Turkey Hunting in Mississippi

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  • B
  • 225,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 40,000

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies.

    Day limit and annual hunting options.

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies.

    Day limit and annual hunting options.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Mississippi's turkeys have been on the decline since 2005 due to poor hatches, and habitat challenges, which means fewer gobblers to hunt.

The state also has a no-jake rule.

Only birds with 6-inch or longer beards are legal. And yes, even if a sharp-spurred, full-fan adult gobbler stepped up with a dinky beard it broke off in a turkey fight (spurs, after all, are the best age indicators), you'd have to let that bird walk.

Youth hunting laws are more open. The current regulation permits hunters 15 years old (and younger) to take one gobbler of choice (any age) per day, three per spring season.

If you travel to hunt turkeys the way some of us do, cost is surely a factor. And as of the 2022 spring season, a conservation-minded lottery system and nonresident cap is in place (on this change, more shortly).

Read the fine print though as you prepare to purchase licenses, and you may save some money. Charges include agent and processing fees. 

As with other turkey hunting states around the country, Mississippi does offer multiple options for limited days and annual licenses. Separate fall and spring turkey hunting permits must be purchased, too. Again, study up. Plan accordingly.

Aside from new considerations for visiting hunters, Mississippi is a classic place to hunt the Eastern subspecies of wild turkey.

Turkey Region 4 in southwestern Mississippi traditionally sees the biggest turkey numbers, with Wilkinson, Adams, Jefferson, Claiborne, Amite, Franklin, Copiah and Lincoln Counties leading the way.

Mississippi also has decent public land hunting in its Wildlife Management Areas, and a vast National Forest system, including the DeSoto, Homochito, Delta and Tombigbee.

Turkey Hunting in Mississippi (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

2022 Season: Mississippi Caps Nonresidents, Adds Lottery System

As turkey hunters, we’re driven by love of full-throated gobbles and displaying strutters. Each spring season, we aim to work in as many hunts as we can. “Early and often,” the saying goes. Our desire to be out there with America’s greatest game bird demands it.

Mississippi, with its appealing traditional early start (mid-March), has long been a destination for nonresident spring turkey hunters. This has been especially true during the pandemic. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) reports that nonresident license sales during the season’s initial weeks doubled in the last two years, prompting public calls to address the issue. 

Increased license sales. That’s good for boosting revenue streams, of course. But it’s also an important consideration as far as managing Mississippi turkey flocks goes.

“Our goal is simply to cap the number of nonresident hunters on public lands to be more in line with historic norms,” said turkey program coordinator Adam Butler. “Quality hunting cannot be maintained on a limited resource when faced with ever-increasing pressure. This process will allow for some nonresident access but will help keep those numbers at a sustainable level.”

 Last August, these MDWFP proposed changes were approved, an effort to reach this goal.  

– Steve Hickoff

[Newsmaker: Turkeys for Tomorrow Group Aims to Help Declining Southeast Populations]

More Realtree turkey hunting here.