Double Bearded Turkeys: Are They Really Real?

We all know that most turkeys grow beards. However, do you believe that there are double bearded turkeys? Intrigue? Know the real answer here!

Have you heard about double bearded turkeys? Many amateur hunters probably don't know that this kind of creatures exists on the spectrum of birds. Maybe it is quite ridiculous in the first place to consider them real. However, they are, and they exist, especially on the wilds.

I know a lot of hunters who once in their career, hunted and mounted a double bearded turkey. I think it is quite a feat already if you can catch or spot one. After all, their existence is a peculiar oddity that only science can answer. I have to spot one yet, so I am still anticipating my reaction once I can have a hold of these rare finds.

Luckily, one of my friends told me specifically all about double bearded turkeys. And if you are quite curious by yourself, then pay attention to the explanation that I will give. I won't be technical as possible. Instead, I will just relay some basic information about this kind of turkeys.


What Is A Double Bearded Turkey?

First, let me always emphasize that finding a turkey with a double beard is a case of fortune. Most of the turkeys that you can hunt today don't possess this feature. If you can spot or shoot one, then that can serve as one of your legacies as a hunter.

The truth is, the beard is not really a beard or any form of hair derivatives. In fact, it is actually a feather (a modified one) that shapes as a kind of a firm bristle. We all know that a cluster of bristles may look like a beard. Therefore, many hunters, even the experienced ones, always mistook it as a beard. When they discovered this fact, it is too late already. After all, everybody is referring this part a beard already. Who wants to call is a cluster of bristles, anyway?

If you are a hunter, catching a turkey with a double beard is really awesome. As I said, you cannot easily spot such creatures even if you will search thoroughly.

As a part of a turkey, a beard has no really specific use or purpose. It is not edible, and it is not a good material for creating craft products (such as bags). However, a beard is quite good as home decoration. It is a like a trophy that would mystify your friends. Of course, there is no problem in preserving this part. It is not a flesh so it would not produce foul odor as the time passes.

What Determines The Length Of The Turkey's Beard?

Each beard is distinct to one another. Specifically, one beard is different in size and thickness from the other. Moreover, there is a general rule in measuring the length of the beard precisely.

Seasoned hunters know that a young male turkey (who is born in spring) will be one-year-old comes hunting season. We refer a turkey on this stage as a "Jake." If a Jake grows a beard, it would have a probable maximum length of about 4 to 5 inches. In the next spring, that turkey would already be two years old. By that time, its beard would already reach 9 to 10 inches in maximum. Those birds that have a double beard that measure 10 inches or more are probably three years old or older. However, some Toms can have a beard that spans longer than 11 to 12 inches.

Double Bearded Turkey: Not So Typical

Some hunters have already found turkeys that have two or more beards. As a general rule, most of the turkeys will grow a beard. However, a small percentage of them can develop multiple but distinct beards. The alignment of these feathers are vertical, and you can notice a small allowance between beards.

Peculiarly, the size of the distinct beards is not the same. One is relatively bigger and thicker than the rest. Of course, you can expect that the other beards are smaller and thinner. You can call the larger thread as the primary beard. Moreover, the variation of the length of these beards is around 1/4 inch in diameter.

I even know some hunters who harvested toms that have a triple beard! It is not an exaggeration. These creatures exist, but as I said, they are very rare. Moreover, toms that have six to seven beards are not a product of myth. They exist, but there is a good chance that you won't find one in your lifetime (Sorry to say that).

Do These Beards Have A Purpose?

Until now, nobody can still distinguish the exact purpose why beards appear in the first place. Some believe that their existence is just a part of a bird's aesthetics. I find this is a neat theory, but on the other hand, I think that all parts of the body serve a purpose. If we genuinely incline to Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin, then my speculation is 100% right.

In my observation, these beards act as a sort of gender indicator. It somehow performs as a visual cue that the turkey is a male. Even as a human, you will quickly identify that a strutting gobbler is a male when it is projecting its beard.

Do not expect that a hen can grow a beard! That is definitely absurd--but that is not the end of the story.

Well, a hen with beards may somehow sound stupid. However, reality is sometimes stranger than fiction. In the case of turkeys, there is a unique case in when a hen can actually develop a beard. To be exact, around 20% of the hen population grows a beard.

Can a hen develop a double beard? Yes. They can. The size of their primary beard is around 7 1/2 inches. Moreover, you should expect that their beards are thinner compared to the male turkeys.


As a hunter, I don't have a specific obsession when it comes to double bearded turkeys. If I can see one, I will catch it. If I can't, then I will just call it a day. However, if you are the enthusiastic one, then I will advise you to contact fellow hunters and maybe they can give you a hint on where you can find these hunting treasures.

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