Last week, federal waterfowl officials announced another banner year of blue-winged teal production, estimating over 8.5 million birds in the population, representing a slight increase over last year and 73 percent higher than the 50-year average.

This week, Mississippi’s Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced a 16-day season Sept. 12-27, with a 6-bird daily bag limit — both the maximums allowed under federal frameworks. 

“That’s great news, if the migration window hits perfectly,” said longtime waterfowler Jay Hampton of Oxford. “That’s the whole deal. The 16-day season gives us two weekends but we still need a lot of luck. If their migration falls perfectly, and the blue wings start appearing around the end of the first week in September then we’ll have a full season of great hunting.

“But a shift in time, just a week to 10 days, and it all changes. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and maybe we’ll get lucky. When it’s right, teal hunting is about as much fun as a hunter can have.”

Online Hunter Ed registration required 

With the fall hunting season now just a little over a month and three weeks away, students across Mississippi will begin taking required Hunter Education courses led by Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) instructors.

Students are now required to pre-register for courses online at www.mdwfp.com.   

There is no cost to attend a MDWFP Hunter Education course; however, Hunter Education certification is required to purchase a hunting license if you are born on or after January 1, 1972. In order to become certified in Hunter Education, persons must be at least ten years of age, complete the entire course, score 70 percent or higher on the hunter education exam, and demonstrate safety with a firearm.

“Fire on the Forty” offers burn assistance 

Prescribed fire is a very important tool for forest and wildlife management, but many private landowners are reluctant to use it because of cost and liability concerns. That’s where the “Fire on the Forty” program can help, and since its inception in 2011, it has provided cost-share funding for prescribed burning on more than 35,000 acres in Mississippi.

Cooperating partners include the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Wildlife Mississippi, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Mississippi Forestry Commission, the initiative will reimburse burning projects in selected focal counties up to 50 percent of costs for implementing and performing a prescribed burn. 

These focal counties include Monroe, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Prentiss in North Mississippi and Amite, Pike, Walthall, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Marion, Lamar, Pearl River, and Forest in South Mississippi.

Unique to this funding cycle, young longleaf pine forest, within the historic range of longleaf pine are eligible for funding through additional grants. For more information or to view a map of focal areas visit www.mdwfp.com/fireontheforty.  

Landowners must submit an application for entry into the program prior to Oct. 15 to be considered for this year’s funding. All applications will be competitively ranked based on potential habitat benefits for wildlife. 

Funding for the “Fire on the Forty” initiative is provided by the U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Mississippi Forestry Commission, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

For more information regarding the “Fire on the Forty” program, including project application forms, visit www.mdwfp.com/fireontheforty, contact John Gruchy at johng@mdwfp.state.ms.us, or call us at (601) 432-2199.