I have ever killed along with some very sharp spurs. There wasn’t much to the hunt itself, however. I was walking and calling and I heard a faint gobble. I snuck to a field edge where I spotted the tom 200 yards away and walking my direction. I sat at the edge of the field and called some more. The turkey didn’t react at all but it never stopped walking my way, either, so I put my calls on the ground, shouldered my gun and let him walk into range.

This year I joined my friend Travis for our annual hunt on his birthday at his place. We had come close in the past but had never shot a turkey together until this year. We hit the woods at 11:00 and were walking along a ridgeline when we made a turkey sound off in a creek bottom. We slipped as far down the ridge above it as we dared, set up and were treated to 25 minutes of hard gobbling until the bird figured out how to cross a small creek, then came unseen up a gully. It announced its presence by gobbling one last time, loud and close enough to make me jump, then popped into view in full strut 30 yards away. It went behind a tree, came out of strut and peered around the trunk. I shot it* at 11:45.

Yes, it was your basic young gobbler, 21 ½ pounds, maybe 8-inch beard, short, round spurs. I could care less. I had a great hunt with a friend and my heart pounded when the turkey got close even though it turned out to be “just a 2-year-old.” It’s fun to talk about how much a turkey weighs, or how sharp its spurs are or how long its beard is, but ultimately none of that matters a bit. Any turkey you fool is a trophy in my book – even Hurteau’s jake.

*_1 3/8 ounce HeviShot 6s through my patchwork camo 870 with an iron-sighted barrel and a choke tube matched to the gun by Rob Roberts Gunworks. There were at least a dozen holes in the turkey’s head._