Expectations high for turkey season

Turkey season in Mississippi started this week.
Turkey season in Mississippi started this week. Sun Herald File

Turkey season in Mississippi opened this week. It will end May 1.

The bag limit for the season is one adult gobbler with at least a 6-inch beard each day, not to exceed three during the season. Youth hunters may harvest one gobbler of choice a day, not to exceed three for the season.

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks officials anticipate a stronger turkey season than last year’s. Turkey numbers also were low in 2015.

Last year, Spring turkey season was closed in Coahoma, Quitman, and Sunflower counties.

Turkey populations in portions of north and central Mississippi are on an upward trend following successive years of good hatches.

In the southern part of the state, numbers are still not at levels hunters enjoyed from previous years. But reports from the field indicate a turnaround may have begun.

Early-spring weather has seemingly primed gobbling activity, which should lead to a fast and furious start to the 2017 season in areas of sufficient populations.

Spur lengths determine the age of a harvested gobbler. Spur lengths are classified into four categories based on the longer of the two spur measurements for each. Spurs less than a half-inch long are classified as jakes or 1-year-old gobblers. Lengths between  1/2 inch and 1 inch are generally 2 years old. Gobblers with spurs of 1 to 1 1/4 inch are considered 3 years old. Birds with spur lengths over 1 1/4 inch are considered 4 and older.

The MDWFP encourages turkey hunters to voluntarily report their harvests this spring through a new online system at www.mdwfp.com/turkeyharvest.

“While we are not legally requiring hunters to do so at this time,” MDWFP’s Wild Turkey Program Coordinator Adam Butler said, “we strongly encourage hunters to begin using our new system to become familiar with the concept.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones