Do you know a youngster who’s itching to go waterfowl hunting but needs to learn gun safety, how to identify ducks and geese and how to shoot accurately? If so, consider the Mississippi Youth Waterfowl Hunting and Education Camp.
Houston Havens, waterfowl program director, explains, “This camp is a corporate effort between Ducks Unlimited and Mississippi’s Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Targeted at young people, primarily ages 13 to 15, who have limited or no experience with waterfowl hunting, the camp is educationally oriented and runs from Thursday evening through lunch on Sunday.”
The camp features wildlife biologists and other waterfowl experts and is an activity intensive mixture of field experience and educational seminars.
“Youngsters learn about wetland habitat and public waterfowl-hunting opportunities in Mississippi,” Havens said. “The campers visit waterfowl areas, including Wildlife Management Areas and national wildlife refuges, and see how these areas are managed for waterfowl and provide places for the general public to hunt.
“We’ll have a calling demonstration and take campers out in small groups with duck calls to call ducks and geese. Conservation officers come in and discuss the regulations for hunting waterfowl and how to hunt safely. Adults also teach the children how to put on waders we provide and how to walk safely in them. The camp offers a retriever demonstration to learn a retriever’s role in helping the waterfowler.”
The children shoot skeet to determine leads and simulate hunting waterfowl with clay targets. The Saturday of the camp is part of Mississippi’s Youth Waterfowl Season. The young people are guided on public-land waterfowl hunts to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in camp. Generally, two or three campers are with a guide in an area that the guide has scouted to maximize the campers’ opportunity to take waterfowl.
“The hunt actually reinforces what the campers have learned and practiced earlier,” Havens said. “Our guides explain what the campers are hearing and seeing, and how and why we’ve set-up the way we do in the blinds.”
The camp only takes 15 youngsters per year. Applications open in late November and early December, and the camp is held the first weekend in February. For more information, go to www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/waterfowl-program/youth-waterfowl-camp. You also can call 662-299-0273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The camp gives preference to Mississippi youngsters. However, we have had campers from other states,” Havens said.