Kids get first shot at gobblers

Hunters under age 16 get a head start on their adult brethren this month as spring wild turkey season arrives in the Magnolia State.
Hunters under age 16 get a head start on their adult brethren this month as spring wild turkey season arrives in the Magnolia State.

Harvey Graham still considers the youth turkey season, now over a decade old in Mississippi, as the best blessing adult hunters ever received.

“It is in my book, because it gives me another week every year to do what I like doing, testing gobblers,” said Graham, 64, of Terry. “Look, I don’t have to carry a gun to have fun. For the past 30 years, I’ve called dozens and dozens of birds to other hunters, mostly kids and first-time adult hunters. It’s what I love doing more than anything else outdoors. I rarely kill one now, unless I’m backing up another hunter.”

Graham is so hooked by the sport that he chose it over deer hunting this year.

“My doctor told me last September I needed knee replacement surgery, and I could either do it before or after hunting season,” he said. “He was acting like timing the operation to allow for deer season was what mattered. I let him know real quick that wasn’t a consideration. I asked him, ‘if we do this next week (mid September), could I be full speed by March 8?’

“He said I could if I did all the rehab. ‘Don’t you worry about that,’ is what I told him, and I was serious. I didn’t hunt one day during deer season, but I didn’t miss a single day of rehab, and I will be ready by the start of youth season. I’ve got to be; my dance card is full. I’ve got five kids lined up that week. It coincides with spring break for most of the schools here.”

Only children ages 15 or younger can shoot during the youth season. A child at least 12 years of age and under 16 years of age must have a certificate of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class to hunt alone during the season.

All youth that have not completed a class must be in the presence of and under the direct supervision of a licensed or exempt hunter at least 21 years old while hunting. The licensed adult hunter must hold a valid license for the species being hunted.

All youths must participate in the new mandatory Game Check program for reporting harvested gobblers, including carrying the required harvest report card. The adult may carry the youth’s harvest report card during the hunt.

Mississippi spring turkey seasons

  • Youth only: March 8-March 14. Only hunters aged 15 and under can shoot gobblers, but licensed (or exempt) adults can participate in all other phases of the hunt.
  • Regular: March 15-May 1.
  • Limits: One (1) adult gobbler or one gobbler with a 6-inch or longer beard per day, 3 per spring season. Hunters 15 years of age and younger may harvest 1 gobbler of choice (any age, beard length) per day, 3 per spring season.
About Bobby Cleveland 1341 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.