Unfortunately for Mississippi duck hunters, the state’s 2014-15 season will end at the earliest date possible — Jan. 25 — costing waterfowlers six precious days during the peak of migration.
Mississippi’s duck season will open on Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, and continue uninterrupted through Jan. 25, the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced Wednesday.
The youth-only days were set as Nov. 22 and Jan. 31.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials established its season frameworks last week, and, because duck populations remain high and above long-term averages for most species, the agency’s most liberal frameworks will be used, allowing a 60-day season with a 6-duck daily limit.
But because the frameworks demand that the season end on the last Sunday in January, the 2015 calendar works against Mississippi duck hunters — Jan. 25 is the earliest date that the final Sunday can fall.
“Might sound trivial to a lot of people, but that is a big loss to most of us duck hunters,” said David Price of Madison, who leases land in the Delta expressly for duck hunting. “We need to hunt as deep into winter as we can to allow for the migration to push ducks in here. In a normal year, we don’t see a peak migration until late January.
“Last winter was the exception. It got cold early and stayed cold throughout the season, but what are the odds of us seeing that again.”
An upside to the early end, if there is one, is that it allowed the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to streamline duck hunting into one continuous season. In recent years, the season has opened and closed for two weekends before opening for good in early December.
“It translates into an easier season to track, but really doesn’t impact hunting as much as that ending does,” Price said. “Just seems ridiculous to me that we have to stop on Jan. 25 when Jan. 31 is on a Saturday and we could make use of that extra week. I know guys would take that last week of January off for vacation.
“I know the state is not to blame; it’s all because of the federal system.”
As Price talked, he was working on his computer, and found some good news.
“Hey, at least next year, we will get to hunt until Jan. 31,” he said. “The final Sunday in January 2016 is Jan. 31.”
The duck daily bag limit will be a total of 6 ducks with the following restrictions: no more than 4 mallards (no more than 2 of which may be females), 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 3 scaup, 2 pintail, 1 canvasback, 1 mottled duck, and 1 one black duck.
The merganser daily bag limit will be a total of five mergansers, only two of which may be hooded mergansers.
Coots will have a 15-bird daily bag limit.
The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit for ducks, mergansers and coots.
Goose seasons set, too
The Commisson on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks also announced goose season would be Nov. 13-Jan. 25 for all species.
Daily limits will be 3 Canada geese, 1 brant goose and 3 white-fronted geese, with a possession limit of three times the daily limit.
The limit on snows, blues and Ross’ geese is 20 birds in aggregate with no possession limit.
In addition to the regular hunting season, there will again be a conservation order for snow, blue and Ross’ geese during the following dates: Oct. 1–Nov. 12, Jan. 26–Jan. 30, and Feb. 1-March 31.