The gobbler's tongue was protruding from a hole in its neck
As a taxidermist, Nathan Taylor has seen many odd-looking critters, but he says the turkey he shot that had its tongue protruding from its neck is probably the oddest. Image by Nathan Taylor
As owner of Wild Creations Taxidermy in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, Nathan Taylor has seen some strange things on the critters brought to him. But he says he’s never seen anything like the oddity he discovered on the turkey he killed in Edmonson earlier this month.
On a Facebook post showcasing his opening-day kill, Taylor wrote, “I wondered why the bird I killed opening day didn’t gobble and only weighed 13 pounds. Upon skinning him out, I noticed a major abnormality. His tongue is not in his mouth. It is external and protruding through a hole in his throat, making gobbling impossible and eating extremely difficult. Thought I had about seen everything until this.”
Taylor and his son, Trent, were experiencing a slow morning of hunting. The turkeys weren’t vocal and the first setup failed, so their hopes weren’t high. They were planning to hunt in another location when a bird finally gobbled a few times. They slipped up to a fence line on the edge of a pasture to get closer to him.
Nathan Taylor’s turkey only weighed 13.2 pounds, likely because eating was difficult due to its deformity. Image by Nathan Taylor
“There was a gobbler in full strut a couple hundred yards away with what appeared to be two hens, judging by the size of the birds. I began calling and the gobbler started responding, but didn’t want to break away from the hens. I grabbed a tail fan, slid under the fence, and got the bird’s attention. After a minute or so of weaving the fan back and forth, I got the bird to commit and he headed right to us. I slid back under the fence and told my son to get ready. When they got to about 70 yards, my son said, ‘Dad, the other one has a beard too.’ So, I grabbed my gun and we decided we would try to double.”
Taylor said the birds came to within 30 yards of them with the larger of the two gobbling regularly. But the smaller tom never gobbled.
“I told my son to shoot soon as he had a shot. He pulled the trigger and the larger bird hit the ground without a flop. I turned to shoot the second one on the run, missing the first shot but hitting on a second shot. We were very excited to get our first double.”
Nathan Taylor believes the bird’s deformity is likely due to a birth defect rather than an injury. Image by Nathan Taylor
When they picked up the birds, Taylor noticed his bird’s light weight.
“When taking pictures, I noticed something hanging under the beak of my bird and discovered it was its tongue. That explained why the bird never gobbled and its lighter weight because it had difficulty eating.”
Taylor said the bird only weighed 13.2 pounds, had 1-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard. In comparison, Trent’s bird weighed 23.5 pounds, had 1 ¼-inch spurs and had a 10-inch beard.
Taylor says he’s fairly certain the bird’s tongue issue was caused by a birth defect.
“There was no evidence of a wound or scarring. Where the tongue came out was perfectly center of the throat. I’ve seen birds with multiple beards, double spurs, extra tail feathers and even a double snoot, but this was a first and by far, the weirdest.”
After posting the photos on social media, Taylor said another person commented that his dad had killed a bird with the exact same issue last year.
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