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Home » Glynn Harris: Things looking up for turkey season

Glynn Harris: Things looking up for turkey season

by Russell Hedges

Featured photo of Ross Downer of Minden a courtesy photo

There is no way I could ever forget my introduction to hunting wild turkeys. I had actually tagged along years ago behind Blue Parkman, a veteran turkey hunter from Ruston who had several years of chasing gobblers under his belt. Back then, turkeys were scarce only being found in isolated areas such as the Jackson Bienville wildlife management area where I followed Parkman. The hunt ended without success although I got to hear a turkey gobble for the first time.

​It was years later, 1994, that my addiction to turkey hunting began when I accepted the invitation to hunt turkeys in Alabama. I was reluctant at first because I had never turkey hunted and the date of the invitation coincided with bream bedding season here at home. I rather reluctantly accepted the invitation, shot my very first gobbler and I was instantly hooked. Some 20 years later before age and infirmities halted my ability to chase gobblers, I was able to bring down 41 gobblers from around the country, collecting my coveted Grand Slam in the process.

​I would love to still be able to hurry across the woods to be sitting withing 100 yards of a roosted gobbler before it flew down. Since I can’t, I enjoy talking about them, writing about them and supporting them by my membership in our local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

​Now that turkey season is kicking off – opening day in Area A this year is April 6 – I visited with the state’s top wild turkey expert, Cody Cedatol, to get his thoughts on what the turkey situation looks like this year in Louisiana. For the past several years, things have not been quite so rosy as they have been in earlier times.

​“Based on all we have been able to tell,” Cedatol began, “things are looking better than they have over the last decade or so. We have had a good hatch two years in a row and we have determined that the gobbler harvest was up again last year so we’re excited about that.”

​My next question had to do with the reason or reasons that things are looking better for our state’s turkey population.

​“There are at least a couple of reasons,” said Cedatol. “A few years ago, we delayed the opening of turkey season to give gobblers and hens a bit longer to get together and breed and this has resulted in better hatches of young turkeys. Another reason is an environmental one. For the past couple of years, we have had better weather during the nesting and brooding season. Turkeys need a relatively dry period from April to June and that’s what we’ve had and turkeys have responded.”

​Cedatol noted that there were reports of a good population of juvenile males (jakes) last year which means those that carried over will be adult gobblers this season.

​I wondered what plans if any were on the drawing board going forward from this year as regards management of wild turkeys.

​“We have a proposal before the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission that would prohibit the harvest of jakes except byyouth hunters. Lots of hunters have expressed a desire for us to do this and in fact, many private hunting clubs already prohibit the taking of jakes. It’s not a done deal as the proposal is out for public comments and Commission won’t be acting on it until their April meeting,” he said.  

Public hearings will take place around the state prior to the meeting giving hunters the opportunity to express opinions as to whether or not the prohibition of taking jakes will become law. Have an opinion? Let the Commission know what you think.

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