Lessons learned in 2020 can make for a better 2021 outdoors

Tristan Jenkins shot this 9-point buck on 3 acres in the Walker North area.

Welcome, 2021. Mississippi outdoorsmen have pined for your arrival

So, just how bad was 2020?

There are all kinds of COVID-19 coronavirus stats we can quote — tragic ones like infection rates, deaths and hospitalizations — but instead, there’s this startling fact more related to an outdoor magazine:

Gov. Tate Reeves ordered the closure of all state waters to boating and fishing, including the 33,000-acre Barnett Reservoir on April 1, when, contrary to how fishermen reacted, the governor was not fooling.

All of Mississippi’s state-managed outdoor facilities related to water recreation were shuttered as the disease began spreading through the population and people started dying. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks closed all of the gates to its state lakes and state parks system.

Sadly, the short-lived closure was just the start of absurdity that followed the rest of the year. Bans on fishing tournaments continued for weeks, and when they restarted later in the spring, certain rules had to be followed.

We learned new terms, like social distancing. Boaters who didn’t know there was such a thing as a watercraft’s capacity rating had to learn it because, when Reeves reopened boating, he restricted boats to half capacity.

We learned to deal with masks and with people who refused to wear them. There was the fear of running out of toilet paper, food and patience.

Sporting events were cancelled, seasons shortened and living within a bubble became part of sports nomenclature.

Zoom became known more as a method of holding remote classes, business meetings and family holiday gatherings, and not just a word for speed and one of the best plastic worms on the market.

There was no 2020 NCAA basketball championship or champion, and the college-football season experienced cancelled games and players allowed to opt out of playing.

NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball held games without fans in the stands, with some seats filled with laughable, life-sized cutouts of people, pets and, well, whatever the seat owner wanted.

They played the Masters in November, for God’s sake.


A new beginning

Now comes January, and with it not just a new year but also a new decade. You won’t find anyone reluctant to put 2020 in the rearview mirror, even though 2021 begins with many of the same COVID-related troubles.

One thing we learned in 2020 was that being outdoors greatly reduces one’s likelihood of contracting the disease. You could say that hunting and fishing is preventative medicine. We may need to wear a mask around the fireplace at deer camp, at boat ramps or in weigh-in lines at fishing tournaments, but at least we can hit the woods and waters.

In that spirit, this issue of Mississippi Sportsman magazine can help you start another year of outdoor adventures. Inside, you will find a plethora of information and expert tips from our writers including a fishing calendar offering three terrific options for each month of the year.

David Hawkins talks to fishermen who feel winter is the perfect time to target crappie in Mississippi. He shares places to go and tactics to try.

Deer hunting enters its final weeks, and writer Mike Giles discusses adjustments that should be considered to beat a heavily pressured buck.

Andy Douglas offers an interesting take on how to find and kill more wild hogs, vocalizing to call them within gun range.

There’s lots more inside Mississippi Sportsman, and before you start, we would like to wish our readers a very happy, successful, safe and healthy New Year and new decade.

And, please, eat plenty of black-eyed peas and cabbage. As a whole, we need a change in luck.

Still plenty of time for deer hunting

January begins in the middle of the final deer gun season with dogs statewide. It ends on Jan. 20, but there’s more hunting time to enjoy.

In all deer zones, the late primitive weapon and archery seasons run Jan. 21-31 and on private lands, hunters can still use their weapon of choice, which makes regular rifles and shotguns legal.

In the Southeast Zone only, the season continues Feb. 1-15 for legal bucks only on private lands and open public lands. On private lands, hunters can use their weapon of choice.

About Bobby Cleveland 1349 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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