Duck season returns Saturday for one more day of hunting, and while shooting is limited to hunters aged 15 and under, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks encourages participation by licensed adults.
“It’s extremely important to the MDWFP that Mississippi hunters take the time to pass along the hunting tradition to youth who will soon be old enough to drive themselves, purchase a hunting license, and hunt on their own,” said Houston Havens, the MDWFP’s waterfowl coordinator. “State duck stamp sales allow us to annually accomplish important waterfowl habitat work both in Mississippi and on the waterfowl breeding grounds.
“This late-season youth day allows an opportunity for youth to experience waterfowl hunting when bird numbers are typically near their peaks for the season. It also provides incentive for adults to get out and set up one more time in areas where they’ve had success during the regular season.”
Regulations require that on youth day, children be accompanied by a licensed adult, 21 years or older, who can participate in all phases of the hunt except actually firing a gun.
One grandparent sees it as a perfect way to end the winter season.
“I’ve hunted since I was the age of my grandchildren, and that’s over 50 years,” said Tom Wilson of Madison. “I long ago quit duck hunting for the shooting. I go for the experience. I simply love being out there, and this time of year, especially with this whacky winter, is when we are closest to the full duck migration.
“For me, having the opportunity for one more morning in the blind with my grandsons is perfect. They get to hunt, I get to be out there and we get to have fun together.”
Hunters are encouraged to check area regulations before hunting public lands to be sure they are open for the youth waterfowl hunting day. Some areas offer limited draw hunt opportunities for youth, while others are simply open on a first-come, first-served basis.
Waterfowl regulations for the youth hunting day have the same bag limits as regular season, but youth are exempt from purchasing a hunting license, WMA user permit, and duck stamps. Non-toxic shot and shotguns holding no more than three shells must still be used.