With the 2018-19 deer and small game seasons winding down, some south Mississippi hunters are already shifting their attention to other things, like fishing. Me, I'm not quite ready to dust of the ol' fishing tackle.
Don't get me wrong; I love to fish as much as the next fella, but with cold weather one day, hot the next, raining three days, clear the next, you gotta admit the weather has not been favorable for fishing. The few anglers I have talked to say that it's hardly worth the time unless you have nothing against using live bait. Of course, we all know to use worms or crickets for panfish, or small minnows for crappie and larger ones for bass.
But, like I said, this is one hunter who is not quite ready for fishing. However, I AM ready to move on from deer hunting to turkey hunting, and I know a growing number like me (God bless 'em). Mississippi's spring turkey season is just more than a month away, opening March 8 for youth hunters and March 15 for licensed hunters.
If you're a turkey hunter, the time for preparation is NOW. If you're not a turkey hunter … you simply don't know what you're missing. For me, the first step is to begin practicing my calls. I prefer using mouth calls because they require no movement of the hands. Box and slate calls are just as effective, but the slight movement required will spook a gobbler if his sharp eyes detect it.
Also, the time to locate birds is at hand. Granted, many a turkey hunter already knows where they will be on opening day because of gobbler sightings during deer and small game seasons. If not, it is not too early to begin scouting. Hit the woods and listen for gobbling, look for scratchings or check large pastures for roaming flocks of birds.
Begin getting your equipment ready. Check camo clothing for wear. Clean and pattern shotguns. As the season nears, you can rest assured this column will bore you hunters to tears with more turkey tips, especially those who have never experienced the thrill and excitement of turkey hunting.
Speaking of which, turkey hunters and prospective hunters should attend the South Mississippi Strutters Chapter of the NWTF dinner banquet at the Catfish Wagon in Petal this Saturday, Feb. 9. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner served at 7. To enjoy the learning experience and have fun, not to mention the chance to win prizes including guns, call Rayford for tickets and more info at 601-408-1451.
Until next time, if I don't have another case of writer's block, get out and enjoy what Mississippi's great outdoors has to offer. Be safe, be ethical, have fun. And when you go, take a kid with you … every time you can.
The PineBelt News outdoor writer Phil DiFatta may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for story ideas, comments and photos. Readers may also text photos, with contact info, to 601-596-4475.