I have always compared outdoors in autumn in Mississippi to dining in New Orleans.

The connection is obvious: 

There are so many restaurants in New Orleans to choose from, with so many choices. Do you want Gumbo Ya-Ya or Shrimp and Corn Maque Choux? Rack of lamb or barbecued shrimp? Or, filet mignon stuffed with oysters? Oh man ... 

So many outdoor opportunities in Mississippi to choose from, and each one has different options. Bass fishing, or crappie fishing. Bow hunting or squirrel hunting? Dove or rabbit? Oh man ... 

So with the official first day of fall coming up on Wednesday (Sept. 23), let’s look at the full buffet of opportunities.


Choices abound 

Let’s start with fishing. About the same time we need a jacket to survive a boat run, bass begin feeding heavy to change their skinny summer bodies into fat fall footballs. On Barnett Reservoir alone, there’s largemouth, spotted, striped and hybrid-striped bass, all hitting a peak in October.

You can go topwater in the pads for largemouth, or fish deep for feisty spotted bass. Don’t forget to look for the schools of stripes and hybrids tearing up the remaining schools of shad on the main lake. 

And, of course, there’s crappie that move into the river, creeks and even ditches running into shallow waters to ambush shad moving off the open waters. Can anybody say “fish fry?”

Pick another restaurant, I mean fishing hole. 

Fall is the peak bass period on the oxbows, like Eagle, Chotard, Albermarle, Wolf, Bee ... I could use a helping of that, especially later in the month when the leaves start turning colors. 

Even bream fishermen can find a little action by moving to deeper water where the bull bluegill, beat down from a summer of guarding breeding beds, feed heavily to rebuild their strength. Late September and October is a great time to target the many state lake and state park lakes. The fishing is good all month, and the experience is enhanced by the changing colors.


Small game delight 

Now, to hunting. 

Bow season opens Oct. 1 in most of Mississippi, giving deer hunters their first taste. Of course, October is more of a small game month. Squirrel season (think dumplings) opens Oct 1, but Sept. 24-30 is youth week. 

Rabbit season (think sauce piquant) opens statewide Oct. 17. 

Dove season (think grilled, with bacon and jalapeno) is open all but two days — Oct. 8-9 — through Oct 31 in the North Zone and it opens again Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 15. 

Oh yeah, Mississippi’s menu of fall outdoor opportunities is wonderful.

Be sure to take a bite.