While many die-hard turkey hunters might turn their noses up at decoys and folding pop-up blinds when hunting alone, they consider them absolutely necessary accessories when guiding a youngster.
“The younger the hunters are, and less experienced they are, the more necessary some assistance is,” said Gerald Harper of Jackson, a long-time turkey chaser. “I don’t care who you are, Preston Pittman, Will Primos or Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, when you are taking a 9- or 10- or 11-year-old boy or girl, you need a blind and a decoy to keep the gobbler’s attention away from you.”
Harper named the three famous Mississippi hunters out of respect, but doesn’t back off the statement.
“They may be some of the best around and know what they are doing, but a youngster on his first hunt is going to make some mistakes, including moving when a bird is close,” Harper said. “A blind covers that. A decoy might draw the gobbler’s attention away.
“And a third tool, and one too many overlook, is a good set of shooting sticks, or some kind of gun rest. We all know times when we struggled to hold a shotgun at aim waiting for a long-bearded tom to provide a shot. Think about a youngster and his or her arms. Even with a .410 or a light 20-gauge, they will need help.”
He gets no argument from Revel Rawlings, the former President of the Mississippi Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation who raised two sons that now share his passion.
“A blind, decoys and shooting sticks, and I’d rate them in importance in that order,” said Rawlings of Ridgeland. “Little ones have a tendency to move a lot, and I’m not talking about the mistakes that adults make like turning a head or something like that. They get restless and will move. Inside a blind, it’s like a tent. Kids can even crawl around or play with a video game and be concealed. And a great thing about the modern pop-ups is that they are quick and easy to deploy and take down, and light enough to pack in and out and to move from area to area during a day.”
The daily limit for youths under 15 is one gobbler of any age per day, three per spring (includes youth and regular season). The limit for hunters 16 and over is one mature gobbler, or a gobbler with a minimum 6-inch beard per day, three per spring season.