Turkey record keeping

When I began turkey hunting in the early 1990s, I couldn’t have dreamed I would harvest so many birds and Grand Slams. Even with no goals in mind, notes and record keeping were always important to me.

In the good old days, I actually had a new notebook every year I would fill from front to back with names, addresses, directions and phone numbers. I was so neurotic I would total everything up when I had time in summer. I could accurately tell you the average weight, beard and spurs of my birds and the hours I slept, miles I drove and hiked, and money I spent per bird that spring. Here’s my per-bird average from Spring 1999, after harvesting 17 turkeys: 18.2 pounds, 8 2/16-inch beard, 12/16-inch spurs, 478 miles driven, 5.4 miles hiked, 4.25 hours slept, $86 on licenses and $532 on other expenses.

Things have changed quite a bit. I have a file on my i-Phone where I keep my important information as I measure birds in the field. At the end of the year, I transfer the information to an Excel spreadsheet to keep it in order. I also keep a manila envelope with that year’s licenses. These simple steps make the process of submitting my annual records to the NWTF much easier.

If you’re interested in recording your turkeys, go to NWTF.org/hunt/records and download a form to fill in with your information. Then, submit the form with a check for $15 per bird. In turn, the NWTF will send you a certificate and pin for every bird and a certificate and pin for every Grand Slam recorded. You might not have any interest in recording birds now, but it’s important that you keep track of your records, because you’re not required to turn in birds the year you harvest them. Therefore, if you decide to turn in birds later, you can easily retrieve the information. 

Pro Tip > I have a 2-gallon Ziploc bag with several critical items. It stays in my truck March 1 through May 31. It contains rubber bands, a small tape measure, a black permanent sharpie marker, a Havalon knife with plenty of replaceable blades, a quart Ziploc bag full of latex gloves and handy wipes, a small digital fish scale with a piece of rope with a loop to put around birds’ feet, and several 2-gallon, 1-gallon and quart Ziploc bags.

— Jeff Budz

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