With the goal of extending one of the state’s greatest outdoor traditions, squirrel hunting with treeing dogs, the Mississippi Youth Squirrel Hunt Initiative will hold seven events in February for children aged 15 and under.

Several public and private entities are behind the program, which offers instruction on shooting, hunting, firearm safety and conservation in a comfortable environment, followed by hours of hunting with dogs and their handlers.

“What it does is give kids who wouldn’t have this opportunity a chance to get a taste of squirrel hunting with good dogs, and maybe they will take that home with them and develop a passion for it,” said Kenny Latham, a volunteer and avid squirrel hunter. “I get a thrill out of seeing their eyes light up when the dogs tree a squirrel and they start trying to find the squirrel in the top of the tree.”

The 2014 hunts will be held Feb. 8 at Canal Section WMA, Caney Creek WMA, Copiah County WMA, Twin Oaks WMA, Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Sardis Waterfowl WMA and Pascagoula River WMA. These hunts were developed to introduce youth to small game hunting and conservation. 

The hunts are provided at no cost to participants, but registration is required and only 20 openings are available at each site.

To apply for a youth squirrel hunt, complete an application at http://mswildlife.org/events/2013-youth-squirrel-hunt by Jan. 24. All applicants must be 10–15 years of age. Applicants will be notified by email regarding space availability for each location. A parent or legal adult guardian is required to accompany youth participants. Guns and ammunition for target shooting and hunting will be provided. Completion of a hunter education course by youth participants is not required.  

For more information about the 2014 Youth Participation Initiative Squirrel Hunt, contact Chris McDonald at (601) 432-2044 or chrism@mdwfp.state.ms.us or visit mswildlife.org.