Wisconsin hunter bags five-bearded tom
Sparta, Wis. — Ever shoot a gobbler with a beard measuring 311⁄8 inches?
Odds are way better than even that no Wisconsin turkey hunter has ever done that.
However, Ryan Tichenor, of Sparta, did shoot a gobbler with five beards that totaled 311⁄8 inches.
That happened April 23 during Wisconsin’s second turkey season in Monroe County and Zone 1. Tichenor was hunting alone that day when he shot the five-bearded bird at 2:30 p.m., but he had been in contact with that gobbler and three others all day long.
“I had four turkeys gobbling all day long – from 7 a.m. on. At about 11 a.m. a tom came in strutting, saw the decoy, and ran away,” Tichenor said. “Later, a jake came in, then a jake with a hen and the five-bearded tom. I watched them for about a half hour. That’s how long it took them to get into range.”
As Tichenor watched the gobbler come into range, and even right after he shot it, he didn’t realize the tom was sporting five beards. That discovery came after he walked up to the bird and noticed a second beard as he tagged the gobbler.
“I had no clue until after I shot it. I saw the second beard, tagged him, walked back to truck with the bird, and then saw four beards. When I separated the feathers and beards, I saw the fifth one,” he said.
The five beards reached a total of 311⁄8 inches with the following beard lengths: 101⁄4 inches, 61⁄8, 63⁄8, 41⁄2, and 37⁄8.
The bird weighed 20 pounds and had 3⁄4-inch spurs – likely a 2-year-old bird.
This is just Tichenor’s fourth year of turkey hunting. A family friend took him out when he was 16, the same age at which he tried hunting deer with a bow and gun.
“It had been 12 years since I had gone (turkey hunting) again because of work and school. I started again a few years ago. This is only the second turkey that I’ve called in and shot,” said Tichenor, who works for Handishop Industries, a nonprofit business development organization.
“I might buy a couple of extra tags for the fourth and fifth seasons,” he said.
So, at first glance, a person might think that 311⁄8 inches of beard should set some sort of record, right? Not so.
The National Wild Turkey Federation charts typical and nontypical turkey records by weight, beard length, and spur length. Any turkey with more than one beard is considered a nontypical bird.
The longest total beard length record belongs to a Wisconsin bird that also ranks as NWTF’s No. 1 nontypical record.
Wisconsin’s John E. Fryatt shot an eight-bearded bird in Richland County on April 19, 1989. Total beard length was 70.8750 inches. The bird weighed 221⁄4 pounds and had 11⁄2-inch spurs. Fryatt’s bird scored 194 total points and still stands as the No. 1 NWTF nontypical bird.
The most beards? That would be nine, and also from a Wisconsin bird. Steven D. Bock shot a nine-bearded Sauk County bird on May 11, 1995 that still ranks No. 2 on the NWTF nontypical list at 193.75 points. Total beard length was 72.6875 inches. That bird weighed 24 pounds; its spurs were 1.25 and 1.1875 inches.