Georgia Record Gobbler Beard Measures 17 7/8 Inches

Joey Scanlon’s gobbler has the second-longest beard ever recorded on an Eastern wild turkey.

GON Staff | April 9, 2005

Joey Scanlon holds the turkey with the longest beard ever taken in Georgia. He killed the Butts County tom on March 23, and the beard’s longest strand measured 17 7/8 inches long. The bird is No. 2 in the Longest Beard list, meaning it has the second-longest beard from any bird ever recorded nationwide.

Joey Scanlon, of Griffin, killed a Butts County gobbler on March 23, 2004 that sits on top of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Longest Beard Eastern in Georgia list. The beard measured 17 7/8-inch long and is the No. 2 longest beard ever recorded from any species of turkey, according to the NWTF.

Joey’s bird not only ranks No. 1 in the Longest Beard Eastern in Georgia list, but the big tom ranks No. 9 in the Best Overall Eastern Typical in Georgia list.

When he killed the bird, Joey was hunting with his buddy Brandon Smith, also from Griffin. The two were a little late getting to the woods, so they just set up in some pines on the edge of a fallow pecan orchard. There were several strips of privet that ran through the orchard. Brandon was doing the calling.

“A bird responded to us pretty quick,” said Joey. “This bird sounded like he was coming to us, but he walked straight past us. He stayed 150 yards out gobbling his head off.”

There was a rise in the field, so the two hunters had not seen the bird.

“He went off to the right, but a few minutes later he came to us,” said Joey. “When he got to us, we saw he had another bird with him. He was walking straight at me between two privet heads, and I shot him straight on. The sad part was that I cut a good portion of his beard off. There was still beard left, but it wasn’t the full thick beard. The other bird backed off behind a privet head for a couple of minutes and walked back out. I shot him, too.”

Joey’s second bird had an 11-inch beard. The morning had been a good one for Joey — but he didn’t know how good.

“I didn’t realize the beard was that long — I thought it was maybe 13 inches,” said Joey. “We threw both birds in the truck and went hunting some more.”

After the morning’s hunt, Joey decided to put a tape to the beard. When he saw the beard was in the 16- or 17-inch range, he called his buddy Yancey Houston for some advice.

“Yancey is all into records and that stuff, and I asked him if he’d ever seen a 17-inch beard,” said Joey. “He says, ‘No, have you?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sitting here looking at one.’ I think he thought I was joking. I told him I shot one with a beard that long, and he told me to be at his house in a half hour.”

The Butts County property wasn’t done producing big gobblers for the 2004 season. Several weeks later Brandon and Joey returned to the property. This time Joey was doing the calling, and he pulled in an officially weighed 25-lb. bird for Brandon. That bird is not yet registered with the NWTF.

An Evans County bird killed by Quinn Tanner, of Claxton, placed No. 6 in the Best Overall Eastern Typical in Georgia list. Quinn rolled the bird on April 6, 2004, and the big tom’s spurs measured 1.6875 and 1.75 inches and scored 79.565 typical points. The bird had a 12.125-inch beard and sits No. 78 on the Best Overall Eastern Typical list.

This is the best registered typical bird shot in two years. The Evans County bird was killed by Quinn Tanner, and it scored 79.565. It’s ranked No. 6 in NWTF’s Best Overall Eastern Typical in Georgia list.

Quinn and a friend, Jamie Griner, of Claxton, were hunting along the edge of a creek. Three birds were hammering from the roost in front of the hunters. The two hunters set up a few feet apart against a pair of big oaks. Meanwhile, a single tom gobbled one time behind Quinn and Jamie.

“As we were waiting for these other three birds to come, we heard a gobbler behind us spit twice — he didn’t drum,” said Quinn. “I looked at Jamie, and he had seen the bird. His eyes were big as saucers.”

The bird came in on Jamie’s right side, so he was unable to swing and shoot.

“He was about five steps behind us in full strut,” said Quinn. “I hadn’t even seen the bird.”

The bird walked a semicircle around the hunters and was heading toward Quinn’s left side. The bird walked behind a tree, and Jamie told Quinn to get his gun up.

“I’d turned on him and by that time he looked like he out 40 steps or so,” said Quinn. “He was steady going away. I thought he was in range, and I pulled the trigger and he went down. I was shooting a 20 gauge.”

When walking to the bird, the hunters discovered the 20-gauge shot had traveled 52 steps to the bird.

“I was some kind of proud of that bird,” said Quinn. “I’d never seen an Eastern with spurs like that.”

A third bird, one that hasn’t been officially registered yet, is likely to be a new No. 3 on the Best Overall Eastern Typical in Georgia list. At presstime, the NWTF had received Wes Miller’s application, but the processing would take several weeks.

This Toombs County bird was taken by Wes Miller of Lyons on March 23. At presstime, the bird was waiting approval from NWTF. If certified, it would score 82 typical points and would be the No. 3 typical Georgia bird ever registered.

Wes’s Toombs County bird unofficially scores 82 typical points, which was helped with a matching set of 1.75-inch spurs. He rolled the bird late in the morning on March 23, 2004. Like Joey Scanlon and Quinn Tanner, Wes was hunting with a friend when a shotgun blast resulted in a giant turkey. Wes was hunting with Steven Newsome of Reidsville — the two were hoping for a double.

“The wind was blowing,” said Wes. “We looked across a hay pasture and could see three gobblers.”

Wes and Steven hit the woods and began going up the field, heading toward the toms.

“We got within 200 yards of them, and Steven belly crawled to the edge of the field,” said Wes. “I started calling. I kept looking for Steven to tell me something, but he wouldn’t move. I didn’t know it, but the birds were running down the edge of the field to him. They got within 75 yards and stopped. Steven slid back in the bushes to me.”

Both hunters got their guns ready, and after a few more calls, all three gobblers nearly fell in their laps.

Steven was the first to connect.

“The turkey I killed was 10 yards away, and he was breaking to run after the shot,” said Wes. “We knew he was a good bird, but we didn’t know how good he was. We threw him in the back of the truck, went to town and had lunch.”

After lunch they met with some friends, and Wes measured the spurs. Everyone was shocked at the long, 1.75-inch hooks on the bird.

“Needless to say he didn’t stay in the back of the truck long — he went in the back seat of the truck.”

The formula for scoring a turkey is simple: The turkey’s weight + the beard(s) length (times two) + the total spur length (times 10). Turkeys with two or more beards are considered atypical. If your bird weighs more than 22 pounds, it’ll need to be weighed on certified scales with witnesses.

To learn more about registering your bird with the NWTF, go to

If you nail a big Georgia gobbler this spring, email a picture of your turkey and the details to GON at [email protected].

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