Mississippi’s new statewide squirrel season structure opens today, with the first day of the youth season for hunters aged 15 and under.

What will they find?

“If they can’t get a limit, at least in the area where I have been scouting for deer, then they just aren’t trying,” said Jerry Thomas of Jackson. “I’ve been out the last few weeks checking cams, finding trails, even hanging a few stands, and I’ve seen squirrels everywhere I have gone. 

“This is how good it’s been: I’ve been looking for hot acorn trees for stand locations, and seeing squirrels at a distance has led me to good places.”

Biologists are finding the same situation throughout Mississippi, ending concerns caused after last year’s colder-that-average winter.

“We expect squirrel populations to be abundant throughout most of the state, and it looks like hardwood mast crops will again be good in many areas,” said Rick Hamrick, small game biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “Although we had another cold winter, we believe squirrel reproduction was good this summer, and hunters should find plenty of squirrels.”

After a week of youth-only shooting, the regular squirrel season opens statewide on Oct. 1. This is the first time in at least five decades that the season hasn’t seen staggered starts, by zone, north to south.

“These changes will increase squirrel hunting opportunities and eliminate confusion regarding squirrel hunting zones,” said Dave Godwin, the small game coordinator for the MDWFP.

Most of Mississippi’s open public lands and wildlife management areas offer squirrel-hunting opportunities, and most allow squirrel hunting with dogs. Hunters should generally look for areas with mature, hardwood forest cover for the best squirrel hunting. Check the regulations before hunting, since some WMAs may have season dates and rules that differ from general statewide regulations.