Tim Spencer had a hard time measuring just how long he’s been waiting for Saturday (Sept. 24) to arrive.
“It’d be easy to say I’ve been looking to this day for eight years, since that’s how old my son Henry is,” said Spencer, an avid outdoorsman and a longtime fan of squirrel hunting. “But honestly, I think it’s more like 35 years, because that’s how many years it’s been since Dad and Grandpa took me on my first squirrel hunt.
“Saturday, Henry is going with me, and I hope I can be as successful with him as they were with me. That first morning, slipping off down through the bottoms, that was special and they got me hooked on hunting.”
Mississippi’s statewide youth squirrel season opens Saturday, and only children aged 15 and under can harvest squirrels. It’s not just OK for adults to go, it is mandatory. All youths must be accompanied by a licensed adult 21 years or older, or an exempt hunter aged 21 or older.
“He’s going to be shooting the same .410 single shot shotgun I used on my first trip,” Spencer said. “Actually, we’re going to be in the exact same woods where Dad and Grandpa took me, the same creek bottom. It’s still in the family and I know there’s plenty of squirrels there.”
Biologists with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks say the prospects are good, as far as they can tell.
“It is hard to predict exactly what kind of season it will be until we get a little way into it,” said Rick Hamrick, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Small Game Biologist. “Hunting success last season turned out better overall than expected at this time last year.
“Portions of Central and Southeast Mississippi seemed to slump a little last season, so some of those areas may still show a lag in squirrel numbers this season.”
According to the MDWFP, squirrel populations may be variable this hunting season in some parts of Mississippi. Hardwood mast crops ranged regionally from very good to poor last year. A poor mast crop can sometimes mean fewer squirrels the next hunting season. However, populations are often boosted by young squirrels produced during late summer.
Mast crop abundance will vary somewhat again this year, but it appears that acorn crops are shaping up to be relatively good around much of the state.
The state’s regular squirrel season for all hunters opens statewide on Saturday, Oct. 1. The limit during both the youth and regular season is eight per hunter per day.