This past Saturday and Sunday were two of the hottest days of the summer, but that didn’t stop a lot of sportsmen from getting outdoors to prepare for the hunting season.
John Reynolds of Jackson was on the Pearl River Saturday and the Yazoo River on Sunday, helping friends scout for alligators. The public water season opens on Friday statewide.
“It was hot and it was humid, and the mosquitoes were as thick as smoke,” said Reynolds, who has offered his boat to hunters lucky to be drawn in the two regions. “I fell in love with alligator hunting a few years ago, moved away, then came back this year. I did not get in the drawing — honestly, I forgot — but I was lucky enough to have friends who did.
“We found some good gators, especially over in the Yazoo area, but most of what we found we fought either at twilight or in the dark. I think the heat made the gators a little lazy in the sun. We did see some runt gator (under 7 feet, but over 4) that we can go after during the day, but the big ones were all night movers.”
The alligator season opens at noon on Friday (Aug. 29) and ends at noon on Sept. 8. Each permit holder, and there were 920 permits available statewide, is allowed to kill two gators, both over 4 feet and only one over 7 feet.
On Labor Day Monday (Sept. 1), the dove season opens in the North Zone, as well as the statewide season on resident Canada geese. Afternoon hunts will be tough, if this hot weather pattern holds.
“Oh, man, let me warn you about this weather, be very careful,” said Tom Wilson of Grenada. “A few of my friends and I went out Saturday to shoot some skeet at our camp in the Delta, and it only took about 10 minutes before we were white-eyed. I mean it was brutal.
“We set up in one spot in this field and 10 minutes later we moved over to the edge of the trees and got in the shade. That helped a little, but not much. It went from feeling like 110 degrees to feeling like 105. That’s not much change.”
Even the breezes, so consistent in the flat Delta, were torture.
“Just made it feel like a blast furnace,” Wilson said. “We were only out there about an hour and I think we went through about two big Yeti coolers of water and Gatorade.
“It was bad enough on us, but let me tell you, it was worse on the dogs. Two guys brought there Labs along, one black and one silver, and within five minutes of fetching dummies, those poor dogs were panting like crazy and we were pouring water and ice on them.”
Wilson left the field with a set plan.
“We’ll be hunting in the morning at sunrise,” he said. “Unless there’s a big change in the weather, the afternoon won’t be any fun. Of course, if we don’t get the limit, we’ll probably go back and fight through it.
“We looked at our fields around 2 o’clock Saturday and we saw a lot of birds. We did not get up there early enough to look for activity at sunrise so we’ll have to send somebody back during the week to check. I know this, everywhere I drive in the Delta, I am seeing doves on the power lines.”
The North Zone season opens Sept. 1 and closes Sept. 21. The South Zone, which is that area south of U.S. Highway 84 and east of Mississippi Highway 35, opens on Sept. 13 and ends on Sept. 21. The daily limit is 15 per hunter.
The special early Canada goose season, giving hunters a 15-day shot at resident geese, opens on Monday and runs through Sept. 15. The daily limit is five per hunter.