Hens will be laying, nesting very soon as season progresses
Gobblers are very vocal at this phase of Mississippi’s spring turkey season. At first light or shortly thereafter, they’re hammering the woods. Once they fly down and collect some hens, gobbling tapers off. They’ll still answer an occasional owl, crow or hen call; hunters can get a shock gobble throughout the morning from locator calls. Intermittent gobbling can be heard most of the day with some brief intense periods of “gobbling frenzy” occurring.
Mississippi turkeys are at the stage of the season when hens are quickly coming to gobblers after they leave the roost. Unlike the opening week of the season when small groups of gobblers would come in to hunters, they’re holding tight because the hens are coming to them. Some older gobblers are staying on the roost, gobbling, until they see a hen walking up, then they’ll pitch down to her.
“I’d say that most mature toms are gobbling on the limb good,” said hunter Clint Gerald of Copiah County. “When they hit the ground and have a hen or two with them — they’re done. They are not coming to you.”
Recently, most gobblers that have been responsive to hunters or slipping in silently have been jakes and 2-year-old, subordinate gobblers. Hunters are seeing a lot of them, too.
“It must have been a really good hatch last year,” said veteran hunter Shane McCullough. “I’ve hunted Lincoln, Jefferson and Copiah counties, and I am seeing jakes everywhere I go. There will be groups of them come in to my calling.”
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ 2019 turkey report, this time last season, the gobbling was at its peak or the peak of gobbling was past. According to many hunters, this assessment is spot on.
Turkeys are starting to make a transition as most hens start laying eggs. They’ll be leaving the gobblers throughout the morning, laying and tending to the nest for about an hour. Once a nest has six or more eggs however, the hen will sit on the average almost six hours.
This means hunters can look forward to what most call “the peak” of turkey season. It’s coming quickly, and it’s inevitable. Late-morning hunts will become productive as gobblers will be lonely and seeking out hens. Afternoon and evening hunting should become more effective and fruitful.
Hunting fields has been a little slow lately due to the lingering cold weather, but this is also changing with the onset of warmer weather. Some groups of turkeys have been frequenting fields for grasses and clover, and that activity will increase with more insects moving in.
“I look for grasshoppers jumping and slugs lying in logging roads,” Gerald said. “When I start to see larger groups of crows on the ground in my fields, I know it’s time to start hunting there.”
If you’re a public-land hunter, you should be aware there will be a sharp drop in pressure on most Wildlife Management Areas. Seasons are open in Louisiana and Arkansas, and fewer out-of-state hunters will be in the woods. As spring progresses, lots of sportsmen will abandon turkey hunting and opt for bass and crappie fishing — this is good news for die-hard turkey hunters.
According to the MDWFP’s turkey report, the last week of the 2018 season — April 26-May 1 — was a time of intense gobbling activity. Hunters should expect close to the same this year.
The very best of prime time Mississippi turkey hunting is almost here. If you’ve hoarded vacation time, it’s time to schedule it and get out in the woods. It’s time to hunt and hunt hard ‘til the end.