No major changes were included in the 2013-14 hunting seasons proposed Wednesday (April 17) by the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks at its monthly meeting in Jackson.

But, hunters can look forward to about as late a start to the gun season on deer as is possible under state law.

"That's the biggest deal in the package," said Chad Dacus, the assistant chief of wildlife and the deer project coordinator for the state agency. "This is one of those years where the calendar is a little quirky and Thanksgiving is about as late as it can be, and since the gun season always starts on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving, then the gun season is also extremely late.

"The gun season will open on Nov. 23, and that first segment will also be short, since it has to close by statute on Dec. 1."

On the flip side, hunters get a later close to the gun season, with it running through to Jan. 22 statewide.

"Same amount of days, just a little bit later," Dacus said. "All the other seasons, small game and big game, are about normal."

Of course, the Commission could only act on state controlled seasons, and could not propose any migratory bird hunting regulations. Dacus said those would come later in the summer as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service begins its framework process.

Deer hunters will see a few other changes in the 2013-14 seasons, thanks to legislative action taken this spring.

"Obviously, there will be some differences regarding archery hunting," Dacus said. "First, during any open archery season all hunters will be allowed to use crossbows for the first time.

"That same legislation also insures that archery will be allowed during all gun seasons, something that hasn't been insured since the attorney general's opinion three years ago. Now, there is a part of the Mississippi Code that states that archery equipment, and that includes both regular bows and crossbows, will be legal during any gun season."

That AG's opinion was that just because the wildlife agency always accepted that bows were legal during gun season, the law as written did not. But, in the same announcement, the AG said that state wildlife officials did possess the power to set special seasons as needed to manage wildlife.

For the past three years, the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks had established a special archery season that ran from the end of the archery season set by statute through the end of all gun and primitive weapon seasons.

"We don't have to do that any more," Dacus said, "and that's a good thing for all bow hunters. They are insured the use of their bows all season."

Dacus also pointed out that the other major legislative change this spring will not affect the 2013-14 season. Beginning with the 2014-15 season, hunters on most private lands will be able to use regular guns during all primitive weapons seasons that start after Nov. 30.

"That will not be the case this fall and winter, but in the future, yes, that will be a big change," Dacus said.

As soon as the Secretary of State's office finishes the paperwork, all proposed small and big game seasons will be posted on the agency's website, mdwfp.com.