If there was one lesson that I learned as a daily newspaper editor, it was to be forever wary and vigilant about stories reporting the biggest and best.

Somebody is always breaking a record, or at least claiming to have done so. Sportsmen are no different, and reports of record catches or kills need to be carefully evaluated.

With Maine’s spring turkey season over, an interesting situation is developing over who can claim the state record wild turkey. Thus far, two hunters have stepped forward with truly braggable birds, with statistics that appear to eclipse previous state records.

The two hunters are Christopher Nadeau, a U.S. Navy Petty Officer from Brunswick, and Mark Norwood of Trenton.

Nadeau, a bow hunter, was hunting in Wells. His words:

“The turkey weighed 25 pounds, had a 9 3/16-inch” beard and 1-inch spurs. It scored 64.625. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, it is a Maine state record, firearm or bow. The largest by any means of harvest is 24.5625 lbs. with a firearm. So if these are 100 percent correct, and I hope they are, I have the heaviest in the state by any means of harvest. Every state north of North Carolina, and east of Kentucky, I have the heaviest turkey with a bow.”

Mark Norwood, a firearms hunter, was hunting in the Winterport area. His words:

“I walked up to the bird, put my shotgun against a tree. The bird layed in some water. I pulled the bird out and pricked my finger on his spur. His spur was 1-inches long. At that point, I knew I had a massive bird. Slung him on my shoulders and headed back out to my truck. At the tagging station, the bird weighed 27.91 pounds and had a 9.5 inch beard and 1-inch spurs. Calling my best friends in Howland of my bird, they told me it might be a state record. Taxidermist Tad Proudlove, who is a licensed scorer, said that he would score the bird. According to Proudlove taxidermy in Enfield, my Tom broke the old state record by over 3 points. The bird is going to be mounted in the strutting pose and will be displayed at Sportsman Shows every Spring.”

Two hunters, two birds, and, possibly, two different state records.

Scoring turkeys is not as simple as it sounds. Maine’s turkey biologist Mike Schummer, himself an avid turkey hunter, explained it to me this way.

“Not to belittle any turkey story, including about a turkey of that size … but, weight plays little into scoring of turkeys compared to beard and spur length. Think of it this way, a young turkey 2-3 years of age can be fat and have a long beard, but can not have long spurs. Inch spurs would be considered a 3-year-old bird. 1-plus inches is a 4- or 5-year-old bird. Once the spurs get to 1 and you can gut a fish with the spur, now you have a truly smart, trophy turkey. These are the ones that are hard to kill.

“Once a bird hits 4 or 5 years of age, they are nearly impossible to shoot. They’ve seen just about everything. In fact, we rarely see 4-year-olds in the harvest and probably less than a half dozen 5-year-olds each year out of 6,000 turkeys killed statewide.”

As biologist Schummer reminds those interested in turkey scoring, weight does not play as big a part in the equation as length of beard and size of spurs. For example, your turkey may weigh less than mine, but if it has a longer beard and spurs, it could eclipse mine in the record books, at least as far as the scoring criteria used by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

All of this being said, both sportsmen – Nadeau and Norwood – have birds to be proud of. Which bird is the state record holder? As they say at Fox News, “We report. You decide.”

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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