Ready! Aim! Release!

About 50,000 Mississippi hunters are sitting on go, ready for Thursday’s opening of the archery season, the first day that deer hunting is allowed in the state.

“Hot? Mosquitoes? Work? Doesn’t matter to me, I’m going to be in a tree that morning, count on it,” said avid archer Fred Baker of Jackson, who is counting the days. “I’ve shot probably 3,000 arrows in the past month getting ready. I have done my exercises and stretching and I’m ready to go.

“Now, if I can just find my ThermaCell and all the refills...”

Baker wasn’t joking about the ThermaCell — he has a cousin fighting West Nile, nor was he overestimating his eagerness to start the season.

“I left a buck at my place last season and he and I have an upcoming engagement; he just doesn’t know it yet,” Baker said. “He was either a 4- or 5-year-old monster last year and we danced a few times but he never gave me a shot. I could have killed him several times with a gun, and I gave it some serious thought.

“I just hope I get rewarded for my patience. I like my odds because I’ve seen him three times this month and I know his core area, and with this drought it shouldn’t be too hard to find his primary feeding areas and zero in on him. I think I know already, but I’ll find out quick from a stand.”

Oct. 1 is the opening day for both the Hill and Delta Deer Zones, but in the Southeast Zone hunters must wait until Oct. 15.

Archers are reminded to always wear a fall arrest system at all times while climbing a tree and while in the stand. Tree stand falls are now the No. 1 cause of hunting-related injuries. 

Saturday is also the opening day of squirrel season statewide. Hunters of both types should be on the watch for others while in the woods.