Mississippi’s best turkey hunting is ahead

Big, lonesome gobblers are ready to answer hunters’ calls as Mississippi’s turkey season reaches the halfway point.

Three weeks of turkey hunting are behind Mississippi hunters by the time April 1 arrives, but the bulk of the season remains, including what many call the best part.

“I don’t even start until the first week of April,” said Ryan Jacobson of Madison. “I know that the 2019 Harvest Report System that was mandatory for the first time showed that half of the birds killed last year were killed in March. What it doesn’t show is how old those birds were. My guess is that the vast majority of those birds killed early were 2-year-olds, plus some jakes killed by kids.

“Mature trophy birds are a lot easier to kill in April, after they have serviced most of the hens in their flocks. Don’t get me wrong; killing older birds is never easy, but it’s dang near impossible to kill them while they are henned up. You let them get past that stage, and it’s a lot easier to get their attention, and if you can’t get their attention you aren’t going to call one in. You might can ambush one, but you can’t call them away from the real hens.”

Less hunters

Jimmy Rankin of Vicksburg takes it a step further.

“I prefer April because we can get a lot of the yahoos out of the way,” Rankin said. “By that, I mean the casual or average hunter who usually settles for a young bird or gets frustrated by the lack thereof and goes home. And then there’s those hunters who start chasing spawning crappie in April and quit.

“It’s a lot easier and more productive to hunt when the woods have less hunters, and I’m not just talking about public land, either. Even at clubs like mine — we have about 40 members, and about half of them turkey hunt. But of the 20 or so who do turkey hunt, I bet you only five or six of us hunt all the way through the season. I learn about the old birds by listening to the reports of the other hunters who get frustrated by those contrary toms.”

Mississippi’s season ends May 1.

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1253 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.

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