Score and register your fall harvest

While fall turkey seasons are still going strong in many states, it is a good time to review how to score those wild turkeys and how to submit harvest records to the NWTF database.

In 1980, Col. David Harbour, outdoor writer and wild turkey hunting enthusiast, created the database, which has more than 26,000 records today.

Harbour consulted wildlife biologists to develop a formula to score wild turkeys. Categorized by subspecies, the formula provides a level playing field for birds nationwide. The Wild Turkey Records scoring system gives greater significance to spur and beard length measurements, while factoring in the bird’s weight — albeit to a lesser degree. Harbour believed all three should be considered in scoring the gobbler. Harbour, an early supporter of the NWTF, turned responsibility of the Wild Turkey Records over to the NWTF in 1982.

Spending a little time investigating the interactive map and the database of wild turkey harvests can reveal amazing stories of unique turkeys. You can find where the gobbler with the longest or most beards was taken, or where those with the longest spurs came from or where the largest birds were harvested. To be included in the database, you must register your harvests, and that starts with scoring your wild turkey.

Review the steps for scoring your wild turkey before heading out so you’ll have the documentation needed to submit your harvest to the NWTF. A current NWTF member from the state where the bird was harvested must verify all measurements.

  1. Weigh your bird in pounds and ounces and convert ounces to decimal form. A calculator ( on the NWTF website can do the math for you.
  2. Measure each spur. Spurs must be measured along the outside center, from the point at which the spur protrudes from the scaled leg skin to the tip of the spur. Add both spur measurements and multiply the combined length of the spurs by 10. This is the number of points you receive for the turkey’s spurs.
  3. Measure the beard length. Measure from the center point of the protrusion of the skin to the tip and convert it to decimal form. Next, multiply the beard length figure by two; this is the number of points you receive for the beard length.

If you have an atypical bird (multiple beards), measure each beard, convert them to a decimal number, then add those figures together and multiply by two. This is the number of points you receive for your turkey’s beards.

Add together the weight, the points for spurs and points for beard(s). This is your bird’s total score.

Now that you have your bird properly scored, it’s time to submit the record to the NWTF.

Submit the Wild Turkey Records registration form and attachments, including photos, to This digital form can be completed online and submitted via email, or printed and submitted via mail. Mail the form and documentation to the attention of Wild Turkey Records, P.O. Box 530, Edgefield, SC, 29824.

Cost to register a bird is only $15, and registering those birds can be the start of your bid for a Slam.

Once all information is received, our staff works to register your bird in the database, and you will receive a certificate as well as a distinctive wild turkey lapel pin with the specific subspecies of the bird registered. Processing time is six to eight weeks.

Once your bird is registered, the record will appear in the database, which is updated monthly.

Didn’t get a fall bird or failed to register your spring bird? No problem. There is no time limit on registering your harvest as long as you can provide all the required information and signatures.

Let us see what unique turkeys the fall season brings.

– Susan Delk

Article Category