John Gentry may have had the best line about the current state of turkey hunting in Mississippi, when he gave this report about his bad luck since opening day.
“Seems the gobblers have about as bad a case of sinus infection as I do,” said Gentry, 43, of Brandon. “Hurts me to talk; must hurt them to gobble, because for the past two weeks they’ve been awfully quiet.
“This weather has been killing me, and, although I’m joking about the birds having sinus problems, I am sure that the weather has been a factor in how inconsistent the gobbler behavior has been. Combine that with all the hens out there competing with our calling, it’s about as tough as it usually is after that first initial rush.”
Gentry had a great opening morning hunt on March 15, killing a bird within two hours of sunrise on private land in Smith County.
“I had about 10 birds gobbling that morning, and after striking out on the two I thought were most dominant, I moved about a mile and got a trio of 2-year-old birds to come strutting in,” he said, “They must have gobbled a hundred times between them the last 200 yards they walked.
“I’ve hunted six times since then and on three different places and different counties and I think I’ve heard two gobblers since. Both of them gobbled on the roost a few times never again after fly down.”
Conditions have not been conducive to excellent hunting, several hunters have said.
“I don’t think we’ve had any kind of consistency since the season opened,” said Trey Williamson of Meridian. “We’ve had some gorgeous mornings, but we’ve also had some cold mornings, some foggy mornings and some windy mornings.
“I have not killed a turkey so far, and have only had one close call, and that was in the afternoon, about 1 o’clock when I stumbled on a lone gobbler while I was walking out to my truck. I made one last, loud cutting call on a tube in an area where I had heard one gobbling that morning on the roost and I guess I got him to shock gobble. He was about 100 yards down in the woods and I got him to within 50 yards, but that was it. We played for about 30 minutes before he finally left.”
One youngster who has had an interesting first two weeks to the season is Austin Partridge, 16, of Terry. Last Saturday (March 22) he and Terry High School classmate and friend Austin Fortenberry — that’s right two Austins — doubled up on gobblers. Hunting together with Partridge calling, Fortenberry killed his tom in the morning and Partridge matched it at noon.
Neither of the stories involving the two gobblers are out of the ordinary. No, the best story Partridge tells came from the opening weekend when he chased a wild hog to its suicidal death.
The youngster was helping his dad guide some guests at the family’s camp in the river bluffs of Claiborne County. His father, Keith Partridge, is a former professional turkey guide in that area.
“I was hunting with this guy up on top of the hills at our camp, and we decided to leave one field and walk to another,” the younger Partridge said. “We were walking down this road, and I saw what looked like a bunch of brown logs on the ground. Turns out, it was a big sow hog and a bunch of her piglets.”
The guest wasn’t interested, but Partridge was and started moving up for a shot. All he had was his turkey shotgun and turkey loads.
“They got up and started running in tall grass and I shot one and crippled it, and they were scattering and half went one way and half went another and I was trying to get close enough to make a kill shot with the shotgun,” he said.
“I saw this one piglet start running out on this finger that extended between two ravines, and I started moving toward it to get a close shot. The grass was high but all of a sudden I started hearing this running noise and then a loud splat.”
The piglet did a nosedive off the cliff.
“I thought I had him cornered on that finger, but I guess not,” Partridge said. “I mean he just ran off the cliff and disappeared and I heard him hit the bottom. Dad asked me if it hit with a thud, and I told him no. It was more like a splat. It was a long, long, long way down, about three or four stories straight down.”
Retrieving it was out of the question.
“Heck no, there was no way to get down there,” Partridge said. “This was no slope, it was straight down.
“Besides, there wasn’t nothing left to go get.”