The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks are collaborating to improve habitat and hunting quality in the Charles Ray Nix Wildlife Management Area.
The 3,900-acre section of public land, located in Panola County, Mississippi, “is one of the largest tracts of intensively-managed, early-successional habitat in the state,” said Kacie Bauman, district biologist for the NWTF. “The area’s old fields and upland forest stands are managed with fire, herbicides and fall discing to provide quality habitat for various wildlife, including wild turkeys.”
Early successional habitats include grasslands, old fields, shrub thickets and young forests that provide excellent food and cover for a variety of wildlife.
Turkey hunting on the Charles Ray Nix WMA is uniquely for youth 15 years of age or younger accompanied by a licensed or exempt hunter at least 21 years of age. “Turkey hunting on the WMA is conducted through a draw system for youth only. Youth who are fortunate enough to receive a lottery permit on the WMA have basically the whole area to hunt, which increases the odds of tagging a turkey,” Bauman said.
The NWTF contributed $3,000 for the initial mulching of invasive species and undesirable hardwoods on 11 acres, targeting Chinese privet in particular. MDWFP provided staff, subsequent herbicide applications and will conduct a controlled burn of the area in 2020.
Follow-up prescribed burns will “stimulate and maintain the new native plants that will be beneficial to wild turkeys from a nesting, brood-rearing and foraging standpoint,” Bauman said.
— David Gladkowski