What Is A Jake Turkey ?

​A lot of people will ask you why you would want to hunt a Jake Turkey, because a lot of hunters actually consider it unsportsmanlike and bad form to kill a Jake Turkey. A Jake Turkey is an immature male, usually in their first year of life and usually recognizable from a Tom or a gobbler which is what an adult male is called. There are actually hunters who will verbally tell you off for killing a Jake. Their main reason for not hunting Jake’s is they want them to grow into adult males the over the following years.

Some hunters want Jake’s.

​There is a group of hunters out there who actually go after Jake’s, the reason they want Jake’s is they are hunting for the meat and a younger bird is much more tender in the pot. Before you actually decide to go hunting any kind of Turkey you need to check the regulations where you are, most States today have a two bird bag limit, with one of them having to be an adult male, even if you are hunting for meat you can only take one Jake. However if you really want to get your fellow hunters annoyed with you suggest that you might go and take a hen, which is an adult female turkey.

​There is a lot of etiquette amongst hunters which differ from hunting group to hunting group, if you belong to a group of friends who regularly hunt then you will know already what the etiquette of your group is. However, if you join an organized hunt then you need to talk to the guide about what appropriate behavior is in that particular group. Most people would not want to be ostracized for shooting the wrong bird.

​With hunters who object to taking anything except Tom’s, even broaching the subject of shooting a Jake or a hen will get an extremely lively conversation going very fast. If you are in one such group then they are not interested in eating anything they shoot, they are trophy hunters and that means the bigger the bird the better. Even suggesting you take a Jake for the pot will get you immediately informed that doing so is not acceptable. Organized hunting groups with a guide can be extremely expensive especially in states like Florida where the cost could run up to $1500 per day and for that kind of money most of us would want a guarantee of using our two tags.

​One of the reasons guided hunts cost so much is that in most states you cannot get a permit to hunt unless you are resident in that state and the people who run the guided hunts seem to be able to get enough tags for everybody. They say the reason for the expense is that most public land is over hunted and they need to pay landowners for the right to hunt on private land, they say this is to guarantee the hunters get to use both their tags.

A Jake Turkey

​Another reason a lot of hunters suggest killing Jake’s is unsportsmanlike is that Jake’s tend to hang around in groups, some hunters have reported groups up to 16 individuals in number and when they are lured in the whole group comes, so bagging two of them is not difficult. Also Jake’s are generally non-aggressive because they just don’t have the size or the weaponry yet to put up a fight. An adult gobbler can be if provoked, a seriously dangerous opponent. Their main weapon, of course, is that large spur on the back of each of their legs, it is razor sharp and they know how to use it and they have been known to attack humans if cornered.

Should you be hunting Jake’s.

Personally, I would say yes, because unless I’m hunting for meat I do not hunt. I do understand why Trophy hunters hunt and most of them I get along with fine. Nearly every hunter I ever talked to has shot a Jake, everyone makes mistakes. What generally happened was they set up their lure and a young male Jake came in response to it, once the Jake is on the spot you generally have only a few seconds to decide whether you are going to take it or not, they can recognize a trap when they see it, and will bolt very fast.

One thing it should be noted about Jake’s is that they seem to be fair game for all children, so even if you are in a party of Trophy hunters and there is a child there, usually under 16, everyone is quite happy for them to take a Jake. Some states that prohibit taking Jake’s normally allow children to take one as part of their bag limit. Always remember that bagging an immature bird of any kind can have social and ethical repercussions amongst some people, so find out what is the norm where you are.


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