Heavy March rains have forced the closure of turkey season at three of Mississippi’s South Delta state Wildlife Management Areas, the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced on Tuesday.

By executive order of Sam Polles, the MDWFP executive director, all turkey hunting must cease until April 15 at Lake George, Sunflower and Twin Oaks WMAs. That includes any youth turkey hunts and permit-only hunts on those WMAs.

“The majority of Lake George, Sunflower, and Twin Oaks WMAs are covered with water,” said Chad Dacus, the MDWFP’s wildlife bureau director. “Many roads on each of these WMAs are underwater making for an unsafe situation. 

“The roads covered with water are closed to public use to protect the structure of the roads and for safety concerns. The prediction of rain over the next two days will most likely worsen the situation.”

With more heavy rains forecast this week, the MDWFP will continue to monitor the situation to determine if the season closure will need to be expanded, including the possibility that the turkey seasons on those WMAs will need to stay closed for the remainder of the season. The MDWFP has increased its law enforcement presence in the affected areas to promote public safety and to enforce wildlife laws.

Turkey hunter shot

In other outdoor news, a turkey hunter shot in the face by a partner in Carroll County Friday has been released from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he had been airlifted after the incident.

According to a report in The Clarion-Ledger, an MDWFP investigator said that it appears to have been a case of a hunter mistaken for game.

Lt. Chris Reed said that Curtis L. Entrekin, 63, of Madison was hunting with friend Charles G. Childs, 69, of Brandon, when Entrekin said he shot Childs.

Reed said the two had hunted together that morning, got separated and the victim was returning to the area where they had parted when he was shot. Reed said Childs was walking along a logging road, up a hill, when the shooter saw what he thought was a turkey.

The officer said that when Entrekin realized what he had done, he rendered aid and called for help. After being airlifted to UMMC, doctors removed 26 pellets from Childs’ face and neck area.

Reed said the investigation continues. No charges have been filed.

Louisianan cited in poaching case

Charges have been filed in another case that officers from MDWFP and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries worked in unison. Joshua Seal, 24, of Angie, La., was cited on March 23 for alleged turkey hunting violations in Washington Parish. 

Seal was charged with criminal trespassing, taking a turkey during a closed season and failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations.

MDWFP agents notified LDWF that Seal was suspected of illegal hunting in Mississippi and Louisiana. LDWF agents conducted an investigation and according to their report, found that Seal had killed a turkey on March 19 on private land near Angie where he did not have permission to hunt. Louisiana's turkey season did not open until March 26.

LDWF’s report indicated that Seal then took the bird into Mississippi, where turkey season was open, in an effort to make it appear the bird was legally harvested. MDWFP officers found him in Mississippi, and contacted the LDWF and the investigation was started.

Killing a turkey out of season in Louisiana carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Criminal trespassing carries a $100 to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. 

Seal may also face civil restitution of $1,539 for the replacement value of the illegally taken turkey.