How Much Does The Average 3.5 Year Old Weigh Spring Turkey in Mississippi

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Spring Turkey in Mississippi

Mississippi in the spring means turkey season. For six weeks, more than 15,000 Mississippi sportsmen head into the woods with their shotguns, calls and as much camouflage as they can get, looking for these big eaters.

Mississippi wild turkeys are invariably of the eastern variety (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris). Its large head, without feathers and reddish, the red throat distinguishes the males and the red chins on the throat and neck. Males with their bright plumage and bearded chest weigh an average of 10 to 20 pounds and are much larger than the dull-feathered, usually beardless females that weigh 5 to 10 pounds. Another easy way to distinguish males from females is by feather tips, black for toms, cream/tan for hens.

The MDWFP conducts an annual survey and reports on gobbler arrivals throughout the state. According to Adam Butler in the upcoming 2012 “Spittin’ & Drummin” Wild Turkey Report:

• Two-year-old swallows accounted for a greater proportion of the harvest than any other age class, accounting for 43% of the overall harvest.

• For every 10 hours hunted, hunters saw an average of 10 turkeys, including approximately 2 adult gobblers, 5 hens, 2 jacks and 1 unknown. These numbers were above the 10-year average for each category.

• The top five counties with the highest average number of gobblers heard per 10 hours hunted were in Turkey Region 4 and included Claiborne, Jefferson, Adams, Hinds and Warren.

Board and box calls are extremely popular and easy to use, but many Mississippi sportsmen prefer tube calls because you can vary your vocabulary more to get a young gobbler to respond. However, it is important not to shout too much at a bird, as larger, mature toms are notoriously shy.

Camouflage is a must, as the turkey has sharp eyes and will spook at the slightest touch of bipeds with boom sticks. This includes good face camouflage and dark socks. While you’ll be sitting and waiting, usually against a tree, reach for your bug repellant, face shields and mosquito hats. Remember, you’re not hunting deer here, so scent control isn’t a big factor.

The most popular long arms that bring the best results in Mississippi are 10 gauge 3.5 inch turkey guns with extra full chokes. A 12.3 inch full will do, but make sure you can put 8-10 pellets into the head of a turkey target out to 30 yards. If you can lure the toms closer, that’s great, but be prepared to make the shot at 30-40 yards.

Mississippi record turkeys are recorded in several different ways: by beard score, by longest beard, by longest spur, and by weight. Currently the records are as follows:

• Non-Typical Score: April 8, 2010, Don Shumaker, Pontotoc County, 157.06 9 barbs, 60.25 inches total

• Longest Beard: April 3, 2001, Monty Roberts, Monroe County, 17.25 inches

• Longest spur: April 24, 2010, Robert Dinsmore, Noxubee County, 4.50 inches

• Heaviest: April 11, 2009, Lauren Kaye Russell, Panola County, 25.27 pounds

About 300,000 wild eastern turkeys are believed to live in Mississippi, of which about 30,000 are harvested each year.

The spring turkey season begins with youth hunting March 8-14, 2012 on state and federal licensed private public lands for those 15 and under. The regular spring season opens on March 15th and closes on May 1st.

Bag limits are one (1) adult gobbler or gobbler with a beard 6 inches or longer per day, three per spring season. Hunters 15 and under may harvest one favorite gobbler (any age) per day, 3 per spring season. With a $500 fine and six months in jail for people over the limit in the state, this is something to keep in mind.

With wild turkey numbers far fewer than deer or ducks, several areas of the state are closed from the spring turkey season for conservation reasons. In Coahoma County the areas west of Hwy. 61, east of the freeway. 1, north of Eagles Nest-Friars Pt. Rd. and south of Coahoma-Friars Point Rd are closed to turkey hunting this season. The same can be said for Leflore County West of Hwy. 7 and the highway. 49E and north of Moorehead Rd. and south of the freeway. 442. In Sunflower County, the areas south of Hwy. 442 and east of the freeway. 3 and the highway. 49W and north of Berclair Rd are closed. All of Quitman County is closed.

With the severe flooding of the Mississippi River Delta in 2011, the state’s turkey population declined. Although the adult birds generally survived, their reproduction was interrupted, so that fewer new young were produced. The state isn’t eliminating the spring season overall, but MDWFP is asking turkey hunters to be conservative this coming spring. The spring turkey season will be closed at Mahannah and Shipland WMAs and limited to Sunflower and Twin Oaks WMAs due to low survey numbers there.

With a little luck, plenty of camouflage, a couple of good calls, and a tight-shooting shotgun, the wild turkey in the pine forests of Mississippi awaits.

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