3/2/2018 9:44:09 AM
Based on data collected by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), most Magnolia State turkey hunters should expect a replay of last year’s season when they hit the woods on March 15th.
“Our forecast for turkey season is based on a combination of information from our summer brood survey and observations recorded by hunters who participate in the annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey,” said Adam Butler, a wildlife biologist who serves as the MDWFP’s Wild Turkey Program Coordinator. Butler says the metrics that the MDWFP tracks from these two sources of data are similar to the values observed last spring. “We estimated that licensed hunters harvested about 27,000 gobblers last spring. Although we anticipate some regional variation, most of our figures suggest the 2018 harvest should be pretty similar to that of 2017,” he stated.
As with all wildlife populations, numbers will vary by region. The following accounts describe what to expect in different regions of Mississippi this spring.
This region was the state’s hot-spot in 2017. Brood data from previous years, along with last season’s juvenile gobbler observations, both suggest overall harvest should dip slightly in northern Mississippi, however, populations are still strong, and gobbler harvest in the north will probably once again outpace most other regions in 2018.
The Mississippi River has been at or near flood stage at some point during seven of the last ten turkey nesting seasons. Unsurprisingly, turkey populations in the Delta have plummeted. MDWFP’s data indicates that 2018 will not see much of a turn around. Hunters on most properties should temper expectations as harvest totals will likely be well below average for much of the region.
Available data suggests that much of central Mississippi should be poised for a very exciting season this spring. The region had an excellent hatch in 2016, which translated into a sizeable spike in jake observations last year. With this above-average crop of two-year-old gobblers roaming the woods, east-central Mississippi should offer outstanding action in 2018.
Both brood data and last year’s jake observations mirror the previous year’s tallies, suggesting that hunters in southwest Mississippi should expect a pretty similar spring season to what they found in 2017.
The Pine Belt’s two-year-old crop of gobblers should be slightly better than last year, suggesting that harvest will likely also be up, but this modest bump will probably not bolster populations levels to what hunters remember from some of the better years of the past.