In This Issue
VOL. 6 NO. 75
Dealing With Henned-Up Gobblers Broadheads for Turkey Hunting Game Cams for Gobblers How to Bait Wild Turkeys Creating Openings for Wild Turkeys Wild Turkey Facts Outdoor Truths MDWFP News Fishing Reports Solunar Tables
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Shown in this photo is a hen turkey with a beard, which is very rare. Follow us on Facebook Hillcountry Outdoor Magazine/Dean Wells
Bucks To Beards
Dean Wells Editor
Today I walked out to my truck, cracked the door and stepped back in awe at what I saw. Every year its always the same and but it never begins that way. I’m talking about how the inside of my truck appears from the transition from deer to turkey season. I’ve seen inside the trucks of some hunters, and I truly believe they are imposters. I once heard that Henry Ford would not hire a person until he had a look inside their vehicle. If it was clean they made it to the next level, if not he moved on. What that has to do with this article I don’t know, but I thought I would throw it in for good measure. Anyway, if you should dare to look inside my vehicle today before my cleanup, here is what you would find; 3 box’s of glow tacks 1 roll of surveyors tape 1 roll of toilet paper 3 walkie talkies 1 knife 5 tooth picks 3 flash lights 3 deer rifles 1 huntingseasons.com 5/00 buckshot 3” mag. 2 empty WalMart bags 2 flat honey buns 4 empty water bottles ½ Mountain Dew 1 small bottle mouthwash 1 pkg melted gum 4 different issues of Mississippi Hill Country Outdoors Magazine 1 rope 1 roll of grey duck tape 1 clothes hanger 5 pop up ground blinds 2/5 gallon buckets 3 folding chairs 1 pack of nabs (last year) 4 winter coats 1 phone charger 3 radio chargers 1 light charger 2 5 gal spin feeders 1 rechargeable (dead) search light 1 rain coat 1 rain suit 1 pair of house shoes 3 empty styrofoam coffee cups 3 pens 1 pencil $5 in change 1 partial tube of Preparation H 1 church bulletin 1 box of nails 2 claw hammers 1 empty coffee can 1 skinning knife 1 machete 1 pair of loppers 1 tracking antenna and collar 1 box of skinning gloves 1 pint of power steering fluid 1 funnel 1 rusty fish hook 1 gambrel
1 gambrel 1 Christmas card 1 Christmas present I forgot to give (will not say to who) 1 pair of wire cutters 1 old flea collar 1 dog leash 1 pair of gloves that match 1 pair that do not match 1 tree air freshener 1 bathroom towel 1 stiff bath cloth that smells horrific ½ bottle of Tink’s the other half leaked down in the defrost vent with the skunk scent from last year and the sow in heat 1 tube of boot repair 1 empty pizza box 1 Burger King bag 4 pieces of clear reynolds wrap 3 smelly socks, 1 of which isn’t mine. 1 map of a place I never went 1 pair of sunglasses 1 pair of broke sunglasses 1 pair of reading glasses 1 pk AA batteries 1 empty pack of AA batteries ½ pack of AAA batteries 1 broke lanyard 1 empty lanyard 1 hog call 1 deer grunt 2 toboggans 4 caps 1 gun case 1 ladder stick 2 rubber bands 1 dew rag 1 chilly pad Floor mats with 5 pounds of dirt (mine) Floor mat with 1 pound of dirt (passenger) After 4 hours of sorting and cleaning, now it’s time to get ready for crappie fishing and turkey hunting. I always have what it takes to do both in the truck at any given time, should the opportunity present itself. Last year, I left all of it in the truck, but I decided it may be hurting my gas mileage. I wouldn’t want Obama and the democrats to call me on my increase in fuel consumption. I really wish I could get all my stuff in a “green” car, but since I would have to pull two trailers, it would get worse fuel mileage than my old Yukon. When the weekend arrives me and my little wife will make a few rendezvous’ to eat somewhere in Ole White Cloud and often Anne just sits speechless and leers in disbelief, at all the things that have found a home in my truck. I just smile as she stares and say, ”tools for the job baby, tools for the job”.
Dealing With Henned-Up Gobblers by Gary Clancy
The most common problem we turkey hunters experience is dealing with henned-up gobblers. “Henned-up” by the way, just in case you are new to turkey hunting, is just a turkey hunter’s way of describing a gobbler with hens. As in “I would have had that old boy, but then he went and got himself all henned-up and that-was-that.” The problem is simple. A gobbler already in the company of a hen or multiple hens, really has no reason to come to your call. And no, it really does not matter how well you call. It has been my good fortune to have hunted with many of the best turkey callers in the nation, and even these guys can only very, very rarely convince a gobbler to leave his hens and come to their calling.
Dealing with henned-up gobblers would not be such a big deal if it were not so gosh-darn common. But in a week of turkey hunting, it is not unlikely that most of the gobblers you will see or hear are already with hens. So it is not like this is just one of those problems where you can say, “Oh well, I’ll just go find a gobbler, which is all by his lonesome.” I’ve hunted turkeys an awful lot over the years and I have lost track of the number of days when every single bird I saw or heard was with hens. Dealing with henned-up gobblers is just one of those things that a turkey hunter is going to have to learn how to do if he or she hopes to be consistently successful. Here are the best ways I know of dealing with this common problem.
Henned-Up On The Roost
This is not a good way for a turkey hunter to start the day. When a gobbler is roosted with hens, he will simply pitch down with the hens and then follow them wherever they lead him. How do you know if a gobbler is roosted with hens? Usually, you will hear the hens softly yelping when they first wake up in the morning. Sometimes, if I have put the gobbler to bed and he was in the company of hens when I last saw him, I assume those hens will be roosted near him. If I suspect that a gobbler is roosted with hens, I will try to sneak in as close as I can while the birds are still roosted. The only real chance you have right off of the roost is to get in close and then start doing some excited yelping as soon as it is light enough to shoot. Sometimes you can entice that gobbler to fly down right into your lap. I’ll warn you now, that you are going to bump some birds off of the roost when you are trying to get in within 60- or 70 yards of them. But I figure it is worth the chance, because even if I do flush the gobbler, there is a chance that he will fly off in a different direction than the hens. Then you have a gobbler out there who figured he had a sure deal for the morning and is now left all alone. When this happens, I’ll move as fast as I can towards the gobbler and try to get him gobbling with crow calls or excited cutting. If you get to him before his hens do, you have an excellent chance.
Talk Back To The Hens
If you can get one of the hens mad enough to come looking for you, she will drag the gobbler with her. The best way to do this is to mimic exactly what the hens says. If she yelps three times, you yelp three times right back at her. Then when you really have her going, cut her off in mid-sentence. They really hate that. If you can keep her talking, she will get irritated with your “back-talk” and come looking for you.
Sometimes the best way to deal with a gobbler with hens is to pull an ambush. This is where being familiar with the ground you are hunting really pays off. If you know that the gobbler and his girls are headed for an open gate, a certain creek crossing, a small field, or an old field road for instance, you can get around ahead of them, set up an ambush and wait. OK, I’ll admit that an ambush is not as fun as calling them to you, but sometimes, it is the only way to get the job done.
Jake And Hen Decoys
For many years I hunted over either a single hen decoy or a pair of hens. I can count on one hand the number of times a gobbler would leave his real hens to come to my fakes. But since I have changed to a jake and hen set-up, I’ve had pretty good luck pulling a gobbler away from his hens. I’m guessing that when a gobbler see’s a jake with a hen, jealously rears its ugly head. The gobbler just can’t stand the idea of a good looking lady like that hanging out with a mere teenager, so he comes over to kick a little butt and take care of the problem. I’ve used full-strut, half-strut and erect position jake decoys and all seem to work, but I’m partial to the half-strut position. In fact, my taxidermist buddy Larry Lawrence just mounted a jake in half-strut for me and I’m betting that when I place that jake decoy alongside the hen Larry did for me a few years ago, that even a gobbler with a harem of hens will find the set-up hard to resist. I’ll let you know how it works.
Leave Them And Come Back Later
If a gobbler is out in the middle of a big field parading around a bevy of feeding hens, it might be hours before they get back into the woods where you have a chance of working them. When I find myself in this situation, I just leave them and go looking for other turkeys. But I don’t forget about them, and I’ll come back in an hour or so and check on them. Maybe by then they will have fed across the field and be nearing a position where I will have a chance to decoy them in or ambush them. A henned-up gobbler is tough to deal with -- there is no getting around that -- but they are not impossible. Be patient, bide your time and don’t try to rush things. Turkeys are not in any hurry. We should not be either when dealing withhenned-up gobblers.
BROADHEADS FOR TURKEY HUNTING
by Bob Robb
If you bowhunt turkeys, which do you chose—an old-school, replaceable-blade broadhead, or new school mechanical head? Last spring, I killed four gobblers with a Hoyt Carbon Element set at a tick under 70 pounds; my shafts were tipped with both mechanical and replaceable-blade broadheads. I wanted to see for myself if there was any real difference in terminal performance. I killed two birds with the same 100-grain Thunderhead with which I have killed countless big-game animals, then used a 100-grain, 3-blade New Archery Products Gobbler Getter mechanical on two. In only one instance did a bird run more than 50 yards after the shot. As I travel around the country during turkey season I see more and more archers loading up with mechanical heads. Popular choices include the Swhacker; Rage; G5 Tekan and Tekan II; New Archery Products Spitfire, Scorpion XP, Shockwave and Gobbler Getter; Wasp Jackhammer SST; Mar-Den Vortex; Rocket Steelhead XL, Ultimate Steel, Miniblaster, and Meat Seeker; Game Tracker First Cut EXP and Silvertip; G-5 F-15 Dual Blade; Grim Reaper Razortip and Razorcut SS; Cabela’s Lazer Strike and Aftershock Archery HyperShock and the like—all good choices. Those who like to go radical have been shooting the Gobbler Guillotine from Arrowdynamic Solutions, which is designed to literally take a bird’s head right off. Broadhead weight is not important, except in terms of how it affects the accuracy of your bow. Accurate arrow flight and razor-sharp blades are what’s important. Some bowhunters like to put a “stopper” behind their broadhead to inhibit penetration. The idea is that if the arrow shaft stays in the bird, it will both transfer 100 percent of its shocking power to the turkey, and, with the shaft still in the body cavity, it will be much more difficult for the turkey to flop or fly off before you can race out and pick him up. The Bateman Small Game Stopper, Zwickey Scorpio and Muzzy Grasshopper are three excellent products for this. After watching several archers shoot gobblers and with my own experiences, I have come to believe that both schools of thought are right. It all boils down to your own preferences and what you feel comfortable shooting. To be honest, it took me a long time before I was comfortable shooting anything with a mechanical broadhead. I still lean towards the proven performance of the Thunderhead when it comes to big-game hunting. This spring, though, for turkeys I am going with the NAP Gobbler Getter. I turned the poundage of one of my Hoyt big game bows down to about 65 pounds, then tuned it to shoot them like laser beams. Then, once turkey season is done for me and it is time to start chasing black bears, I’ll crank it back up to 70 pounds and get it tuned and dialed in with a 125-grain Thunderhead. Page 5
Game Cams for Gobblers
At its core, turkey hunting is simple: be in the right place at the right time. But sometimes there are a lot of right places. Trail cameras provide visual evidence to make your decisions clearer. You can you pattern a specific bird, learn when birds are traveling through a certain area and identify turkey travel patterns.
Tricks of the Trade Here are few suggestions to help you create a game plan from using trail cameras on your next hunt: Do a little footwork to start. Identify likely travel zones, roost areas, food sources, watering holes and strut zones. Search for clues that turkeys use these types of areas: droppings, scratches, wing marks, feathers and tracks, or maybe you have heard birds calling from an area. Set up cameras in these hot zones. Position your cameras low and straight. Turkeys aren’t as tall as deer, so place a camera only two feet above the ground. Point the laser straight, so the camera takes photos all the way out to maximum distance. Setting a camera high and angling it down will limit its field of view and reduce the number of birds you’ll “catch.” Take wide-area photos. Wide-angle shooting, and long range of capture, are key camera features. A camera that takes pictures over a large and deep area is ideal because it’s more likely to capture turkeys moving through. For example, you’ll want to see as much of a food plot or strut zone as possible. Set your cameras to take multiple photos in sequence. Once a camera is triggered, you want it to take a series of photos. Turkeys are always on the move, so this gives you a better chance of getting a good photo. Page 6
Use multiple cameras. Cameras help you scout multiple spots at once. Four to six cameras are ideal. After all, the goal is to select the best spot for your hunt, and monitoring several areas gives you the best chance for success. But even one camera can pay off. Check cameras often. Do low-impact scouting during the season by checking your game-cams during a typical mid-afternoon lull. Frequent pre-season checks are important, too. If you don’t see birds on a particular camera for a few days or a week, adjust the camera to a new angle or direction. Or move it and set up your surveillance in another area of interest. Keep a detailed turkey log. Log the dates, times and number of turkeys “shot” before, during and after the season. You’ll also want to know where turkeys are at other times of year. Keep your records updated every year; this could identify new hotspots.
Photographic Souvenirs Use a trail cam on your next turkey hunt to increase your odds for success and add more fun to the hunt. Who knows, you might get lucky and shoot the bird twice… once with your camera and a final time with your gun! A high-resolution color photo of your trophy gobbler in the woods would be priceless hanging next to his beard and spurs on your wall!
How To Bait Wild Turkeys
Public land gobbler that was roosted in an out of the way area on public land the evening before.
Well, bet I’ve got your attention now!
The baiting of wild turkeys with food is banned in all states with turkey populations unless you have a permit to capture and relocate turkeys or a depredation hunt.
However, what I have in mind and the method I use, particularly during the spring turkey huntAudio Baiting
It’s no secret turkeys are attracted by turkey “talk” and sounds made by other turkeys. After all, that is why most turkey hunters make or purchase several different styles of turkey calls. Some hunters have bought into the notion that turkeys become call shy and you should not call when you are not hunting. Unless you are a terrible caller and/or cause a big human disturbance entering and leaving the hunting area you will not scare or educate turkeys by making turkey sounds. By the way, some of the worst turkey calls I have ever heard came out of the beaks of turkeys. How it works The evening before your hunt decide where you would like a gobbler to be the next morning, the approximate area. The tom probably will not fly into the exact tree you desire but he may get close to it. The goal is to pull a wandering gobbler or two into the area you can hunt come morning. Locate a prominent open location where sounds you make will have the best chance of traveling the greatest distance possible. Trees, vegetation, and hills obstruct or absorb sound. Some unobstructed sound corridors are necessary. Another method is to move quietly along a trail audio trolling; picture floating a river casting in likely spots only you are using audio lures rather than fishing lures. Think of it as audio chumming.
If your season is open and it is legal take your gun on this setup just in case a gobbler shows, after all you are in a turkey woods that contains turkeys and you never know when one is going to show. At least a third of all my spring turkeys are taken late afternoon/early evening. After setting up start calling; using yelps, cackles, purrs and clucks; increasing the volume and intensity as sunset approaches. Guide your calling by imagining a couple of hens sparring with each other over the best roost trees. Of course as you call listen for an answering gobbler and if you hear one begin working him as you would during any other setup. Assuming you heard no turkeys going to roost understand this does not mean there are no turkeys in the immediate area. If you have no “for sure spot” to start in the morning get back to this last setup before gobbling time. Many times I hear the gobblers without doing anything else so all that remains to pick a good setup location and go about calling em in. If you don’t hear anything owl hoot or tree yelp and listen. Then proceed with your hunt in the usual manner. Late in Wisconsin’s 2012 spring turkey season a friend hunting in northern Wisconsin called me for advice about finding a turkey. He is a very experienced turkey hunter accustom to success all over the country. But he wanted to kill a turkey on his own property something that had eluded him for many years. He described gobblers roosting along the property line of his land but in the morning they promptly flew into the neighbor’s field, strutted and faded away. I suggested he audio bait as previously described in order to pull the turkeys deeper into his land in the hopes of then setting up between the turkeys and field. My grateful buddy called the next day with the happy news it worked. He had killed his first ever own land gobbler shortly after fly down and admitted he had thought I was crazy suggesting audio bait. Page 7
There’s a lot of fishing going on right now. I’ve heard stories from those catching bass, crappie, and walleye. It is the perfect time of the year for fishermen, no matter what species he is after. And just like other seasons, this one will pass as quickly as it arrived. While you can catch most types of fish all year long, there are certain times that are just better. Now is one of those times. Soon the walleye will move back into the lake, the crappie will slow down, and the bass will find their lethargic summer pattern. Until then the fishing will be fast and furious. For some non-fishermen, fast and furious and fishing seem like an oxymoron. An onlooker sees a boat anchored to a pile of brush and two fishermen sitting intently, yet motionless, waiting for something to happen on the other end of the rod they’re holding. This looks hardly like fast and furious. Another bystander sees more fishermen slowly trolling along with baited lines following along behind. The last way he would describe this scene would be fast and furious. Someone has said fishing is a jerk at one end waiting on a jerk at the other. They are partially right. Fishing is all about waiting, but for some reason our world equates waiting with inactivity. And some of us are still paying the price for this flawed definition. The truth is waiting is active. This activity, however, is not physical but mental. It is not passive but aggressive. And it is both defensive and offensive. A person who waits not only must be alert to their time to move but they must also fight the temptation to move too quickly. This happens all the time in fishing. If you try setting the hook too soon, you miss. If you delay too long, you miss as well. One must wait for the right time. In life the losses are greater than a missed fish. It can be a missed opportunity or it can be one’s saving grace. Most of the time we forge ahead when we should have waited, all because we thought waiting was inactivity. The Bible says, “Be still in the presence of the LORD and wait patiently for him to act.” God knows all the circumstances surrounding your life. He has never been in a hurry and He will never fail to give you clear instructions if you will seek Him. But He will do it in His time. Until then, actively wait, looking to Him for further instructions. It may be that His intentions are not only to bless you but to keep you from getting in a mess that may take years for you to get out of.
Toby Ann Bennett with wild boar.
Creating Openings For Wild Turkeys
By Dr. James Earl Kennamer
High quality wildlife openings provide critical habitat for young turkeys during the spring and summer and also enhance wild turkey winter habitat. Whether you are improving turkey habitat on your own property, a hunting club, or if you are involved with a NWTF chapter project, now is the time to create openings or rejuvenate existing ones. The presence of high quality wildlife openings can enhance your spring turkey hunting. Hens are attracted to these openings and bring gobblers with them. As a general rule, you should have three to five acres of wildlife openings for every 100 acres of forest. If your area lacks openings, you may need to create new ones. Conversely, existing openings need to be maintained. Your first step is to inventory existing openings. Aerial photographs, easily obtained at your county highway department or property assessor’s office, are indispensable tools for locating existing openings and access points for equipment. Aerial photographs and topographical maps are also handy for locating potential wildlife opening sites. Not all wildlife opening sites are created equal. Wildlife openings should be established where insect production will be the highest. Look for sites that have good soil moisture and fertility. Sites near streams and wetland areas are excellent as long as they aren’t too wet. Openings that become very dry during the early summer, or are low in fertility, usually will not promote succulent grass growth needed to attract an abundance of insects. Determine soil pH and fertility by testing the soil. Soil tests are simple and cost just a few dollars. Contact your local Natural Resource Conservation Service office or agricultural extension office for information on soil testing. If you cannot complete soil tests, a good rule of thumb is to add 250 pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer and one to two tons of lime per acre. Remember, fertilizer is your biggest expense to plant openings. The soil test will not only save you money, you will get optimum growth for your planting. Size and distribution of wildlife openings is another important consideration. Opening size should range from one-half acre to 10 acres. Choose an opening shape that maximizes edge effect on the field border. For example, long, linear openings are better than square openings of the same acreage because it creates more edge. Wildlife openings should also be well distributed across the area. Several small wildlife openings well distributed across the property will benefit more turkeys than one large opening. Openings should not be surrounded by dense cover. Make sure roads leading to openings don’t have thick brush along their edge. Thick brush will permit predators the opportunity to ambush young turkeys. In addition, create openings adjacent to mature forest with relatively open ground cover. Utilize existing roads, rights-of-way (ROW), and existing fields as wildlife openings. These already cleared areas can provide quality, cost effective sites for wildlife openings. Daylighting roads by removing trees along the road’s edge to allow more sunlight to reach the ground is usually necessary to enhance plant growth. ROWs that have the necessary site requirements (soil moisture, fertility, etc.) provide the ultimate linear wildlife opening and can be improved by planting legumes. Existing fields can be improved by planting strips of legumes and other beneficial plants along the perimeter. Again, select portions of the field, ROW, or pipeline that are adjacent to good turkey habitat and that have the proper soil conditions. Note: Obtain permission from ROW and pipeline owner before establishing openings.
Plant selection Legumes, such as clover, are excellent for enhancing openings and help create ideal brood habitat. Insects thrive in openings planted with legumes and their availability is critical to turkey poults. Insects are high in protein and make up more than 90 percent of a turkey poult’s diet, providing a source of food and water. A variety of perennial and annual clovers are available, including Redland II, alsike, ladino and white Dutch clover, and they will last several years with minimal maintenance. The reseeding annuals, such as crimson clover, will produce forage for up to six years if managed by mowing and light harrowing. Plant a variety of plants that supply turkeys with their year-round dietary needs for the most effective use of your time and money. For example, planting a mixture of winter wheat and clover during the fall will provide a winter food supply and excellent brood habitat the following spring. Several rows of corn, planted in early spring, provide excellent cover for poults during the spring, and if left standing through the winter, provide good winter food, especially in climates where deep snow prevails. Chufa is another excellent addition for providing winter food.
Rejuvenating old legume stands Reseeding annuals and perennials, such as crimson clover and Redland II clover, should be lightly harrowed every two to three years during August. Harrowing will cover the seed produced by the parent plants and allow germination and establishment of a new clover stand. Also, mow perennials in late summer and early fall to remove the taller plant species that shade out the smaller clovers. Remember, most clovers are cool season plants that flourish during the cooler months. Establishing and maintaining wildlife openings are important habitat management practices. Success results from proper planning and paying attention to detail. Selecting sites with the best soil conditions will yield more benefits to turkeys for your dollar and planting a variety of plants to meet both spring and winter needs will improve the year-round potential of wildlife openings. These efforts will pay dividends in a healthy turkey population for many years to come. Page 9
Wild Turkey Facts Imagine going on a turkey hunt only to find there are no wild turkeys! It sounds far fetched, but in the early 1930s this grand game bird was on the verge of extinction. But today, thanks to hunters and wildlife restoration programs, the wild turkey is abundant and thriving in its homeland. Wild turkeys are native to North America and there are five subspecies: Eastern, Osceola (Florida), Rio Grande, Merriam’s and Gould’s. All five range throughout different parts of the continent. The eastern is the most common and ranges the entire eastern half of the United States. The Osceola (Florida) is only found on the Florida peninsula, while the Rio Grande ranges through Texas and up into Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Rios are also found in parts of the northwestern states. The Merriam’s subspecies ranges along the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies of Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. And you can find Gould’s throughout the central portion of Mexico into the southernmost parts of New Mexico and Arizona. Between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers cover the body of an adult turkey in patterns called feather tracts. A turkey’s feathers provide a variety of survival functions – they keep him warm and dry, allow him to fly, feel and show off for the opposite sex. The head and upper part of the neck are featherless, but if you look close, you can see little bumps of skin on the bare area. Most of the feathers exhibit a metallic glittering, called iridescence, with varying colors of red, green, copper, bronze and gold. The gobbler, or male turkey, is more colorful, while the hen is a drab brownish or lighter color to camouflage her with her surroundings. Two major characteristics distinguish males from females: spurs and beards. Both sexes have long, powerful legs covered with scales and are born with a small button spur on the back of the leg. Soon after birth, a male’s spur starts growing pointed and curved and can grow to about two inches. Most hen’s spurs do not grow. Gobblers also have beards, which are tufts of filaments, or modified feathers, growing out from the chest. Beards can grow to an average of 9 inches (though they can grow much longer). It must also be noted that 10 to 20 percent of hens have beards. Wild turkeys have excellent vision during the day but don’t see as well at night. They are also very mobile. Turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph, and they can fly up to 55 mph. When mating season arrives, anywhere from February to April, courtship usually begins while turkeys are still flocked together in wintering areas. After mating, the hens begin searching for a nest site and laying eggs. In most areas, nests can be found in a shallow dirt depression, surrounded by moderately woody vegetation that conceals the nest. Hens lay a clutch of 10 to 12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. She will incubate her eggs for about 28 days, occasionally turning and rearranging them until they are ready to hatch. A newly-hatched flock must be ready to leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours to feed. Poults eat insects, berries and seeds, while adults will eat anything from acorns and berries to insects and small reptiles. Turkeys usually feed in early morning and in the afternoon.
wildlife restoration programs now have money to use to restore wild turkeys and wild turkey habitat. And with the invention of the rocket net, wildlife agencies and the NWTF can trap and transfer turkey populations to areas of suitable habitat.
Wild turkeys like open areas for feeding, mating and habitat. They use forested areas as cover from predators and for roosting in trees at night. A varied habitat of both open and covered area is essential for wild turkey survival.
From only 30,000 turkeys in the early 1900s to more than 7 million today, this intriguing species has truly made an awesome comeback.
Lack of quality habitat was a problem in the past, but with the passing of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, Page 10
MDWFP Update March 2014
Spring Turkey Season Outlook is Promising Turkey season is right around the corner, and many hunters are anxiously asking about what the upcoming season will hold. Fortunately, for turkey hunters, MDWFP biologists collect and analyze data which provides valuable information about what to expect. MDWFP’s data suggests that turkey hunting will be much better this spring than the tough season many hunters experienced last year. This optimistic prediction is based on an increase in juvenile gobblers (jakes) observed by hunters who participated in the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey during 2013. This increase in jake numbers came on the heels of a strong statewide turkey hatch in the summer of 2012, which boosted local populations throughout Mississippi. Gobblers hatched in 2012 will be two-year-olds this spring, and the swelling of their ranks should result in a substantial increase in gobbling activity. For turkey hunters in search of additional places to hunt, the MDWFP provides turkey hunting opportunities on 35 Wildlife Management Areas across the state, many of which offer quality, limited draw opportunities. Dates for the 2014 spring turkey season are March 15 - May 1, and the bag limit is one adult gobbler per day, three per season. For more information regarding wild turkeys in Mississippi and turkey hunting opportunities, visit our website at www.mdwfp.com/turkey or call us at (601) 432-2199.
Spring Start-Up Checklist The MDWFP urges boaters to check that their boat registration is current and that their registration number is present on their vessel. Boaters should inspect their Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for compatibility with U.S. Coast Guard requirements. MDWFP Conservation Officers patrol Mississippi’s waterways to ensure that boaters are safe and in compliance with state boat registration, boater education, and Personal Flotation Device (PFD) regulations. When approached by a Conservation Officer, boaters should: • Maintain their vessel’s current direction • SLOW DOWN their vessel • Let the Conservation Officer approach them. Do not approach the Conservation Officer. • Yield to all blue lights and sound devices • Secure all fishing equipment and gear
Improving Wildlife Habitat during the “Off-Season” Many sportsmen’s favorite habitat management practices correlate with their favorite hunting season, such as planting fall food plots for deer season. However, other habitat management practices performed during the “off season” are likely more important for meeting the needs of their favorite wildlife species.
2014 Youth Fishing Rodeo Schedule Finalized
Landowners interested in managing their forestland for wildlife and revenue should use the spring season to plan and execute timber harvests. Timber thinning improves residual tree vigor and promotes stand health. Thinning creates openings in the forest canopy that allow sufficient sunlight to reach the ground, stimulating desirable plants that provide food and cover for many species of wildlife.
The MDWFP has put the finishing touches on the 2014 Youth Fishing Rodeo schedule. Fishing rodeos are open to youth ages 15 and under. The schedule is published in the MarchApril issue of Mississippi Outdoors magazine and can also be found online.
Disking native vegetation in unplanted fields and forest openings promotes favorable food and cover for both deer and upland game birds. Disking promotes desirable forbs (broad-leafed herbaceous plants) and legumes such as ragweed, pokeberry, and partridge pea. Disking also improves brood-rearing cover for turkey and quail. Rotational strip-disking should be completed by the end of March to maintain food and cover in unplanted fields and forest openings.
“We are very excited about this year’s rodeo season,” says Fishing Rodeo Coordinator, Sherry Hazelwood. “We have 45 events scheduled across the state from J. P. Coleman State Park in Northeast Mississippi to the City of Biloxi on the Gulf Coast. Our rodeos offer quality fishing experiences for young anglers in a controlled and safe environment. The ponds are well stocked with catfish to make it easier for children to catch fish, plus rodeos are a great way for families to spend quality time together.”
Often, the most cost effective tool used in managing habitat in uplands is prescribed fire. Prescribed fire sets back plant succession and promotes favorable vegetation structure and composition for many species of wildlife. Landowners and managers should work with a professional, such as a Registered Forester or wildlife biologist, to identify areas on their property where prescribed fire would be beneficial and can be safely applied.
Fishing rodeo dates, locations, and times are subject to change. Updates will be posted on the MDWFP website.
Prepare Your Boat for Spring Boating and Fishing Season Spring is here and for many boaters it is time to take their boat out of winter storage and put it in the water. Annual boat preparation and maintenance helps to ensure not only safety, but also prevents problems that could keep you off the water when the fishing and boating season heats up.
The spring is a great time to implement habitat management for wildlife. For more information about habitat management, please visit www.mdwfp.com/habitat or contact the MDWFP Wildlife Bureau at 601-432-2199.
Bald Eagle Returns Home to Trace State Park Last month, Trace State Park manager Jeff Rosamond helped return a juvenile bald eagle to the park after nearly eight months of rehabilitation at the Jackson Zoo. The eagle was found injured last June on park campgrounds and was taken to the zoo which regularly treats hawks, vultures, and owls as part of its Raptor Rehab Project. “The bald eagles at Trace State Park have become a great attraction for bird watchers and, really, anyone interested in nature,” Rosamond said. “We always have people coming out and bringing their kids, and they’re very excited to be able to show them a bald eagle. There aren’t many places in Mississippi where you can go and expect to have a reasonable chance to see a bald eagle.” Page 11
Fishing Reports ABERDEEN LAKE (TENN-TOM) The cold water temps are steadily rising, but the bite still is a bit slow. The bass are moving shallow in preparation of the spawn, but anglers are having a tough time nailing down a pattern. It took 8.45lbs to win a tournament there this past weekend. Anglers are using lipless crankbaits, swimbaits, square-billed crankbaits, bladed jigs and spinnerbaits to catch their fish. On the cooler, bad weather days or in dirty water conditions, they are opting for a dark colored jig or T-rigged creature bait. The crappie reports are starting to pick up. Look for crappie to be holding on cover close to the spawning flats and backwaters around any stumps or grass. Crappie jigs, particularly black and chartreuse jigs should work well in dirty water conditions. The crappie bite should really get going about the 2nd or 3rd week of March.
COLUMBUS LAKE (TENN-TOM) Not much change to report from last week. Areas that are popular right now are the Hwy. 50 sloughs and the gravel pits at East Bank ramp. The bite should continue to improve as the water warms. Bass are coming on t-rigged plastics, with a few also coming on spinnerbaits and jigs. Right now is the time to get a big pre-spawn bite at Columbus. The crappie reports this past week picked up some. Several reports of some nice crappie coming out of the old river runs in the upper end of the lake. Best runs have been McKinley Creek and the old Buttahatchee River run. Best water depths were 3 to 6 ft. Try both minnows and jigs to see which the fish prefer. Jigs typically work better in the dirty water. BAY SPRINGS Bass reports on Bay continue to improve as the water warms. It took 26 pounds to win a team tournament there this past weekend. Bass anglers are still using a variety of techniques to catch bass. Right now, jerkbaits, lipless crankbaits, and spinnerbaits are working on those sunny days. Swimbaits and shakeyheads are working during overcast conditions. The A-rig will work in both scenarios. The creek channels in McDougal and Riddle are also getting a lot of attention. The crappie anglers are reporting a fair to good bite. Some of the fish have moved shallow while others are holding just off of the spawning flats waiting for the right time to move up. Popular areas continue to be Ashcraft Hollow and the McDougal Branch. Target any standing timber with both minnows and shad colored jigs. Look for this bite to significantly pick up over the next couple of weeks. PICKWICK LAKE/J. P. COLEMAN The water level is 410.34 and relatively holding at the time of this report. Surface water temps are right around the 50 degree mark and warming to the low 50s by the afternoon. The bass bite continues to be good and should only get better over the next few weeks. It took 28lbs to win a team event out of Pickwick Landing this past weekend. The A-rig is a dominant player right now on the bass scene. Other lures like suspending jerkbait, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are working for some as well. Look for the bass to start making their way shallow as they realize the days are getting longer. The crappie action is starting to pick up in Bear Creek. Anglers are finding fish from 20-30ft of water. Most anglers are trolling jigs. Jigs and crankbaits are working for the trollers. Pre-spawn crappie should start showing up over the next week or two. The catfish bite is slow but should be picking up as the water continues to warm. TRACE STATE PARK Water temps are running around the 50 degree mark with water clarity relatively clear. The bass bite continues to be good as more pre-spawn females continue to move up into those transitional areas. The ditches, Page 12
creek channels and points are holding good fish right now. Anglers are using A-rigs and suspending jerkbaits to catch most of their fish. The crappie bite continues to be good as well. Anglers are targeting the visible cover like the stumps and trees in the fishing side of the lake. They are using both jigs and minnows to target these fish. Not much bream fishing happening right now. Those that are, are targeting deeper water around creek channels in 10-15 ft of water dragging bottom and tight-lining meal worms and red wigglers. TIPPAH COUNTY LAKE Water temps are in the low 50s with clear water conditions according to the lake manager. Fishing pressure still remains slow, but this time of year is a good time to catch some of those quality to trophy sized fish as they are feeding up before the spawn. Bass anglers are targeting transition areas like points and creeks channels as the fish start to make their way toward the spawning grounds. Anglers are using soft plastics, suspending jerkbaits, and crankbaits to trigger a lot of their strikes. A few anglers are targeting crappie right now. They are trolling with minnows and hair jigs out in 15-20ft of water. Very few anglers are targeting bream. Those that are, are using jigs and crickets fished just off the bottom in 3-10ft of water. ELVIS PRESLEY LAKE The water temps were warming up quickly due to the warm sunny weather. Most of the action on the lake is fair at best right now. From day to day, crappie anglers are catching fish from as shallow as 5ft to as deep as 14ft. Most anglers are using both minnows and jigs and a vertical presentation. Trolling is a good way to cover the water column effectively while eliminating “dead” water. Anglers can using just about any lure and bait combinations while trolling including small crankbaits. The bass anglers are targeting those transition areas like points and creek ditches as the fish start moving shallow for the spawn. Crankbaits, jigs ans spinnerbaits are popular right now. For catfish, anglers are using both cutbait and minnows around 5-10ft of water on a tight line. ARKABUTLA LAKE Water level 217.00, rising 0.3 ft/day; 7.0 ft above rule curve Monday. For water level information, call (662)562-6261 or check at http://22.214.171.124/offices/ed/edh/docs/bullet.txt for a table or http:// ftp.mvk.usace.army.mil/offices/ed/edh/graphs1.htm for a graph. The lake is supposed to be maintained at winter pool (210 ft) until May 1. The lake is high, muddy, and starting to stabilize. Don’t expect much action this week until the water level stabilizes and starts to clear and warm a little. When the water starts to fall later this week, fish the creeks and/or the river where the water has just pulled back into the channel or fish the outside edges of flooded dead vegetation. Best luck would likely be for crappie fishing with jigs and/or minnows or catfish fishing natural baits on the bottom. White bass in the 2 lb range are biting in the river above Lake. Cast jigs or small crankbaits over sand bottom out of the main current (pockets, back side of sand bars, etc.). Historically, crappie spawning runs from about the first week of April until the second week of May, peaking the second or third week in April. It varies year to year with temperatures, rainfall, water levels, etc. The spillway had three gate open 1.5, 8, 1.5 ft (2250 cfs) Tuesday. Best luck down here will be for crappie on jigs and/or minnows or for catfish on natural baits. White bass are being caught in the spillway and some crappies are being caught in the elbow creek. The daily creel limit for crappie on Arkabutla Lake is 20 per person. Crappie must be over 12 inches. Anglers fishing Arkabutla Lake may use no more than 5 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per (cont. on pg. 13)
(continued from pg. 12)
pole. There is a 50 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers. The 12 inch length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway has a 20 crappie creel limit. SARDIS LAKE Water level 247.0 ft, stable; 4.8 ft above rule curve Monday. For water level information, call (662)563-4531 or check at http://126.96.36.199/ offices/ed/edh/docs/bullet.txt for a table or http://ftp.mvk.usace.army.mil/ offices/ed/edh/graphs1.htm for a graph. The lake should rise from 241 ft March 1 to summer pool (260 ft) by May 1. Expect a little warm-up this week. Best luck will be for crappie fishing 4 to 8 ft deep with jigs and/or minnows. A few catfish could be taken fishing natural baits on the bottom. White bass in the 2 lb range are biting in the river above Lake. Cast jigs or small crankbaits over sand bottom out of the main current (pockets, back side of sand bars, etc.). Historically, crappie spawning runs from about the last week of March until the first week of May, peaking the second week in April. It varies year to year with temperatures, rainfall, water levels, etc. The spillway had 2 gates open 7.0 ft each Tuesday (2500 cfs). Best luck down here will be for crappie on jigs and/or minnows or for catfish on natural baits. Expect the action to speed up due to water temperatures warming up. Contact the COE office (662)563-4531 for accessible ramps at current water levels. The daily limit on black bass (largemouth and spotted) is 7 fish, any size.
Contact the COE office (662)563-4571 for accessible ramps at current water levels. The daily limit for black bass (largemouth and spotted) is 7 fish, any size. The daily creel limit for crappie on Enid Lake is 20 per person. Crappie must be over 12 inches. Anglers fishing Enid Lake may use no more than 5 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. There is a 50 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers. The 12 inch length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway has a 20 crappie creel limit. DESOTO LAKE Mississippi River stage near Desoto Lake (Helena gauge) is up to 25.9 ft and falling. There hasnâ€™t been much fishing going on at Desoto yet, so thereâ€™s no new fishing reports. Fishing should start to pick up in the coming weeks with the warmer weather coming in. For crappie, the best bet in cold weather is trolling in the deeper waters or jigging around submerged structure. Also try fishing jigs or minnows along the outside edges of the willow trees. For bass, fish slowly and patiently around downed logs, steep points, or other deep structure. Good bait choices include spinnerbaits, soft plastics, or jig-n-pig combos. Try tightlining with nightcrawlers, cut bait, or chicken liver, or try running trotlines over mud flats for catfish. After a good rain, fishing around inflowing creeks or ditches can normally produce good catfish too.
The daily crappie creel limit is 15 per person. Crappie must be over 11 inches. Anglers fishing Sardis Lake may use no more than 3 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. There is a 40 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers.
MOON LAKE The warmer weather should increase fish activity due to higher water temps. Look for fishing on Moon Lake to start to pick up this week on Moon Lake.
The crappie length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway, including Sardis Lower Lake, has a 20 crappie creel limit.
Best bet for wintertime crappie is fishing the deepest ends of the fishing piers in 8-12 ft of water. Jigs or minnows are both good bait choices. Try targeting fishing piers along the east side of the lake, especially piers out of the wind with sunken structure around them. Trolling between the piers over structure can also produce fish on calm days.
ENID LAKE Water level 239.0 ft, stable 0.0 ft/day; 3.6 ft above rule curve Monday. For water level information, call (662)563-4571 or check at http://188.8.131.52/offices/ed/edh/docs/bullet.txt for a table or http:// ftp.mvk.usace.army.mil/offices/ed/edh/graphs1.htm for a graph. The lake should rise from 235 ft March 1 to summer pool (250 ft) by May 1. Expect a warm-up this week. Best luck will likely be for crappie fishing 6 ft to 8 ft deep, slow-trolling in the main lake or jigging over submerged brush with jigs and/or minnows. Few crappie are being caught jigging in shallow water. A few catfish could be taken fishing natural baits on the bottom. White bass in the 2 lb range are biting in the river above Lake. Cast jigs or small crankbaits over sand bottom out of the main current (pockets, back side of sand bars, etc.). Historically, crappie spawning runs from about the last week of March until the first week of May, peaking the second week in April. It varies year to year with temperatures, rainfall, water levels, etc.
For bass, fish slowly and patiently around downed logs, cypress knees or other deep structure, or try throwing a spinnerbait or jig around the fishing piers. Remember, the creel limit for bass has changed on Moon Lake, and now anglers may keep 5 fish per day instead of 2 fish per day. Catfish should continue to bite chicken livers, nightcrawlers, or red worms. Fishing around inflowing pipes after a good rain, using trotlines near the shoreline, or tightlining on the bottom are all good methods. LAKE LAMAR BRUCE The lake is closed due to renovations.
The spillway had 1 gate open 2.0 ft each (600 cfs) Monday. Best luck down here will be for crappie on jigs and/or minnows or for catfish on natural baits. Action lately has been relatively slow due to cold water temperatures. Page 13
Across from Wren Flea Market Highway 278 • Wren, MS
•Deli Sandwiches •Fuel •Ice Open early for breakfast.
Hunter & Fishermanʼs One Stop Store Just under bypass
GROCERY • FOOD Highway 341 • Pontotoc, MS Open 5 a.m. Monday - Saturday Page 14
• FUEL • ICE
Congratulations goes out to Morgan Beard, daughter of Jimmy and Vickie Beard of Okolona, on her dream trip elk hunt in New Mexico. Morgan bagged the 6 x 7, 700 lb. elk on a 6 day hunt. Way to go Moe!
Montgomery Drugs 662-489-5555
8-6 Mon.-Fri. 8-4 Sat. David Miller
349 Highway 15 North, Pontotoc, Mississippi
Toby Ann Bennett Page 16
Andy Holley took this nice eight point in Pontotoc, on my uncle, Johnny Rayburn’s land. Pictured from left to right are: Zane Holley , Andy Holley, Johnny Rayburn & Aspen Holley. Aspen and Zane were hunting with their daddy when this buck came upon them.
Sherman Drugs 662-844-8880
8-6 Mon.-Fri. 9-3 Sat. 670 Highway 178 Suite 1 • Sherman, Mississippi
Get your Mississippi Hillcountry Outdoors Magazine at one of these fine locations!
ďż˝e gathering place for hunters and friends!
Full Breakfast & Lunch 5 am-7 pm Mon. - Sat. /10 am-6 pm Sunday Tel. 662-534-7885
BBQ Wild Turkey Total Time: 14 hr Prep: 3 hr Inactive: 8 hr Cook: 3 hr Yield: 8 to 10 servings Turkey Ingredients Brine: 3/4 cup light brown sugar 1/4 cup coriander seeds 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced (about 1 1/4 cups) 2 bay leaves 1 gallon ice 1 (16 to 18-pound) turkey, cleaned and gizzards removed BBQ Sauce: 3 cups cider vinegar 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup ketchup 1/4 cup honey Kosher salt 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper Turkey: Kosher salt 2 celery stalks, quartered 1 lemon, quartered 1 onion, quartered 4 sprigs fresh parsley 4 cups wood chips, such as hickory or mesquite, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
Directions 1. For the brine: In a large stockpot, bring 6 quarts water, 1 1/2 cups salt, brown sugar, coriander, ginger, and bay leaves to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved. While the brine is simmering, fill a bucket (or pot) big enough to hold a turkey with the ice. Pour the brine over the ice. When the brine has cooled, add the turkey. Place a heavy object like a plate or lid on top of the turkey to keep it submerged in the liquid. Brine in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. 2. For the sauce: Heat the vinegar and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Off the heat, stir in the ketchup, honey, 1/4 cup salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Reserve 1 1/2 cups for passing at the table. 3. For the turkey: Prepare an outdoor grill with a medium-high fire for both direct and indirect grilling. Position a drip pan under the grate on the indirect side of the grill. Sprinkle the cavity of the turkey with salt and stuff with the celery, lemons, onions, and parsley, then tie the legs. Place the turkey breast-side up over the drip pan. Toss 1 cup of the soaked wood chips onto the coals. Cover the grill and rotate the lid so that the vent holes are directly over the meat. To maintain a medium-low smoky fire, add about a dozen pieces of charcoal and another cup of wood chips to the fire whenever the fire dies down. Rotate the turkey about every 45 minutes to prevent the side closest to the coals from overcooking. 4. After 1 hour, begin basting the turkey every 20 to 30 minutes with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sauce. (Keep the grill covered between basting.) Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh, not touching the bone, registers 165 degrees F, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes before carving.