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Worn Feathers by Grant Woods

By now many of you have tagged a tom! You may have already enjoyed a meal of fresh turkey!

However, there’s more to a turkey than great meat. Turkey feathers are cool. Many Native American tribes prized turkey feathers for use in ceremonies and fletching for arrows. My daughters enjoy making jewelry and other items from turkey feathers.

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Turkeys have 5000 to 6000 feathers. Some of the largest are the primary wing feathers. They are easily identified by the black and white bars.

Most often the primary wing feathers are worn and square at the end on gobblers harvested during the spring. Know why? It’s because toms drag these feathers when strutting or displaying!

The later during the season a tom is harvested the more worn or squared off the primary wing feathers will appear.

Check out this video and it will be obvious why the primary wing feathers are worn off and square. By the way, I love the sound of dragging primary wing feathers – it always means a tom is very close!

Chasing toms together,


Dr. Grant Woods
Dr. Grant Woods
Raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Dr. Grant Woods has consulted on wildlife research and management from Canada to New Zealand. A hunter since childhood, he not only knows how to grow big deer, but how to effectively hunt them as well. His work serves to improve deer herd quality and educate hunters about advanced management techniques.