Turkey hunter asks tradition of fall hunting to be restored

Published 11:36 am Saturday, March 23, 2024

MCCOMB — Turkey hunters are passionate and Joe Wood made his point as he addressed the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commission Thursday. Public comments lasted for over an hour at the commission meeting held at Percy Quin State Park. 

Wood was the only man to step up to the podium to speak in favor of restoring the fall turkey season. MDWFP commissioners voted to close the fall season last May based on scientific recommendations by the turkey program staff and public comment.
He took to the podium with the book 10th legion written by turkey hunting legend Tom Kelly. Wood said some people may know him from his time with the National Wild Turkey Federation but he was speaking on behalf of himself Thursday morning. 

“In 1973 Tom Kelly wrote the book 1oth legion and in it he says fall turkey hunting is ‘often maligned, frequently overlooked but it is a pile of fun,’ it is still true,” Wood said. “Most people haven’t tried fall turkey hunting. Kelly grew up hunting them in the fall. Mississippi had a fall season for 60 years until it was suspended.” 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Wood pointed to reports that the 2023 hatch was the highest in decades and the fact 39 other states have a fall season. He told the commission they have a hard job protecting the resource and giving hunting opportunities. 

“We need a compromise,” he said. 

His suggestion was a shortened season, smaller bag limits and pleaded with the commission to “please don’t let the fall tradition die in Mississippi.” 

Commissioner Leonard Bentz asked if the commission were to entertain a motion to go back and change their vote last year to open up a gobblers only season when the appropriate time would be. Legal counsel informed Bentz it would be April.

NWTF supports department recommendations

Frank Dantone, the NWTF Mississippi River chapter president, stepped up to the podium next. He said as he was leaving the delta he saw a beautiful landscape with the sun coming up. At Percy Quin, he got out of the car and thought about how he would rather be turkey hunting. 

MDWFP Chairman Bill Cossar said he was to blame for scheduling the meeting in the morning. 

Dantone said he was not present to address the letter or comments made by Wood. Biologists could address the concerns Wood had. 

Instead, Dantone reminded commissioners about the NWTF’s position on fall turkey hunting and the turkey stamp. 

“This commission and department asked our chapter to give you our opinion on the fall turkey hunting and stamp. We had a meeting and discussed it fully. Our biologist gave an explanation about the position and why,” Dantone said. “The biologist showed us studies, surveys and opinions. He gave us the department recommendation. We had a good discussion and fully voted to support the department. You have a letter from us saying we support the position to cancel the fall turkey season.” 

He said the NWTF chapter fully supports the creation of the turkey stamp. House and senate bills to create the stamp have passed out of their respective chambers. 

“Anything that helps turkey conservation and helps hunters kill a turkey in the spring we will support,” Dantone said. “To me it is a no brainer that the revenue raised by this turkey stamp will

Check back tomorrow for more public comments regarding turkeys.