Spring turkey hunting season opens today

Turkey decoys sit on the shelf for sale at the Oktibbeha County Co-op
By: 
LOGAN KIRKLAND
Starkville Daily News

Spring turkey season officially begins today, gobbling up Mississippians’ weekend activities for the next few weeks.

The spring turkey season starts March 15 and will end on May 1. The bag limit during the turkey season is one adult gobbler, or one gobbler with a 6-inch or longer beard per day and only three per spring season.

The legal shooting hours for resident game are 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. The legal shooting hours for migratory birds are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

Raccoon, fox, opossum, beaver and bobcats may be legally hunted at night, with or without the use of a light and with dogs except during the spring turkey season

As for using hunting dogs, hunting turkey with dogs is prohibited. During the spring turkey season, it is illegal to run dogs in areas where the turkey season is open, except in permitted enclosures.

Conservation officers will be looking at both firearm safety and checking if a hunter is in compliance.

A hunter should treat their firearm as if it is loaded, control the muzzle of the firearm by pointing it in a safe direction, handle the firearm with both hands while keeping their finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard and listen to the commands directed by the officer.

GEAR AND TIPS

Sales staff member of the Oktibbeha County Co-op Kyle Jackson said the main pieces of equipment a hunter needs for turkey season in terms of gear are turkey calls, a turkey vest and a decoy.

The different types of calls include mouth calls, slate calls, box calls, crow calls and owl calls.

Jackson said hunters usually use the owl call to prompt the turkey to provide its location without scaring it away.

“You can hoot to them a little bit and it kind of shocks them,” Jackson said. “It’ll make them gobble to you.”

Jackson said although using calls is crucial, having decoys is an important factor in getting the turkey closer to the hunter.

He said because turkeys have a great sense of sight and sound, the hunter has to sound appealing enough for the turkey to leave the area where it could be with a hen.

“You’ve got to sound good enough to make him actually want to leave the females and come to you,” Jackson said. “They can see so well, they’re looking when they’re coming through the woods and if they don’t see a decoy, they kind of think, where’s the bird at?”

Assistant Manager of the Oktibbeha County Co-op Rodney Kendrick said out of all the calls, most people use the mouth calls.

He said it can be difficult to master, but with enough practice, anyone can.

“See how these guys that are doing it that have been out there,” Kendrick said. “It’s really involved as far as reading body language and reading how they’re calling,”

Kendrick said he recommends people to watch videos on YouTube to see how the hunters call and respond to the turkeys when it calls back.

Kendrick said not to be discouraged if those starting out scare off a turkey, because it is possible to over call or not get the call just right.

“You’re going to spook some birds, it doesn’t matter how good of a caller you are,” Kendrick said.

As for a firearm, Kendrick said the standard is a 12-gauge shotgun. He said the popular ammunition brands are Winchester Long Beard and HEVI-Shot.

He said those who are looking for a challenge during turkey season often use bows. He said this is more difficult because it requires the bird to get closer, and there is a large amount of movement that goes into loading.

As for licenses, Kendrick said Oktibbeha County Co-op sells all of the licenses for hunting and fishing. He said those who typically hunt turkeys also hunt deer, so they should have a valid licenses for the spring turkey season.

MISSISSIPPI TURKEY RECORDS

Longest beard:
17.25 held by Monty Roberts

Spur length:
1.88 held by Don Marascalo

Weight:
26.25 held by David Evans

Total score:
85.98 held by Tony Moak

All records were pulled from the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website.

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