7-Year-Old Maine Hunter Shoots Trophy Turkey with 4 Beards

Emilia Cote and Grayson Cote, both under 10 years old, went on their first turkey hunt this spring with their uncle Jesse Cote, a registered Maine guide. The trio was surprised to find an adult male turkey with four beards. According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the beard on turkeys are actually bristle-like feathers that protrude from the chest. In this case, the turkey shot by Emilia Cote actually sported four distinguishable beards.

Emelia and Grayson have hunted deer in the past, each harvesting an animal, but neither had tried turkey hunting. That’s when Jesse Cote jumped at the opportunity to take them. Their outing lasted less than two hours.

According to Audubon.org, a turkey’s beard can be an indication of dominance and health. It quotes the National Wild Turkey Federation as saying the longest beard it has recorded is 11.75 inches. However, it also suggested a turkey could have up to 13 beards, although several of them are likely to be wispy, short feathers. It is estimated that fewer than two percent of turkeys have more than one beard.

Jesse Cote subsequently scored the bird based on NWTF guidelines and found that Emilia Cote’s turkey came in with a raw score of 89, which should place it among some of the highest-scoring toms shot this year in Maine.

Aroostook County was among the last areas of Maine to establish a huntable population of wild turkeys. Hunters in most of the region (Wildlife Management Districts 1-6 and 8) may now harvest one bearded bird during the spring season.


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