The forecast for turkey hunting in Mississippi this spring is good, so says the new wild turkey project coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Dave Godwin.
Godwin says on a scale of one to 10, he rates the state's forecast an eight.
Mississippi turkey hunters don't have to be told what most affects a spring season, hatch success two years earlier. It is the number of 2-year-old toms, the most gullible of gobblers, that can make or break a season.
They also don't have to be told how miserable hunting has been the last two springs.
Following extremely poor hatches in 2003 and 2004, there were fewer mature gobblers to gobble, so the woods were extremely quiet and harvest rates down.
Meanwhile, a big change awaits hunters this year. An early switch to daylight savings time next weekend will cost some a few morning hunts.
Mississippi may allow military personnel on leave from active duty to hunt or fish in the state without being required to have a license. That's according to a bill working its way through the Legislature.
One version of the bill cleared the House last month and a revised version cleared the Senate Tuesday.
The two chambers will have to work out minor differences before the bill can go to Gov. Haley Barbour.
The soldiers would only be required to carry personal identification and proof of their military service while hunting or fishing. If Barbour signs the bill into law, it would take effect July 1.
Mississippi turkey seasons and regulations are listed below:
-- Youth season: Opens Thursday on private lands and state wildlife management areas, ends March 14. Only youths aged 15 and under can shoot, but they must be accompanied by and under the direct supervision of an adult 21 years of age or older. If a child is under the age of 12, the supervising adult must be a licensed or exempt hunter.
-- Regular season: Opens March 15 and ends May 1.
-- One gobbler per day, three per season per hunter. Only mature gobblers or gobblers with a 6-inch minimum beard are legal, except that youths 15 and under are allowed to take one immature gobbler. No hens allowed.
Legal shooting hours
-- 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
-- Restricted to shotguns only with no shot larger than No. 2, compound, recurve and long bows. Any quadriplegic may use a rifle.
-- Desoto County: West of Mississippi 305, south of Mississippi 302, east of Mississippi 3, and east of U.S. 61.
-- Tate County: North of Mississippi 4 and west of Mississippi 305.
-- Tunica County: East of Mississippi 3
-- Humphreys County: East of Mississippi 7 and north of Mississippi 12.
-- Issaquena County: North and west of Willett Road and south and east of Mississippi 1.
-- Leflore County: West of Mississippi 7 and U.S. 49 East and north of Moorehead Road and south of Mississippi 442, and east of Mississippi 7 and south of Silent Shade Road and west of the Yazoo River.
-- Sunflower County: South of Mississippi 442 and east of Mississippi 3 and U.S. 49 West and north of Berclair Road.
Source: Mississippi Department of Wildfire, Fisheries and Parks.