Fall turkey season remains closed

Published 9:50 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

JACKSON — Public comments asking for the reinstatement of Mississippi’s Fall Turkey season were unsuccessful. Neither the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commissioners nor staff proposed a rule to reinstate the season Thursday afternoon at a regularly scheduled meeting. 

Fall turkey season remains closed after commissioners voted to close the season indefinitely last year. Wildlife Chief of Staff Russ Walsh presented a handful of changes to the wild turkey rules one of which changes the date for when tags will be required for turkeys to 2026 and hunters would have the option of an electronic tag. 

Ron Seiss, a former employee of the MDWFP, presented an argument for reinstating the fall turkey season. He offered what he thought would be a fair compromise. 

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“This restrictive fall season proposal was developed by turkey hunters. We were disappointed the season was suspended last year,” Seiss said. “It ended 50 years of tradition and took away hunting opportunities. The season could be restricted to private land hunters who apply. We propose a one bird bag limit and the harvest counts against the spring bag limit. We think the changes address the concerns. It should require a copy of the deed or lease agreement with the application so properties can be identified.” 

His proposal additionally suggested making the season dates and eligible counties known only to those who are applying. The outdoor digest could state the fall season is only available through fall turkey applications only. 

A woman in attendance did not plan to make public comments but was inspired following the Seiss’s proposal. Ashlee Smith said the proposal Russ and turkey program coordinator Adam Butler’s team gave last year is what she stands behind until science recommends the reinstatement of a fall season. 

She is involved in policy work for conservation and sportsmen. Smith said the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation happens to be one of their partners. Her comments against a fall turkey season being reinstated came as a hunter. 

“I love Ron and respect Ron. A couple of things jumped out to me as concerns,” Smith said. “The fact this would only be available to private landowners and not the public on any WMAs. You would not publish them on the website. Right at the beginning it popped into my head ‘ok we could potentially reinstate a fall turkey season.’ Only it would be a secret season and only available to people who could afford to own land. That to me rings suspect to me. There are ways you could open it up to fall hunters across Mississippi and still keep it very restricted. If you are going to reinstate a fall season it has to be transparent and it has to be available to all hunters in Mississippi. Even if it is somewhat restrictive.”