Too many hunters quit long before May 1’s official closing of Mississippi’s spring season, which is a mistake others say since some of the best hunting is in the final two weeks.
“My favorite time is the last week of April and even that last day on May 1,” said Ronnie Bourne of Meridian. “If I had to choose between giving up the first six or seven weeks of the season or the last week, I don’t know what I’d do. That’s how much I like it.”
Bourne said his preference is affected by competition. There isn’t nearly as much in the final days, either from other hunters or from those hunt-ruining hens.
“I promise you this, if I can get a gobbler to gobble that late in the season, my chances of killing that bird are far greater — I bet over 50 or 60 or even 70 percent better — than any other time,” he said. “It’s never a dead-solid cinch — it is still turkey hunting — but the competition is removed, with the big thing being the natural competition from hens. They’ve gone to nest.
“And I don’t have to compete with a lot of hunters, even on public land. Most people have quit or don’t like being out there in the heat and around snakes, and some have just gotten tired of getting up so freaking early every day, and some have limited out. The best five turkeys I’ve killed in my life, and I mean the old long-bearded, limb-hanging old cantankerous toms that seem impossible to kill, I’ve gotten in the last week of the season.”
Bourne said he often puts off those kinds of birds early in the season, works on other gobblers, and then gets back on the tricky ones in the final days.
“I don’t care how mean the old bird is, once he’s had a bunch of hens bow to his desires, he isn’t able to resist one more woman,” he said. “That’s when I think they are most vulnerable.”
John Thomas of Southaven always plans his offshore work schedule so he’s home the last weeks.
“I’ve always felt that late April was the best, but the trick is finding a gobbler who will still gobble when he’s on the ground,” Thomas said. “A lot will gobble on the roost, but then fly down and never make another sound. If I can get him to gobble, I know I’m going to get a chance to work him.
“I don’t call as aggressively late in April, at least not after I have him gobbling and talking to me. I am aggressive in loud yelps and cuts to locate one, but then I get coy and shut it down. I’m playing to his desires. If he thinks I’m an anxious hen looking to mate, he might hold his ground. Once I got him gobbling, I want him to come looking for me.”