Make safety a priority for hunting season
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With dove season opening Sept. 5 and the first deer season opening Oct. 1, many would-be hunters are gearing up and making sure everything is safe and legal for the upcoming hunts.
Despite a state population of just under 3 million people, Mississippi is home to nearly half a million hunters, according to the most recent statistics. With so many men, women and children in the woods with bows and guns, safety is extremely important.
Bronson Strickland, wildlife specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have given more people than ever before the time to hunt, especially as outdoor activities are ideal for this time of social distancing.
“During turkey season this past spring, some states reported increased hunting and harvest because some workplaces were closed,” Strickland said. “All public lands should be open for hunting this fall and winter. Being outdoors is one of the safest activities you could engage in, assuming you take precautions if you are with other hunters.”
Knowing what precautions to take is part of the hunter education certificate required of all people born on or after Jan. 1, 1972, who want to buy a Mississippi hunting license. This course must be approved by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks -- MDWFP. A hunter education certification earned in Mississippi is accepted in all U.S. states, provinces and countries that have mandatory hunter education laws.
“With firearms and tree stands, accidents can happen quickly and can often be deadly,” Strickland said. “This educational program is designed to reduce accidents, especially for those people new to firearms and hunting.”
Whether they are hunting on private land, at a hunting club or on public land, the course teaches students how the most common accidents occur and how to avoid them. The course reviews the mechanics of firearms, including how they work and how to use them safely.
Hunter education certification is now offered completely online. Visit https://www.hunter-ed.com for more information.
The only people not required to pass the hunter safety course to get a hunting license are those hunting on lands titled in their own names.
The MDWFP sets all hunting seasons and bag limits, and it is responsible for enforcing hunting laws in the state. Deer hunters need to be aware of specific regulations aimed at limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease -- or CWD -- in white-tailed deer.
According to the MDWFP, CWD was discovered in Mississippi in February 2018.
“Since then, proactive measures have been enacted for continued surveillance and management,” MDWFP states online. “Some measures include: Supplemental feeding of wildlife, (including feeders, salt licks, and mineral licks), is banned within any MDWFP-defined CWD Management Zone.
“Only cut/wrapped meat, deboned meat, hides with no head attached, finished taxidermy products, antlers with no tissue attached and cleaned skulls or skull plates may be transported outside the CWD Zones or into Mississippi from any other state or country. MDWFP urges hunters to submit the heads of harvested deer for CWD sampling, especially if the deer was harvested in CWD Zones,” the website states.
MDWFP established three periods when there is mandatory CWD sampling of deer harvested in certain parts of the state. Find this and more information at https://www.mdwfp.com.