The arrival to my mailbox of turkey hunting magazines and catalogs advertising the latest in turkey hunting gear and a spring that is approaching quickly have turned me on to the upcoming wild turkey season in Louisiana.

Don’t look now but the season is right here on us.

Youth and physically challenged hunters can legally go after gobblers March 18 and 19 while regular season opens in all designated areas March 25 with season in Area A ending April 23.

As much as I look forward to being in the woods as day breaks on opening day, I enjoy gathering with my friends at one of the annual fund raising banquets held around the state prior to season opening.

My local chapter, the North-Central Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), is holding its get-together Tuesday, March 14, at the Ruston Civic Center.

Long-time official with the NWTF, Luke Lewis along with his hard-working committee, has all the parts in place to make this year’s event a memorable one.

“We’ve been hosting our fund raising banquet for the past 25 years or so,” said Lewis. “During the early days, we didn’t have very many turkeys around north Louisiana to talk about but because of the efforts of so many who have been generous with funds and support, we’re looking today at the best of times for the wild turkey. People are supporting our efforts and we’re seeing dollars generated that end up on the ground to enhance the betterment of these amazing birds.”

Lewis noted that for the past two years, Louisiana has experienced moderate to good hatches and said our overall turkey situation is relatively stable.

“According to statistics compiled by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), we had a moderate to good hatch this past year which means we’ll have some good carry-over into the upcoming season. I think north Louisiana can anticipate a good season this year,” Lewis added.

The NWTF has an initiative that has been in play over the past few years. The thrust of the initiative is self-explanatory, Save the Habitat; Save the Hunt.

“This focus allows us to not only take care of the habitat but also to recruit more turkey hunters. If you’re a turkey hunter or at all interested in nature, this new initiative helps not just wild turkeys but everything from butterflies on up. It’s a nature-friendly endeavor where everything benefits,” Lewis said.

Louisiana stands to benefit from funds raised at annual banquets to the tune of some $1.3 million that is earmarked for state work.

“We’re spending this amount of money on the Kisatchie National Forest in two ranger districts in the state. We have a lot of work going on with the U.S. Forest Service where we’re able to parlay money in a three-to-one match to make these dollars go farther. We also work with the LDWF where this agency does work on our wildlife management areas along with several programs and grants to enable us to work with private land owners,” said Lewis.

With all this going on in the turkey’s corner, every hunter or anyone interested in seeing what can be done to improve the lot of not only turkeys but other species of wildlife needs to seriously consider attending one of the fund raising banquets.

“This year’s North-Central chapter banquet should be a good one. Lots of folks will go home with valuable prizes and they’ll enjoy some of Bill Cox’s grilled rib-eye steaks with all the trimmings,” Lewis added.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. For ticket information, contact Lewis at 318-423-7777.

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