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Slow turkey hunting continues in chilly spring weather

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Phil DiFatta, Hattiesburg American Outdoors Columnist
Published 6:35 p.m. CT April 12, 2018

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During our last meeting of this Weekly Mistake, I mentioned I was tickled to have gotten a nice gobbler on opening day. But since then, my turkey hunting has gone to the dogs.

Yep, things have only gotten worse. As if it wasn’t bad enough that hunting, for me, had gone to the dogs, now it’s gone to pot. No, I don’t mean “pot” as in marijuana or weed, I mean “pot” as in where you go to potty!

The turkeys, what few I had in the first place, seem to have all but disappeared. I suppose I could blame it on the unseasonably cold spring because, heck, I even used a couple of those chemical hand warmers last weekend to keep my trigger finger from getting numb. It was downright chilly, with my thermometer reading 39 degrees (Never have been a fan of global warming…)

Nonetheless, as a rule, a cool snap in the spring will shut down the gobbling, but it almost always picks up even stronger when warmer, more pleasant days roll around. It hasn’t happened that way for me this year, even on the few warm, sunny days, and I’m hearing a lot of the same from veteran turkey hunters.  

What to do?

Well, I really can’t say what will work. Otherwise, I would have already done it. It’s for sure my birds have gone silent, or they have moved on. The weather may have caused the birds to shut up. Then again, it could be an abundance of predators, as mentioned last week. After all, would you announce your whereabouts if you knew something out there would hunt you down and eat you? I would hope not!

Look to open fields for birds. I don’t know, but I figure turkeys feel safer when they can see predators coming from a long distance. I stepped out on the porch of my house in rural Lamar the other night to a serenade of coyotes, so I need not hunt near home. Coyotes are, more or less, nocturnal but often still hunting early mornings or beginning to move about just before dark. So you might want to try hunting midday. Also, other than avoiding predators, turkeys hit the fields in search of tasty bugs and fresh sprouts.

Look for strut zones. If the toms aren’t doing much gobbling to attract hens, for whatever reason, they will create strut zones, usually in fields or other clearings, where they strut and drum to coax willing hens to them.

Scout

I reckon if all else fails, you’ll just have to put on your walking shoes and scout. Yeah, yeah, I know you’re supposed to do that before the season. But if the season is passing you by, what have got to lose, other than maybe a few pounds? Besides, turkeys move roosting sites often this time of year because food sources change, and also because hens must find suitable nesting areas.

I could go on and on about the things you could do, but all 10 of my typing thumbs are getting tired, and I’m sure my two readers are getting weary of reading this stuff. Next week I think I’ll touch on one turkey tip that has to do with frogs. That’s what I said, frogs.

Until then, be safe in Mississippi’s great outdoors. And when you go, try to take a kid with you … every time you can.

Turkey survey

Turkey hunters with an interest in helping the conservation and management of their favorite game bird can aid the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks by acting as the Department’s on-the-ground eyes and ears. Participation in the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey (SGHS) gives hunters a chance to collect data used to track populations and evaluate management decisions.

Participation is free and only requires a few minutes after each hunt. Hunters interested in becoming involved can enroll online at www.mdwfp.com/turkey, or by calling 601-432-2199.



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