Well, you have put in your time scouting and locating a gobbler. As you begin calling, a couple of toms respond and begin heading toward you, quickly closing the gap. As they approach and start strutting around, how do you identify which one is a mature gobbler?
An easy way to determine a jake (juvenile gobbler) from a mature gobbler is to look at the tail. When the tail is fanned out on a jake, the middle feathers will be between 2 to 4 inches longer than the rest of the feathers. These longer feathers give the fan an uneven hump in the middle.
The reason behind this is that in late summer as a jake molts he only replaces the middle tail feathers. The next year the tail molts in the normal adult pattern leaving gobblers with a nice even fan. Once gobblers reach 2 years of age they will have an even fan for the rest of their life.
Next time you find yourself fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of toms, remember this quick easy tip for gauging the age of a strutting turkey at a distance.