Turkey season changes, other final rules to be decided next week
Published 12:28 pm Friday, May 12, 2023
JACKSON — Turkey season changes will be the biggest issue discussed at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commission meeting next Thursday. Proposed rules to move the spring turkey season opening date to the Saturday closest to May 20, require a physical tagging system and closing the fall turkey season are the biggest talking points on the agenda.
Billy Deviney and Todd Williams are expected to make public comments speaking to the fall turkey season according to the meeting agenda. Jason Thompson will follow up with a License Sales Report presentation. MDWFP’s budget is 90 percent funded through license sales.
Final rules will be voted on including regulations for Wildlife Management Areas under Rule 1.1-1.47. Land surrounding Calling Panther Lake in Copiah County will be defined as a Wildlife Management Area for draw only archery deer hunts, weekend youth only spring turkey hunts and shotgun only squirrel hunts in February. Chief of Wildlife Russ Walsh said the addition of Calling Panther WMA is a “good thing,” and “provides another hunting opportunity.”
White-tailed deer season dates will be made final along with waterfowl seasons. The biggest change will be the Archery season opening on September 30 due to a state statute where if October 1 is on a Sunday the opening day backs up to Saturday.
Velvet season will return and will be on September 15 to September 17. It is a buck only, archery only season where hunters have to submit samples for Chronic Wasting Disease testing. Deer Program coordinator William McKinley said 629 bucks were harvested in the inaugural Velvet Season last year at the April commission meeting.
Northeast, east central and southwest deer management areas will also be combined for simplicity sake under the deer season rule changes. McKinley said those zones had always had the same season dates and antler restrictions.
Turkey season changes started back in February when turkey program coordinator Adam Butler presented an update on the turkey program in the commission meetings educational session. Butler pointed out after the April meeting that the turkey season changes really got started due to public concern several years ago.
April’s meeting heard the official rule proposals and they were accepted and placed into a 30 day public comment period. May’s meeting could determine if Mississippi’s opening date will change to better align with gobbling activity and if the fall season will close to encourage hen survival under Rule 3.1.
Rule 3.4 if passed would require a physical tagging system where hunters have to invalidate a tag and fix it to the bird before removing it from afield and keep the tag on the bird until it has been cleaned. Mississippi currently requires hunters to report turkey harvests through Game Check but physical tags give game wardens a tool to investigate possible resource exploitation.
A cooperative agreement between the MDWFP and Pearl River Valley Water Supply District will be announced at the meeting too according to the agenda. Fisheries bureau awards will follow.
Jerry Carter, Chief of Law Enforcement, will give an update on enforcement efforts including the top five violations. MDWFP law enforcement wrote 750 citations in March. The top five violations were 128 no license, 50 personal flotation device violations, 44 for trespassing, 28 no registration and 26 citations for no WMA permit.
The commission meeting will start at 1 p.m. next Thursday at 1505 Eastover Drive in Jackson. Members of the public are invited to attend and can watch the meeting on the MDWFP YouTube page. Public comment is still open for the proposed rule changes just visit MDWFP.com to submit your comment.