To hear him talk about hunting, you’d think Jimmy Ray Barnes was just another one of Mississippi’s hundreds of thousands of rabid deer hunters — except he doesn’t really care about hunting big game.
“Nope, with me, it’s all about small game; always has been and always will be, I reckon,” said Barnes, a squirrel-hunter from Pascagoula. “I have always thought that hunting squirrel one-on-one is the true mark of a man’s or woman’s hunting and woodsman skills. I have hunted with treeing hounds, but honestly, I prefer just taking a single-shot .410 shotgun or a single-shot .22 rifle and going stalking in the hardwoods.”
That’s exactly what he plans to be doing as often as possible during Mississippi’s 2020 spring squirrel season which is open May 15-June 1. The bag limit is four per day per hunter, half the regular season limit.
“That’s okay; killing four is good enough if you love it as much as I do,” Barnes said. “To be honest, it isn’t that difficult hunting them, either, because all you have to do is find a budding food source, and they’re limited that time of year. You find something like a few fruiting mulberry trees, and you can get a limit every day.
“I went 10 days last year and killed 40 squirrels and on weekdays I was back in time to work at 9 a.m. with four clean, ready to eat.”
Barnes likes squirrels every way they can be cooked but is partial to having them for breakfast. A widower, he gets his way.
“If I have a tender one, of course I fry it,” he said. “If I have an older, bigger one, I’ll put in the crockpot overnight in a gravy sauce to eat over biscuits. On Sundays, I usually have a crockpot full of squirrel and gravy to take to the morning men’s church group. Shoot, I got nearly a hundred in my freezer from the winter season now. What I get in May, they’re a bonus.”