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On Saturday, April 15, a Tennessee turkey hunter named Cameron Freshour bagged a once-in-a-lifetime tom. It weighed 18 pounds with a set of 1 1/16-inch spurs, which is fairly common for an eastern gobbler in that part of the country. But according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the rare bird sported more than half a dozen beards with a combined length of 43 inches. 

“To our surprise, there was something different about this bird,” Freshour later told WJHL News Channel 11. “We started examining him and said, ‘Oh, he has two beards … wait actually three … no four.’ He ended up having seven beards in total.”

In an April 19 Facebook post recognizing Freshour’s turkey, the TWRA said that about 10 percent of all gobblers have multiple beards, with most of those having just two or three. The official National Wild Turkey Foundation (NWTF) world record had 13.

Freshour was hunting with his wife when he tagged the seven-bearded anomoly. According to an article in the Greeneville Sun, he lured it into shooting range with a few soft yelps and the aid of a decoy equipped with a realistic tail fan. Freshour reportedly entered the bird into a local turkey hunting contest, wining first place honors and a brand new turkey gun.

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The turkey scored 125.5 on the NWTF scoring scale. The NWTF record—tagged by a Pennsylvania youth hunter named Tyler Mumpower in 2017—weighed 22 pounds. Its 13 beards measured out at a combined 77.9 inches in length.

This year, Tennessee’s turkey season started on April 15—two weeks later than normal. Game commissioners in the Volunteer State also set a new bag limit of just two birds instead of three, limited jake harvesting to one only, and outlawed reaping on public lands.

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