The long awaited spring turkey season is over and most of the hunters I know and hunt with are rather glad. For reasons not entirely clear, the success rate in my locale and with my family and friends was very, very low.
This was surely not expected. We have been told that the “no jakes” regulation (that's been in effect for a few years now) was going to produce a woods full of adult gobblers. We were lead to believe those birds would gobble their heads off and produce high rates of success. But it surely hasn't happened in the woods I hunt and, in fact, none of my close associates have had much success.
As all of my readers know, I haven't been in support of this new “no jakes” rule. And the longer it stays in effect, the surer I am that you simply can't stockpile gobblers and make for great future hunting. In addition to this, I'm really not able to understand the sacredness of year-old turkeys!
At one time, most of the Old Timers thought it might be a good thing. But the ones I know are now not nearly as happy with this rule as they proclaimed to be when it went into effect.
The very worst thing about this rule, to my way of thinking, is that it reduces the possibility for young hunters to take a fine, young bird — a bird that's much better on the table and in lots of instances will gobble and put on a decent show for the hunter. Down through the more than 50 years that I've hunted these wily critters in the lands that lie behind the levee, I've had quite a number of jakes gobble and come in to my call just as nicely as if they were three-year-olds. I've never considered myself such a turkey-hunting snob that I was ashamed to bag a jake.
The fact that Mississippi is the only so-called “great turkey” state that prohibits the kill of a jake ought to tell us something! The state of Arkansas is the only state I know of besides Mississippi that prohibits killing jakes — but they let hunters kill one jake per spring. This often makes the difference in having a happy hunter and one that goes through a spring season without bagging a bird.
My four out-of-state grandkids are seriously considering not buying a $228 license to turkey hunt a few days and potentially having to pass up a jake. But enough of my complaining. Let's move on to happier things…
Like the fact that we seem to be having an early and fine turkey hatch. According to my friend Leon Kennedy, who is caretaker for the well-known Burke Hunting Club, he's already seen droves of poults as this is being written on May 14. He also told me just today that he's been watching several other hens that were nesting and should bring off the poults in a few more days.
The only other dismal report that I have to make is that the usual fine fishing behind the levee in my locale is not up to standard. This is due to the fact that we got no fresh floodwater from the Mississippi. Not even fresh water through entry pipes (that are set in the river bank much lower than the natural bank) that almost always get enough river rise to at least fill the lakes with fresh water did the trick. Many of the lakes behind the levee have actually dried up and all of them need a fresh shot of water that would improve fishing even if it doesn't provide a new supply of fish.
I do know one land-locked lake on our hunting club that is so deep it receives fresh water through the aquifer virtually every year when the river rises at all. For this we're duly thankful.
This particular blue hole has never been a top-notch crappie hole, but is a superb bream and bass lake. We'll just have to make do with what we have or drive over and fish four huge reservoirs that are always good: Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid and Grenada.