In the final five days of gun season on deer, is it still possible to kill a trophy buck or are hunters just wasting their time? Tom Webb of Jackson said the odds are sure better now than they are going to be.

“What chance are you going to have a month from now, none, right?” Webb said, stating the obvious. “Once the season closes, it’s done, finished, over, stay home and wait until next year.”

Gun season closes Wednesday (Jan. 22) statewide, and primitive weapon/archery season opens Jan. 23 and runs through Jan. 31 in the Hill and Delta Zones, and through Feb. 15 in the Southeast Zone. Children aged 15 and under can hunt with any firearm during the extended seasons.

“For me, the question of what my chances are is moot,” Webb said. “Yeah, I’m going and, yeah, I’m going to the stand every day thinking that a big buck could step up and make my day or my season. If you’re a deer nut like me, that is what you do.”

It doesn’t hurt his confidence that Webb knows where such a season-making buck is living. He’s been seeing, on the trail of, and losing to the buck for several months. On the few occasions he’s seen the buck in a hunting situation, something has always erased his chance.

“It’s a mature 10-point, 150 inches or better, and I don’t need the trail cam pictures of him from the summer or fall to look at, because I’ve got his living image forevermore burned into my mind,” Webb said. “I’ve had close calls but something always happened. He always stayed out of bow range in October and November and in gun season, the only times I ever saw him he was moving I never got a clear shot through brush or trees. I had other days where the wind was wrong and he came from a different direction. It has always been something.”

Webb has killed two bucks, a decent 16-inch 8-point with his bow and a management buck — a mature 7-point that weighed 223 pounds — and has saved his third and final buck for the big 10-point.

Like many bucks, the Webb’s big one has apparently gone nocturnal since the rut, or at least that is the hunter’s best guess.

Yet, Webb remains optimistic.

“If I don’t get him during gun season, I have arranged to borrow a .35 Whelen from a friend who will be working offshore during the primitive weapon extension,” Webb said. “If that doesn’t work, then you know what, I’ll start working on that buck again next Oct. 1.”

Legislative update

Expect a flurry of wildlife-related bills to be announced on Monday, the deadline for legislation to be introduced by both the Mississippi House and Senate.

As of Friday at 4 p.m., only a handful of bills had been introduced in the Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee and just one in the House, the latter of which has little impact on hunting or fishing.

The Senate has three bills filed that merit mention and could impact sportsmen, the biggest being S.B. 2146 that would give the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks plenary power to set limits for deer season. The Commission already has power to define legal bucks. S.B. 2085 would also impact deer limits but only for hunters aged 75 or older, allowing them to fill their annual buck limit with bucks of any antler size.

Small game hunters and trappers will want to follow S.B. 2143 that would extend the furbearing seasons — raccoon, bobcat and opossum — from Feb. 28 to March 15. Opposition to this bill is likely to come from turkey hunters. The spring turkey season opens on March 15, and the youth season a week earlier.

Among bills expected to be filed Monday (although some could be added to the list over the weekend if filed Friday), is one that would make two changes in squirrel season. There has been much support voiced for a spring (May) squirrel season after the close of turkey season, and there is similar positive reaction to a change that would end the squirrel zone structure that currently exists. Instead of having staggered starts, north to south, there would be only one zone and one opening date for the entire state. That would add two weeks to the Central Zone and four weeks to the Southeast Zone seasons.

Garavelli Conservationist of the Year

Ron Garavelli of Madison, the recently retired longtime chief of fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, has been named Conservationist of the Year by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.

Garavelli will be honored at the MWF’s President’s Reception and Banquet Feb. 22 at the Hilton in Jackson. He is among 16 people to receive recognition for their 2013 achievements. For information on the event and the entire list of winners, visit mswildlife.org.

Monday deadline for youth hunt

Youngsters wishing to learn the tradition of squirrel hunting with dogs have until Monday to apply for the 140 openings in Mississippi’s 2014 Youth Squirrel Hunting Initiative. Seven hunts will be held on Feb. 7, scattered throughout the state, with each one limited to 20 hunters aged 15 and under.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and the Mississippi State University Wildlife Extension Service, each of the free events will offer instruction in safe hunting and gun handling practices, squirrel biology and conservation, shooting at a range and, of course, a few hours in the woods with trained dogs and their handlers.

For more information, visit mswildlife.org or call the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks at (601) 432-2400.