Turkey season opens Friday

High water could impact Delta hunters

After a successful week of youth-only hunting, Mississippi’s regular spring turkey season opens Friday to hunters of all ages. It will continue through May 1.

“If what I’ve been hearing and reading about in the youth season holds up, we could have a really nice turkey season in Mississippi,” said Ray Jenkins of Hattiesburg, a veteran member of the gobbler-chasing legion. “My network of hunters is statewide and I’m hearing good things from most areas.

“The Delta hunters could have a tough time, especially in the South Delta, because of the high floodwaters from the Mississippi River and its tributaries. That’s a shame, too, because everything I’ve heard is that they saw a lot of jakes up there last season and then had another good hatch last summer. When I hunted up there last year, we saw a lot of jakes and between three of us killed four gobblers. It was the best I’d seen in the Delta in years. I hope this flooding doesn’t ruin it for them.”

Flooding has already impacted the season in the Delta. It was announced Tuesday that one of the state’s most popular public hunting areas, the Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge had cancelled its season due to high water.

According to Amy Blaylock, the Wildlife Bureau Director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, only two state-owned wildlife management areas in the South Delta have turkey seasons:

* Twin Oaks WMA’s season is scheduled to open March 30.

* Sunflower WMA has split seasons, April 2-15 and April 16-May 1.

Blaylock said seasons at both of the WMA’s will likely be cancelled “unless the water drops quickly.”

As for private land, Blaylock said no restrictions had been placed on private land hunting “as of now.”

Most of Mississippi should expect at least a fair season, because as MDWFP turkey program coordinator Adam Butler put it, “it appears that turkeys are on the upswing almost the entirety of Mississippi.”

The season runs through May 1 statewide. The limit is one mature gobbler per day, three per season for hunters aged 16 and over. The limit for hunters aged 15 and under is one gobbler of any age per day, three per season.

The 2019 season is Mississippi’s first with a mandatory harvest report. Called Game Check, the new regs require that a hunter carry a harvest report card on his or her person while hunting. Any kills must be immediately written into the harvest report card and then reported to MDWFP by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest. A harvest confirmation number will be provided to include on the harvest report card.

The MDWFP has an app available through Apple, Google and Android app stores that simplify the process.

About Bobby Cleveland 1342 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.