Mississippi’s Magnolia Records program tracks turkey hunting records in the state and has a database that includes hundreds of birds taken by hunters within its borders.
The information is available by visiting the MDWFP online at https://xnet2.mdwfp.com/applications/Turkey/magnoliaRecords.aspx.
Once on the site, viewers can search the database by many methods: by hunter name; typical turkey (single beard); non-typical (multiple beards); beard length; weight; and spur.
Here are some of the top birds:
Longest beard: 17.25 inches, killed by Monty Roberts, April 30, 2001, in Monroe County. The bird had 1-inch spurs on each leg and weighed 16.75 pounds for a total score of 71.25 typical. Oddly enough, Roberts also ranks No. 3 in beard with a 16-incher killed the next season, also in Monroe County. That bird had 1.19-inch spurs on each leg, weighed 19.77 pounds. The second bird produced a higher total typical score of 75.57. Neither ranks in the top 10 of typical birds in Mississippi.
Total beard length (non-typical): 60.25 inches. On a hunt in Pontotoc County on April 8, 2010, Don Shumaker killed a gobbler with nine beards. The longest was 10.75 inches, followed by measurements of 8, 5.75, 7.5, 7, 6.25, 5.25, 5 and 4.75. The bird weighed 19.06 pounds and, oddly enough, had spurs of less than an inch on each leg. Mississippi’s other top five total lengths are 57.25, 53.26, 52.86 and 52.7.
Longest spur: 1.88 inches. Killed by Don Marascalo on April 16, 2007, in Lauderdale County, this turkey had its longest of two giant spurs on its left leg. The spur on the right leg was just a measly little ol’ 1.75 inches, which would tie it for sixth place, giving it a total of 3.63 inches of spur. James Ellis’ bird killed in 2015 in Rankin County is tied for second for longest spur with 1.875, but ranks first it total spur length with 3.75 inches. Both of Ellis’ spurs were 1.875 inches.
Heaviest: 26.25 pounds. Hunting in Rankin County on March 19, 2015, David Evans killed the heavies turkey ever taken in Mississippi, beating by nearly a pound the old record of 25.27 killed in 2009 by Laura Kay Russell in Panola County. Later in 2015, Russell’s bird was dropped to No. 3 when Daniel Favazza killed a 25.61-pound bird in Marshall County. Surprisingly, the top seven heavyweights were all typical birds.
Total score, typical: 80.64. Amp Frith holds the Magnolia Record for best single-beard, or typical turkey for a gobbler he killed on April 8, 2005, in Smith County. His bird serves as a prime example of the emphasis placed on spur and beard length over weight — at 19.94 pounds, Frith’s turkey is the lightest in the top 8 typical birds.
Total score, non-typical: 157.06. Shumaker’s 9-bearded bird ranks as the No. 1 non-typical by 5.5 points. Jerreld Keele is second at 151.16 for a 2008 bird killed in Tishomingo County. With the spurs of a 2-year-old gobbler, both less than an inch, and a moderate weight of 19.06 pounds, Shumaker’s record was built primarily on the 60.25 inches of total beard length.