I hunted Louisiana Saturday with no luck, so I went to a good spot just over in Mississippi yesterday. I got a good gobbler and it was an interesting morning to say the least. I got to the area well before daylight and went in to set up. The gobblers were a bit deeper in than I had thought, so I ended up setting up on the edge of an open area. I had a good area to shoot, but I was kind of exposed. Sure enough, I started cutting and yelping and the gobblers started gobbling. Five big gobblers flew down and walked right up in my lap almost.
Getting this turkey Sunday was a lesson in perseverance!
I slowly raised my gun, picked out the biggest one and pulled the trigger. The shell just went “snap”. Holy Cow! There I was looking right at five big gobblers and my gun didn’t fire. Fortunately, only one of the turkeys saw me, but he eased off and the others followed. I put another shell in the gun and slipped around the edge of the cover. A few calls later, the turkeys came back out, but the one I wanted was at a maximum shooting distance — about 50 yards. My gun is patterned at 50, so it was no problem. I aimed and fired. And missed. Of course, they ran off. But it was in hilly terrain and I don’t think they exactly knew what had happened.
Believe it or not, I was able to make a loop and get in front of the turkeys. They crossed a little woods road and got on the same side as me. I thought I’d lost them, but a crow flew in and started “cawing”. The turkeys immediately started gobbling at the crow. The turkeys stayed hid for a while and I called and they gobbled and I called and they gobbled. Then, all of a sudden, the big gobbler strutted out and bang, this time I got him.
My adventure wasn’t over. I had worked my way quite a bit away from my Big Boy Buggy and walked back to get it. Naturally, it was up a big hill. And when I finally got there and headed back, I hit something and broke the front axle. I had a four mile walk back to camp to get a four-wheeler and some help.
What a day! It would have been a disaster, but I got the gobbler. That made it all worthwhile. Well, almost.
John Hanks spends more time talking turkey than most. That’s because it is his job. As Private Land Biologist Supervisor for the North Mississippi Alluvial Valley Area with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Monroe, he keeps up with everything turkey in a 12-parish area.
Based on information that he and others in Louisiana have collected over the past 12 months, he says the outlook for the coming turkey season is pretty good. That is based on poult (young turkey) counts from the past year.
“Our poult counts this year showed that, for the most part, the poults per hen (PPH) count was around 1.7. Average is around 2.0,” Hanks said. Poult counts are done over the summer by volunteers, LDWF professionals and people on the roads and in the woods a lot (like UPS drivers, postmen, landowners, etc.). They make notes when they see turkeys. They aren’t totally accurate, but give a good overall picture.
There are good areas for turkeys and bad areas. And there are great areas, too. The map below shows the official reported turkey kills from last year. Not all turkeys killed are reported, but it gives a good picture. Dry parishes with lots of hardwoods are obviously the best turkey areas.
The good news is that the long, wet winter hasn’t stressed turkey populations. There was a bumper crop of acorns this year. There was also a mild summer last year that gave an ample supply of berries, nuts, seeds, insects and other turkey foods. So there’s a good chance that the poult count next year will be better than this one.
I’ve killed a lot of turkeys and called up a lot of turkeys, and I still just about pass out when I’m getting to shoot one. It’s that exciting. Only a turkey hunter knows what I’m talking about. If you haven’t ever tried it, you should. If you do turkey hunt, you know what I mean.
Really, turkey hunting is my favorite kind of hunting. I started with I was 15 or 16 and fell in love with it pretty fast. When you locate turkeys and one comes gobbling toward you and is about to pop up at any second, it just doesn’t get any better than that. If your heart isn’t pounding and you aren’t shaking, you must be dead.
It’s an awful lot like a combination of deer hunting and duck hunting. You set up and get the turkey to come to you by calling. You have to be still and quiet, but you have to be right on with the call.
Turkey season in Louisiana opens March 28 and runs through April 26 in our area. I’ll be there. I hope you get to as well. If we can help you with anything, from equipment to tips on how to get started, come by and see us. That’s why we are here.
It appears that the long, wet winter even has the turkeys a bit sluggish this spring. The turkey season in Mississippi opened up last weekend and hunters reported that the cold weather and rain have the turkeys a little behind where they normally would be.
They are gobbling, but mostly at each other, and aren’t really interested in the hens right now. With a few weeks of warm weather, that should change. Hopefully that will happen before the Louisiana season opener on March 18. Turkey season in Texas opens April 4. Turkey hunters do travel a lot to hunt and so we’ll be giving reports from area states as well as Louisiana this spring.
Make sure you take time to get your gear in order now. Don’t wait until the season is about to start. And as always, keep safety at the forefront of everything you do outdoors.
As I said, when we have a few pretty days and the woods start to green up a bit, we’ll start seeing and hearing more turkeys. And we’ll be talking about it right here. Stay tuned.
The statewide Youth Turkey and Physically Challenged Season on private lands is this weekend, March 21-22, the week prior to the statewide turkey season.
Only youths 17 or younger may hunt. Youths must be accompanied by one adult 18 years of age or older.
Youths must possess a hunter safety certification or proof of successful completion of a hunter safety course. If the accompanying
adult has proof of successful completion of a hunter education course or was born before September 1, 1969 and has a valid hunting license, this requirement is waived for youths younger than 16 years of age.
Adults may not possess a firearm. Youths may possess only one firearm while hunting. The supervising adult shall maintain visual and voice contact with the youth at all times. EXCEPT properly licensed youths 16-17 years old and youths 12 years old or older who have successfully completed a hunter safety course may hunt without a supervising adult.
Check the Louisiana Hunting Regulation guide to make sure you know all the rules and regulations and follow them. That is a personal responsibility of each hunter.
Only one gobbler per day may be taken and any gobbler taken by the hunter during the special season counts towards their seasonal bag limit of two.
Welcome to the new Simmons’ Turkey Report! Louisiana’s turkey season opens Saturday, March 28 and I’m excited to let you know that this will be the site of Simmons’ Turkey Report, a feature to share information and up-to-the minute reports on turkey hunting in our region. The site will be updated three to four times a week. Stay tuned!
We will be sharing hunters’ reports from the field; tips on turkey hunting and lots of other information. In the meantime, here’s the basic info on the upcoming season.
Here are the 2015 season dates for Louisiana:
Area A: March 28 – April 26*
Area B: March 28 – April 19*
Area C: March 28 – April 12*
*Youth & Physically Challenged Hunt (Areas A , B , and C on private land only): March 21-22 *Seasons Open in Areas A, B and C, on private lands only. See separate WMA and Federal Lands Schedules for season dates on those areas.
*For more details on the 2015 turkey season, refer to the 2014-15 Louisiana Hunting Regulations.
Louisiana has some fantastic turkey hunting, as do most of our surrounding states. No matter where you hunt, we hope you’ll drop by and stock up on all your turkey hunting needs and the latest info on the season right here at Simmons’ Sporting Goods.
— Jeff Simmons