In Southeast Louisiana, hunter Mike Williams loads his Remington 870 12-guage with 3 ½-inch magnum shells for longer shots in open areas and 3-inch magnums for dense areas with lots of cover.

But these days he finds he’s using more of the latter than he’d prefer.

The fix, he said, is a return to the prescribed burns that he recalls as common some 25 years ago. Not only is a clear shot to his liking, but the big-picture benefit of better turkey habitat would likely do wonders to boost the local populations that have struggled to recover since Hurricane Katrina.

“If more people would burn their land off in late winter, that would help dramatically,” Williams said. “Basically, poor habitat is what we’ve got. There’s so much underbrush on (private) land.”

Prohibitive cost is the usual impediment, but for landowners considering the benefits of clearing underbrush, LDWF’s Jimmy Stafford pointed to Louisiana’s Prescribed Fire Initiative — a habitat-enhancement program through which the state helps foot the bill.

“For landowners who are interested in doing something that will benefit the environment, this program can help cover some of the cost,” he said.

Stafford also acknowledged the habitat-enhancement assistance Louisiana receives through its partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.