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Spring Turkey in Mississippi

February 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 146

Mississippi in springtime means turkey season. For six weeks more than 15,000 Mississippi sportsmen head for the woods with their shotguns, calls, and as much camo as they can carry looking for those big gobblers.

Wild turkeys in Mississippi are invariably of the Eastern (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) variety. Their large, featherless, reddish head, red throat distinguishes the males, and red wattles on the throat and neck. Males with their glossy feathers and bearded chests average 10-20 pounds and are much larger than the dull-feathered and usually beardless females who go 5-10 pounds. Another easy way to tell males from females is by the feather tips, black for toms, cream/tan for hens.

The MDWFP does an annual survey and report on gobbler getting throughout the state. According to Adam Butler in the upcoming 2012 "Spittin' & Drummin" Wild Turkey Report:

• Two-year-old gobblers represented a greater proportion of the harvest than any other age class, accounting for 43% of the overall harvest.

• For every 10 hours hunted, hunters saw an average of 10 turkeys, including approximately 2 adult gobblers, 5 hens, 2 jakes, and 1 unknown. These numbers were above the 10-year average for each category.

• The top five counties with the highest average number of gobblers heard per 10 hours hunted were all located in Turkey Region 4 and included Claiborne, Jefferson, Adams, Hinds, and Warren.

Slate and box calls are extremely popular and easy to use, but many Mississippi sportsmen prefer tube calls as you can vary your vocabulary more to get a young gobbler to respond. However, it is important not to over-call a bird, as older more mature toms are notoriously shy.

Camouflage is a must as turkey have sharp eyes and are spooked off by the least hint of bipeds with boom sticks. This includes good face camouflage and dark socks. As you will be sitting and waiting, usually against a tree, be in touch with your insect repellent, face screens, and gnat-hats. Remember you are not hunting deer here so scent control is not a big factor.

The most popular long arms that bring the best results in Mississippi are 10 gauge 3.5-inch turkey guns with extra-full chokes. A 12 gauge, 3-inch with a full will do, but be sure you can put 8-10 pellets into a turkey target's head out to 30-yards. If you can lure the toms in closer that is great, but be ready to take your shot at around 30-40 yards.

Mississippi's record turkeys are recorded in a few different ways: by beard scoring, by longest beard, by longest spur and by weight. Currently the records stand as follows:

• Top Scoring Non-Typical: April 8, 2010, Don Shumaker, Pontotoc County, 157.06 9 beards, 60.25 total inches

• Longest Beard: April 3, 2001, Monty Roberts, Monroe County, 17.25 inches

• Longest Spur: April 24, 2010, Robert Dinsmore, Noxubee County, 4.50 inches

• Heaviest: April 11, 2009, Lauren Kaye Russell, Panola County, 25.27 pounds

About 300,000 Eastern Wild Turkeys are believed to live in Mississippi, of which about 30,000 are harvested every year.

The spring turkey season starts with the March 8 - 14, 2012 Youth hunt on private and authorized state and federal public lands for those 15 and under. The regular spring season opens up on March 15 and closes on May 1st.

Bag limits are one (1) adult gobbler or one gobbler with a 6-inch or longer beard per day, three per spring season. Hunters 15 years of age and younger may harvest one gobbler of choice (any age) per day, 3 per spring season. With a $500 fine and six months in jail for persons exceeding the limit in the state, that's something to keep in mind.

With the numbers of wild turkey much less than deer or duck, a number of areas in the state are closed off from the Spring Turkey season for conservation reasons. In Coahoma County the areas West of Hwy. 61, east of Hwy. 1, north of Eagles Nest-Friars Pt. Rd., and south of Coahoma-Friars Point Rd are closed to turkey hunting this season. The same can be said for Leflore County West of Hwy. 7 and Hwy. 49E and north of Moorehead Rd. and south of Hwy. 442. In Sunflower County, the areas South of Hwy. 442 and east of Hwy. 3 and Hwy. 49W and north of Berclair Rd are closed. All of Quitman County is closed.

With the severe flooding of the Mississippi River Delta in 2011, the population of turkey in the state was reduced. While adult birds survived overall, their breeding was interrupted so fewer numbers of new hatchlings resulted. The state is not eliminating the spring season overall, but MDWFP does ask that turkey hunters be conservative this coming spring. Spring turkey season will be closed on the Mahannah and Shipland WMAs and restricted on the Sunflower and Twin Oaks WMAs due to low survey numbers there.

With a little luck, a lot of camo, a couple good calls, and a tight shooting shotgun, the wild turkey of Mississippi's piney woods await.

If you want to know more about turkey season in Mississippi please visit

Source: EzineArticles
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