Never in my dreams did I think I’d say it, but to tell the truth, for the first time in my life I’m actually glad deer season is over. Oh, it was challenging, fun and semi successful, but because of all the turkeys I saw during deer season, I’m itching to call in a big gobbler.
I won’t have to wait long, either. Opening day of the season for hunting Mississippi’s turkeys 2021 is near, not far at all. In fact, Youth Turkey Season begins March 8 and lasts thru March 14. The regular Spring Season opens on the 15th and runs thru May 1. Finally it will be turkey season, with all the benefits that come with it – like mosquitoes and malaria, ticks and Lyme Disease, yellowjackets and allergic reactions, heat and heat strokes, rattlesnakes and fangs, along with redbugs invading private parts, etc., etc.
Kinda makes you wonder why I’m looking so forward to turkey season, doesn’t it? All the biting bugs, stinging critters and blood suckers aren’t so bad, though … if you are prepared. I am prepared, and all you turkey hunters should be, too. For instance, you’ll want to wear snake boots, apply tick repellent, wear gloves and a headnet, and it’s a great idea to get a Thermacell unit to repel mosquitoes if you don’t have one.
Now I’m sure you veteran turkey hunters don’t need little ol’ me to remind you any of this stuff. If you’ve “been there, done that,” you already know these things. But, for those who will be hunting turkeys for the first time, well, that’s another story. For the veterans, it’s just a friendly reminder and something to help me collect my paycheck (yes, they actually pay me for this!).
For the first-timers, my strongest piece of advice would be to not go it alone the first few hunts. Ask, beg if you must, a veteran turkey hunter to let you tag along with him or her. Learn the ropes from a veteran – things like what you can and can’t get away with when you have a sharp-eyed, sharp-eared turkey coming to your calls. (Ears? What ears?)
I vividly remember my first-ever turkey hunt. My mentor was none other than five-time World Champion turkey caller, Mr. Turkey himself, Preston Pittman, formerly of Hattiesburg. Honestly, I learned more by tagging along behind him than I ever could from a lifetime of reading such “material” as this, or by watching every video on the market. Naturally, I was blessed to hunt with and learn from Preston, but not everybody gets to hunt with a professional. Still, if you can, find a mentor. If you simply can’t con a veteran hunter into taking you, the aforementioned articles and videos are better than nothing. And when you go, learn from the turkeys and from your mistakes, of which there will be many.
As of the publication date of this Weekly Mistake, you have but two weekends to get out and scout. Even if you locate an abundance of birds, but don’t practice with your turkey calls, chances are you won’t be able to fool a sharp gobbler. Actually, “Turkeys ain’t so smart,” another five-time World Champion turkey caller, the legendary Ben Lee once told me while we were hunting in southeast Oklahoma. “They (turkeys) just show us how dumb we are,” he quipped.
Though Ben was half-heartedly joking, his quip may be true if you don’t prepare properly for the season closing in on you. Things like cleaning and inspecting your shotgun come to mind. Pattern your gun and find out which size shot patterns best. Number four shot works best in my old Remington, but number fives might work best in yours. You’ll never know until you pattern different shot sizes and even different brands of ammunition.
I could go on and on about things you and I should do, must do, to prepare for the upcoming turkey season. But that would only serve to bore you more, so I’ll slip down from the saddle of my high horse and give a shout-out to some friends.
Jeremy Lawler, Eric Williamson and my big ol’ friend Josh Humphries, all of the Purvis area, took a trip up to Lake Village, Arkansas in pursuit of ducks and geese last season. More importantly, they took Jeremy’s boys, Kade and Conner, who I understand were the only ones that could actually hit the fast-flying waterfowl. They tell me it was a great trip, which leads me right into my closing: Get out and enjoy the great outdoors. And when you go, take a kid (or two) with you … every time you can.
Hattiesburg native Phil DiFatta is a lifelong outdoorsman who has written a newspaper column since 1982. Email him at email@example.com.