• February 2014 - Volume 16, Number 7

    Features

    The 2013-14 hunting season started fairly slowly, but the big boys came out when cold fronts began to push through the state. Here’s a rundown of the biggest bucks killed during the season.

    The 2013-14 deer season opened with what most hunters in Mississippi love to see — fairly cool weather. So expectations were high, especially since cool fronts moved through the state on a regular basis throughout the early season.

    We at Mississippi Sportsman braced for the avalanche of big bucks we’ve come to expect over the several years.

    And then — not much happened.

    Sure, there were some nice deer taken, and one of those was a pending Warren County record.

    Hunters can thank 2012 hatch for an abundance of gobblers, which should translate to good hunting this spring.

    March can be unpredictable, being warm one moment and cold.  

    No matter the weather, however, the ides of March will usher in the opening of turkey season, and, with it, all the pinnacles of joy and pits of despair that only true turkey hunters can appreciate. For the coming season the outlook is bright, the pits should be few, and hunters should enjoy many mornings listening to the music of the dawning woods.

    “The real good news is that 2012 was a great hatch statewide, the best we had seen in several years,” said Dave Godwin, Turkey Program Coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “Therefore, we expect to see very good numbers of 2-year-old gobblers statewide during the 2014 season. That, of course, is good news as the 2-year-old birds tend to gobble more and be more susceptible to harvest. The 2014 turkey season should be good for all regions of Mississippi.”

    In Bolivar County, a man known as Radish shares his secrets to producing giant Missisippie River blue cats.

    Editor’s Note: The second stop on our year-long Catfish Hotspots tour takes us to Bolivar County to explore the legend of what many believe could have been the world record blue catfish and the man who caught and released it in the Mississippi River. 

    After only a few minutes talking to John Summers, you immediately get the impression that’s he a man with nothing to prove. From the massive deer on his office wall to the breathtaking photos of a behemoth, better-than-world-record-class blue catfish that Summers caught — and released — on Dec. 1, 2007. 

    Summers, who most people in Bolivar County simply refer to as “Radish,” pursues his outdoor passion for his own satisfaction, which is what makes his story so undeniable.

    On the fateful day, Summers was fishing alone on the Mississippi River that borders Bolivar County, where two weeks earlier, the angler had hooked, and lost, a possibly equal-sized brute. 

    Squirrel initiative promotes fun and education for children

    Take a dozen or more eager youth, add a half-dozen feisty dogs with an eagerness to squirrel hunt, mix in a few adults who love being with kids and dogs in the woods, add a dash of surprise, season with a brace of bushy-tails, and you have the perfect recipe for a Saturday of fun in the February woods. 

    No need to be too quiet, the dogs will be out front doing the hunting, just one of the grand things about squirrel hunting with dogs.

    For most hunters dragging 60 or pushing 70, squirrels were the top game hunted during their youth. For today’s youth, who are accustomed to the fast-paced world of gaming and social media, it may be the least boring of all hunting venues. They can walk in the woods, marvel at sights and sounds, discover new things, shoot guns, watch dogs, listen to men talk of hunts past and present, and feel included as active participants.

    Tricks learned in the Western Gulf help this Biloxi angler find big wintering specks right here at home.

    Capt. Travis Paige of Biloxi grew up fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and has had years of successful trips going with the flow of local knowledge.

    In 2010, Paige, of Goin’ Coastal Charters, and long-time friends, Glenn Ellis and Patrick Martino, made a trek to south Texas in search of a double-digit trout. They didn’t catch the ten-plus speck they were searching for but Paige came close with a 9-pound 6-ounce monster.

    What they learned on that first expedition and subsequent trips changed the way the three anglers approach fishing their beloved coastal waters. Sure, they still make trips to fill the cooler because, like most of us who call the coast home, they love to eat trout. Most trips, though, are in search of that elusive giant they know swims somewhere in Mississippi’s coastal waters.

    Read the stories of some of the biggest bucks -- like this 180-inch brute -- killed during the 2013-14 season.