A change in Mississippi’s waterfowl seasons give youngsters aged 15 and under an early shot at ducks on Saturday (Nov. 16) during a statewide one-day youth season.

Federal duck regulations provide states with two days of hunting for youths that can exist within or outside normal duck frameworks. In the past, Mississippi wildlife officials have used both days to make a two-day weekend in early February when migration has pushed the most ducks south.

Earlier this year, the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks opted to have two one-day seasons, with one on the weekend prior to the regular season and the other the week after. Both will be on Saturdays with the second on Feb. 1.

Waterfowl program leader Houston Havens thinks the November opportunity is valid.

“The early-season youth day allows an opportunity for youth to experience waterfowl hunting when weather conditions are milder and birds are typically concentrated on a limited amount of managed habitat,” Havens said.

All of the agency’s Wildlife Management Areas that offer duck hunting opportunities will be open for the two youth hunts.

Waterfowl regulations, including bag limits, for the youth hunting days will be the same as during the regular waterfowl season; however, youth hunters are exempt from purchasing a hunting license, WMA user permit and duck stamps. Non-toxic shot and shotguns holding no more than three shells must still be used. 

An adult with a valid Mississippi hunting license, state and federal duck stamps, and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification for Mississippi must accompany youths. If hunting on a WMA, adults will also need a WMA User Permit. 

Adults are allowed to participate in all phases of the youth duck hunt with one major exception — no one aged 16 or over can shoot ducks. The idea is to place the emphasis on the youngsters.

“It’s extremely important that Mississippi hunters take the time to pass along the hunting tradition to our younger generations,” said James Callicutt, MDWFP waterfowl biologist.