With the deer hunting seasons quickly drawing to a close and some time remaining before thoughts turn to turkey hunting, many hunters look for additional opportunities to hunt.
Certainly small game hunting is still an option, but another corps of hunters seek something different.
These hunters want to use state-of-the-art guns and equipment for a hunting option often using proactive calling techniques, stealthy stalking and ground blind concealment (natural or artificial) with lots of opportunities to shoot. The chances to shoot can come at short ranges or more precision targeting at long ranges.
The hunting opportunities described here involve the pursuit of so-called nuisance animals, as defined by the state MDWFP Wildlife Bureau. The following species are defined as “nuisance animals” in Mississippi by Public Notice LE6-3779: beaver, coyote, fox, nutria, skunk and wild hogs.
Nuisance and predator hunting
In practicality some of the species delineated as nuisance animals are not actively sought out or hunted at all.
Frankly I have yet to run into a hunter who scouts or seeks out skunks. I’d be the first to pass on that hunt.
Though beaver are plentiful across most of the state, they are not hunted as we might chase other official game species. Beaver may be trapped, but it’s rarely hunted per se, though the possibilities are certainly available. Perhaps we should do this, considering the trouble they cause on private lands.
Certainly, the other species on the nuisance list are highly sought-after in some sectors of the state by a growing number of hunters. More and more is being learned every year about the out-of-control wild hog situation, and hunters are starting to take up hog hunting as a solo sport once deer hunting is set aside for the year.
Predator hunting has been around forever, of course, but still I do not meet too many hunters going after foxes or coyotes as their only terminal target.
However, with Mississippi’s own game-call company — Primos Hunting — producing all types of predator game calls and other related hunting accessories, interest in predator, varmint and nuisance animal hunting is gaining some ground among all hunters.
Without a doubt, the extra hunting opportunities are out there, fully available to licensed hunters looking for some additional action all year long or as open seasons permit. Hunters just have to do a little research to find out what is allowed on public and private lands across the state.
Strategies for hunting nuisance animals or predators is a science all its own, without space here to cover all the aspects. Hunters can tune into the Internet, DVDs, YouTube videos and other informational sources to learn more about the how-to of this type of hunting. It’s definitely a challenge I recommend all hunters look into.
Calibers and guns
Having just written above what I did about tactics and strategies taking much more space to detail, I guess the same could be said about what guns and gear to use. There are volumes written on the subject.
But here is a very short course on the subject.
“When I am varmint, predator or nuisance animal hunting, I most often use one of my bolt-action deer rifles,” said James Bailey of Brandon. “My favorite is the .243 Winchester. With 100 grain bullets, it has plenty of terminal power on these types of targets.
“I like to sit on the edge of an open field or cutover using natural cover. I use predator calls and scan the area constantly for a reaction. This type of hunting is a lot of challenge; you have to be on your toes.”
A lot of nuisance wildlife hunters use their regular deer rifles. About any viable cartridge, from the .22-250 to the .223/5.56 range through the 300 Magnums, could theoretically be used, depending on recoil sensitivity (there’s the potential to shoot a lot).
Bullet weights from as light as .32-40 grains in a .204 Ruger to 150-plus grains in the .30 calibers work.
One has to consider a degree of overkill in this type of hunting, too. The upper end magnums are not really necessary.
With the soaring popularity of the AR-15 type “black rifles,” a whole new excitement has entered the field of nuisance wildlife hunting. The ARs typically are chambered for the .223/5.56, generally using a 55-grain bullet.
ARs are also chambered in other great rounds perfect for nuisance hunting. These include the 6.8SPC, the 300 AAC Blackout, 300 Whisper, 7.62x40WT, 6.5 Grendel, .50 Beowulf and even the 7.62x39, to name a few.
There is certainly no shortage of uses for the AR in myriad platform configurations for nuisance wildlife hunting.
Nuisance animal hunting can be a gap filler or a year-round pursuit. Whatever hunters want to make of it, the challenges are there.
And plenty of nuisance species can be found throughout the state on public and private lands. So just go for it.