MS Wildlife Commissioner Cited for Turkey Hunting Property Baited with Crickets

By Brodie SwisherApril 9, 20243 Comments

In recent weeks, there was a Mississippian that came up with the brilliant idea of using crickets rather than corn to illegally bait turkeys to their farm. After all, the only thing that’ll grab a gobbler’s attention more than corn, or a hot hen, is a grasshopper – or in this case, crickets.

And while it’s still unclear as to who actually baited the Mississippi property with crickets, a Wildlife Commissioner for the state has been cited for illegally turkey hunting over the field baited with crickets. 

Yes, you heard that correct. Commissioner – crickets – citation. It appears that one of the guys tasked with the duty of making the laws, has been busted for breaking the law. 

turkey flock in field

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks confirmed with Super Talk Mississippi News last Monday that it was investigating the allegations against Leonard Bentz, Jr. The very next day, the agency confirmed with the same source that Bentz was cited as a result of their investigation.

According to the report, conservation officers said the landowner and caretaker of the 500-acre plot in Holmes County had released crickets onto the property days before Bentz and his crew arrived. Bentz maintains that he had no prior awareness that the bugs had been dispersed across the land in an attempt to attract turkeys.

Bentz said he was hunting on property owned by a friend that had assured him there was no bait on the property.

“Under the law, even though I was told by officers that they knew I was not aware the crickets were on the property, I am in violation because I hunted the property where the crickets were placed,” says Bentz.

It’ll be interesting to see if ignorance to the presence of crickets holds up with officials in charge of Bentz’s position with the state. 

Baiting wild turkeys, with corn, crickets or anything else, is a clear violation of Mississippi’s wildlife code, which dictates that “any person taking a turkey out of season, and any person baiting turkeys is guilty of a Class II violation.” Punishment for such is a $100 to $500 fine and potential jail time. 

Questions to Consider

  • Was this a setup? Some might say Bentz was framed in an effort to oust him from his position as commissioner. 
  • How could you not hear the unmistakable sounds of crickets all around you? Surely it sounded like the local bait and tackle shop out there with crickets chirping everywhere. 
  • Did the landowner do the dirty work for Bentz? How does/should that change things in the way of citations? 

Check back for more on this story as it unfolds. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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