Mississippi deer and turkey hunters are a step close to a mandatory harvest report system after the Senate wildlife committee amended a House bill that would establish the regulation beginning in 2019.

House Bill 1390, as amended, now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The deadline for action is Wednesday (March 7).

The two versions, passed by the House and by the Senate committee, are similar, which bodes well for the bill’s chances.

But the interesting thing about H.B. 1390 is not what it includes but what it does not— no mention of using the program for enforcement of bag limits.

 What it says: “The MDWFP shall develop, implement and regulate a mandatory harvest reporting program for white-tailed deer or wild turkey or both. The purpose of this program is to collect and compile harvest data of such quality and quantity as to be able to assist the Legislature and the Commission in formulating the wildlife resource conservation policy for the State of Mississippi.”

The original bill, as authored and introduced by House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee chairman Scott Bounds and co-author Ken Morgan, did include the line “monitor bag limit compliance by any means,” but it was stricken prior to committee vote in the House.

The bill requires that “the harvest reporting program shall be simple to use by sportsmen so as to promote compliance and accurate reporting. The program may include, but is not limited to, such means as a mobile smartphone application, online web-based reporting, or such other electronic or digital method(s) as will promote ease of use.”

H.B. 1390 would require the public to report any and all kills within four days of the harvest.

There is a line that forbids the use of appropriated funds to implement a tagging system.

Of the 40 bills assigned to the Senate and House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees, only one other remains alive.

The Senate wildlife committee has also passed H.B. 1389, written by Bounds, which would require owners of deer enclosures to apply for and receive a permit from the MDWFP. 

One Senate bill that surprisingly died on the Senate calendar was S.B. 2678 that would have regulated freshwater fishing guides. Guides would have had to apply for and obtain annual permits from the MDWFP and meet certain requirements.