Jonathan Thames was wearing a big smile Friday while stocking up on 20-gauge 7½ shotgun shells at a sporting goods store in Flowood, and he was as happy as a high school kid on the final day of school.

“Hey, I’m so happy that we finally got a break from the heat and that it happened right before rabbit season,” said Thames. “I wasn’t planning on hunting until it cooled off some, then we get this right before it opens. Yeah, buddy, we’re hunting tomorrow.”

Mississippi’s statewide rabbit season opened Saturday (Oct. 13). It will continue through Feb. 28.

“A week ago, what was it, like 92 degrees and felt like a 102,” Thames said. “Today’s it’s 75 and at daylight tomorrow when we turn the dogs loose it’s supposed to be about 58. That’s a big difference, not just for me in my briar-busting coveralls but also for my dogs. They can run a lot longer and I can walk a lot longer.

Rabbit hunters aren’t the only sportsmen happy about the change in weather.

“The difference it made in a tree stand this morning was unreal,” said Bernie Rogers of Madison. “I was able to hunt from sunup until 11 a.m. without breaking much of a sweat. Mosquitoes weren’t so bad either, but I’m not sure the weather had much to do with that — I took two Thermacells with me. They’ve been so bad this month, every day.”

More deer hunters can join the action on Monday (Oct. 15) when the bow season opens in the Southeast Zone, but don’t be surprised if most of the archers in that area delay the start a day or two.

“Yeah, Monday’s high is going to be back around 90 degrees — No thank you,” said Ryan Williams of Hattiesburg. “The forecast is supposed to be a lot cooler and maybe a little wetter on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve waited this long; I can wait a few more days.”