July 18, 2017
Included in this Issue
  • The Turkey Hatch & the River  - by Adam Butler
  • Classifieds
  • MRLA Announcements & Upcoming Events
  • Letter from the MRLA President - by Frank Smith, Jr.
  • Mississippi River Facts
Announcements & Upcoming Events
  • ***SAVE THE DATE***
MRLA will be hosting its annual member meeting!

 DATE:      Thursday, August 24, 2017

 TIME:        9:00am

 PLACE:    Ameristar Casino Vicksburg


MRLA is now offering a classified section in our newsflashes. The classified section will be free for members. All submissions will need to be sent to Dana Jones [email protected] .

Frank Smith, President
Bucky Murphy, Vice President
Chris Winter, Secretary
George Smith, Treasurer

Board Members

Ike Brunetti
Skip Graeber
Larry Garland
Curtis Hopkins
Milford Hough
Bruce Lewis
Rives Neblett
Buck Neely
Jamey Nicholas


WANTED - 14-16 ft aluminum boat with casting decks. Trailer and motor preferred but not necessary. Call 601-503-9043 .

WANTED-Turkey hunting lease within 2 hour drive of Jackson. Call 601-503-9043.

FOR SALE -17' Pro Team Bass Tracker fishing boat with a 40 HP Mercury. Boat has always been kept out of the weather and is in good condition. $7500. Call David @ 601-209-7200.

WANTED - Two 25,000 gallon vertical welded steel tanks, maximum height 32 ft. Call Bryan @ 601-813-4128.

Please send items For Sale or Wanted to [email protected]

Letter from the President
by Frank W. Smith, Jr.

Two items I would like to report to our membership:

1.  The Timber & Habitat Management Workshop held in May at Scott was well attended and well received.  Several experts (biologists & foresters) were  available  to share ideas and concerns and member clubs in attendance shared “real life” experiences with the group.  MRLA plans to sponsor additional workshops at different locations, so let us know if you would be interested in having an event in your area.

2      Membership in MRLA has grown significantly since our formation in 2013.  We are reaching out to clubs who are not members to ask that they join our group.  Below is a letter we are sending to the prospective members which we have identified.  Please promote our organization with any club you might identify as a prospect.  

Thanks for your support of MRLA.

I am asking that your club consider supporting the MRLA (Mississippi River Landowners Alliance) by becoming a member.  Dues are low, as most of the workload is handled on a volunteer basis; and the value added is significant.  MRLA was formed in 2013 to represent the interests of equity hunting clubs along the Mississippi River.  Currently, MRLA has 85 member clubs representing 346,459 acres, with clubs located from Memphis to Natchez on both sides of the river. Included among MRLA’s accomplishments are:   

  1. Semi-annual membership meetings providing education on topics ranging from habitat management to legislative issues

  2. Increased penalty for shooting from the levee in Mississippi to a class 1 violation

  3. Worked with MDWFP to modify flood closure deer hunting regulations to protect displaced game

  4. Developed strong working relationships with the wildlife and fisheries departments of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

  5. Sponsored amended Mississippi statute to allow landowners to take court reporters to Justice Court for poaching/trespassing cases

  6. Sponsored amended Mississippi statute to limit tax increases on ag and timber land

  7. Worked with Louisiana Game and Fish to allow an exemption for deer carcasses from Mississippi land on the west bank of the Mississippi River

Attached for your information is a copy of a recent newsletter which provides additional information for your benefit. You might also visit our website at https://www.msrla.com.


There have been and will be times when it is to our benefit to speak with a united voice.  Also, as we have found in the few years since our formation, the sharing of ideas and knowledge has been beneficial.  Finally, it appears to me that the upside potential for MRLA is significant, while the downside is very limited.

Feel free to contact me or any of our board members should you desire additional information or should you have questions or suggestions.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.  Joining is simple; just complete the enclosed membership form and return.                                                                                                                                        Sincerely,                                                                                                                                         Frank Smith


The Turkey Hatch and The River
By: Adam B. Butler, Wild Turkey Program Coordinator Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks 
For those who love the Southern outdoors, the dead of summer can be tough.  The heat is unbearable, hunting seasons are a distant memory or a long wait, depending on which direction you’re looking, and the best fishing spots falter as the thermometer continues to climb.  An assessment of your surroundings, albeit with the windows up and the air conditioner on, becomes one of the best ways to pass the time. 

For those who love turkey hunting, one of the most critical assessments can be that of the “the hatch.”  Turkey populations are fickle and nothing contributes more to their volatility than the outcome of their annual reproductive effort.  Concerns surrounding the hatch are therefore especially warranted, and can be a good gauge of spring mornings to come.  For those who hunt along the Mississippi River, the hatch often tends to be boom or bust – when the River cooperates populations explode to levels rarely reached in the hills, however, just as Old Man River giveth, he can also taketh away.  Springtime flooding, particularly in back to back years, can send Batture turkey numbers plummeting. 

As June slips into July, official brood survey tallies from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) are still a few months from conclusion, however, prospects aren’t promising for areas inside the Mississippi River levee.  The River began exceeding its banks during the first two weeks of May and remained so until late in the month.  This means high water was prevalent throughout most of the heart of the nesting season, and while renesting attempts through June and even into July are possible, the initial attempts in May are usually what makes or breaks the hatch. 

Given the slim hopes of a spectacular 2017 hatch, a look backward can help guide harvest expectations and management going forward.  One of the best datasets available to the MDWFP to track turkey populations is the annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey (SGHS), which comprises observation and harvest data voluntarily collected by turkey hunters throughout the state.  At time of writing, the 2017 data entry has not been completed, but the trends emerging for the Delta Region are not promising.  Harvest by Delta turkey hunters in 2017 looks to be slightly above the averages of the prior couple of years, but was still far short of the happy hunting days of the late ‘90s and early 2000s.  More concerning is the apparent drop in gobbling activity and turkey observations.  The number of gobblers heard per 10 hours hunted looks to have taken a 30% fall from the average of the previous 3 years, while the total number of turkeys observed per 100 hours hunted seems to have been cut in half.  From 2013 to 2016, SGHS hunters in the Delta saw about 130 total turkeys per 100 hours hunted.  Based on currently available data, the 2017 figure looks to only be around 55 turkeys per 100 hours hunted.  More disheartening, the number of jakes seen fell 40% from the previous year to its lowest level in 5 years.  This isn’t too surprising given the below average hatches of 2015 and 2016. 

As stated earlier, the good thing about land along the Mississippi is that when the stars align turkey numbers can surge like nowhere else.  Unfortunately, unless late nesting attempts are wildly successful, 2017 probably won’t see much of a surge.  This, combined with the lackluster numbers observed during the past season, doesn’t yield much room for optimism about next spring.  Wise managers should look to be conservative with their harvests, and keep their powder dry for a better day.   

Adam B. Butler Wild Turkey Program Coordinator
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
(601) 695-6795

Mississippi River
The Mississippi River and its floodplain are home to a diverse population of living things:

  • At least 260 species of fish, 25% of all fish species in North America

  • Forty percent of the nation's migratory waterfowl use the river corridor during their Spring and Fall migration

  • Sixty percent of all North American birds (326 species) use the Mississippi River Basin as their migratory flyway

  • From Cairo, IL upstream to Lake Itasca there are 38 documented species of mussel. On the Lower Mississippi, there may be as many as 60 separate species of mussel

  • The Upper Mississippi is host to more than 50 mammal species

  • At least 145 species of amphibians and reptiles inhabit the Upper Mississippi River environs.

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