SuperTalk Mississippi

What opening day of hunting season means in Mississippi

Dove hunting

It was opening day of dove hunting season in 1971. I was six years old and had a Stevens single-shot .410 shotgun. I remember getting checked by a conservation officer in Webster County. He wanted to see my gun’s plug. Confused, I looked at my father and said, “I don’t know what that is.” Everyone laughed.

Opening day of squirrel season eventually became my favorite, especially as my hunting knowledge slowly grew. Both of my grandfathers were big hunters. Grandfather Cummins had a small squirrel dog named Big Boy.

Grandfather Herring had a farm in Montgomery County called the Herring Place, which had been in our family since 1833. My favorite spot at the Herring Place was the swamp. It was covered in huge white oaks, cypress trees, cane thickets, and creek runs. My .410 didn’t have enough oomph to take out a squirrel on one of those massive cypress trees, but I would still optimistically try.

But now, opening day to me is more of a reflection of how far we have come in wildlife conservation by being able to sustainably harvest game.

Our forefathers had the vision to set up a system of fish and wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing that was vastly different than what had previously existed in England and other countries where early settlers came from. There, kings owned the fish and wildlife and had the right to take them.

Early in our nation’s history, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this “property” that once belonged to the king now belonged equally to the people and was to be held in public trust. Unfortunately, some of our state’s leaders still don’t understand this.

Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, others, and several dedicated Mississippians – L.Q.C. Lamar, Key Pittman, and Fannye Cook, to name a few – led the way to create a system of conservation and ethical hunting that is now the envy of the world. It did not happen by accident. As hunters, we must always remember and recognize that hunting is a privilege. How people view hunting and how we take care of wildlife habitat and wildlife health will determine its future.

The two greatest threats to hunters are anti-hunters and misguided government officials trying to destroy the very system of conservation and hunting our forefathers gave their lives for.

For Mississippi specifically, there is no difference between our federal government proposing to eliminate hunting and archery programs in schools and state leaders working to legalize the sale of wildlife for the benefit of a few politically powerful individuals. There’s also not much of a difference when it comes to the state not doing everything it can to conserve and protect the health of our deer herd.

The simple truth is that all these actions – or lack thereof in the case of conservation – would erode hunting as we know it and eventually initiate a major economic loss to the poorest state in the nation.

As we all prepare for another hunting season, please remember this. Please respect the animals you hunt and act in a way that allows society to respect you as a hunter. There are many smart people out there today who think hunting should end. Don’t give them a reason to act.

Opening day and the weeks that follow are a chance to give your children and grandchildren the same experiences my father and grandfathers gave me. If we all abide by what former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts said – “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking” – I am confident hunting in Mississippi will last for many years to come.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of SuperTalk Mississippi Media.

Stay up to date with all of Mississippi’s latest news by signing up for our free newsletter here

Copyright 2024 SuperTalk Mississippi Media. All rights reserved.

Related posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More