Now that Mississippians have stocked up courtesy of the first Second Amendment Holiday, or tax-free weekend on hunting equipment, they will quickly get the opportunity to use it.
Saturday is the opening day of the South Zone dove season and the statewide early teal season. The timing, at least for the teal, seems to be right on cue.
“We got that cold front coming down out of Canada, and let’s hope by the time it gets here there are plenty of blue-winged teal ahead of it,” said Grant Thomas of Southaven. “Last year, because they were so late getting started nesting due to the late spring, they were late migrating and we didn’t get that many teal.
“We had another late spring, but let’s hope this big front will push them down. While a drop into the 80s doesn’t seem like much, remember it got a lot cooler up north where these birds were nesting. The first sign of cold will push these birds down.”
Well, that’s his story, and Thomas is sticking to it, with his fingers crossed.
“We got our ponds ready and we’ll be out there checking,” he said.
The limit is six teal daily, and the season ends Sept. 28.
Down in Southeast Mississippi, dove hunters are also hoping that their delayed start to the season will mean more birds. Due to Sept. 1 falling on a Monday (Labor Day), the MDWFP pushed the starting date back two weeks in the South Zone.
“I’m seeing some birds working our fields, and there seems to be a few more every day,” said Randy Curtis of Hattiesburg. “If we get lucky and don’t lose them to somebody else, like people baiting fields, then we should have a good shoot. I did notice that birds are hitting the fields early, which will make a good morning hunt when it’s cool, but I also saw that one of our fields with a water hole was pulling a lot of birds for a drink in the afternoon.
“If I don’t get a limit in the morning, I’m thinking I can fill it out by hunting the water hole that afternoon. That’s what my Dad and I have planned.”
The daily dove limit is 15, and the South and North Zone first seasons both close on Sept. 21.
Saturday is also opening day of more migratory bird seasons, albeit some of the least utilized game birds in the state. The rail and gallinule seasons will continue through to Nov. 21. The limit on sora and Virginia rails is 25 in aggregate; the limit on king and clapper rails is 15 in aggregate; and, the limit on common and purple gallinules is 15 in aggregate.