Gobbler With Double Spurs On Each Leg Taken In South Georgia

WRD biologist has never seen a bird like this during her tenure as the state’s turkey biologist.

Mike Bolton | April 17, 2024

Double spurs on a wild turkey gobbler are extremely rare. Pretty impressive turkey for Grant Tucker’s first tom.

As a 19-year-old turkey hunter in just his second season, Grant Tucker was just hoping to finally claim that he had killed his first turkey. Killing a gobbler that was one of the rarest in history wasn’t even in his wildest dreams.

“I had been chasing this bird on my father’s blueberry farm for two seasons,” the Valdosta college student said. “I had seen it several times and knew it was a good mature bird. I just couldn’t call it in close enough to ever get a shot. All I knew about it was that it was big, and he had a good beard.”

Long on desire but short on turkey-hunting experience and turkey-calling skills, Grant knew he needed help with the Clinch County gobbler. He called family friend Lanier McCurdy and said he needed help in killing a gobbler that was giving him fits.

“Mr. McCurdy came over, and we went out and set up on the edge of a blueberry field about daylight,” he said. “We got settled, and Mr. Curdy made a couple of hen calls. One turkey gobbled about 200 yards to our left, and another gobbled about 400 yards straight in front of us.”

Grant had made turkeys gobble before, but this time he had an old pro helping.

“He’d make a hen call and the turkeys were gobbling in both directions. They were coming. They had to come through some real thick stuff. It was a swamp really.”

Grant was about to learn what might be the most important turkey hunting skill of all: patience.

“Mr. McCurdy didn’t call again for 30 minutes, and the turkeys didn’t gobble,” he said. “It was super quiet. Mr. McCurdy told me to get my gun up and be ready.”

The gobblers finally appeared in the blueberry field about 60 yards away. There were several gobblers with several hens tagging along.

“One of the gobblers had a whiter head than the others, and I knew it was the bird I had been hunting,” he said. “He blew up, and I could see it was a big mature bird. He kept walking, and when he got to about 45 yards away, I could see him between two blueberry plants. He stuck his head out, and I shot. He immediately went down and barely flopped.”

Grant and his friend gave each other high-fives.

Grant Tucker and his double-spurred gobbler.

“My heart was beating out of my chest,” he said. “I told Mr. McCurdy I had been dying to go hold this bird, and let’s go take a look.

“We walked over there to the bird and saw it had a long beard that turned out to be 10 1/4 inches. Then I checked the spurs.

“I said Mr. McCurdy, you are not going to believe this, but he has two spurs on each leg. He couldn’t believe it. He said he had never seen that before. When I took it to the taxidermist, he said he had mounted more than 700 birds and never seen that. I knew then I had something special.”

Special indeed. Emily Rushton, WRD’s State Wild Turkey Coordinator, saw pictures of the bird and was shocked.

“Wow, that’s amazing!” she said. “This is the first report I have seen of double spurs since I have been in my position. I imagine that like most other turkey oddities, it is a genetic mutation.”

Emily did some further research and came up with this from Lovett Williams, a prominent turkey biologist, in his 1996 book, After the Hunt.

“Two spurs on each leg are rare,” the passage read. “Fewer than 2-dozen cases are known.”

Grant, who attends Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and is studying to be an electrician, says he’s getting a full-body mount on the unusual bird.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime turkey he said,” he said. “He’s something special.”

This is the second rare bird GON has heard about this season. GON released a story on April 11 about a melanistic turkey with no spurs.

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