Saturdays are always special to school kids, but there is one weekend in particular that means so much more to thousands of Mississippi youngsters.
It comes this week.
The youth deer season, when firearms are allowed, opens Saturday statewide. Children aged 15 and under will be allowed to use their weapon of choice to take both bucks and does through the end of all gun seasons.
Excited? You bet, as one father can attest.
“Forget football. Forget computer games. Forget sleeping late,” said Fred Emerson of Brandon, who laughed about how his son, Freddie, 13, was approaching the weekend. “All he has talked about this week is deer camp and deer hunting. Last night (Tuesday), he asked me if we had deer steaks or deer burgers we could eat Saturday night at camp.
“I said no, because we ran out in the freezer a few weeks ago. He said, ‘don’t worry, Dad, I’ll get us one Saturday morning and we’ll eat it all weekend.’”
Little Freddie has every reason to be confident. Conditions are excellent leading into the gun season.
“Our food plots are plush, really green and they’ve been hit pretty hard,” Fred Emerson said. “We got some areas that have been eaten down almost to the ground, while our test areas (blocked to deer) are nearly knee deep.
“We have a few bow hunters in camp and they say the deer are also still feeding heavy on acorn trees. Apparently we had a reduced acorn crop this year but the trees that are dropping are attracting a lot of traffic. Looking at the trails and cam photos, I think the deer are hitting the acorns on their way from their bedding area in thick cutover to the fields.”
That left the Emersons wondering where to start.
“I know we can go sit on a green patch, one where the wind is right, in the afternoon and Freddie can take a doe,” Fred Emerson said. “There’s no doubt about that. But Saturday morning I’m thinking about hunting in a ground blind on a ridge overlooking a small acorn flat that is loaded with acorns.
“If the rain hasn’t spoiled those acorns on the ground then I think that is out best chance for him to get a buck this weekend. We’re going to look at it Friday afternoon and if I find a good spot, we’ll put the pop-up up to hunt in on Saturday morning.”
Conditions should be ideal. A perfectly timed cold front hit Mississippi mid-week that is forecast to bring a light frost over most of the state on opening morning of the youth season.
“When we watched the weather Wednesday night before dinner and they said the lows would be in the 30s Saturday morning, my little boy was kind of disappointed,” said George Reynolds of Grenada. His new stepson Phil, 10, will be hunting for the first time. “When I explained to him what that meant, about how the deer will be more active, he got excited again and started talking to his mother about finding him plenty of warm clothes.”
Youth may use any modern firearm and are allowed to harvest one buck with hardened antler and one doe per day, not to exceed three bucks and five does the entire deer season. The spread and main beam antler criteria do not apply to youth hunters.
MDWFP reminds hunters that beginning Saturday (Nov. 9) all hunters, including archery hunters, must wear hunter orange unless they are inside a fully enclosed stand.