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Natchez State Park offers youth hunt in February

NATCHEZ — From Feb. 6 to Feb. 28 Natchez State Park is offering the opportunity for kids under the age of 16 to get out and hunt squirrels only on Saturdays and Sundays.

These dates are chosen, because deer season is over this Sunday park manager Neil Hayes said. The deer hunting areas become the place where kids can hunt squirrels at the park he said because of the limited acreage for the Wildlife Management Area portion of the park.

Any adult who has a valid Mississippi Hunting License must accompany kids for the hunt Hayes said, and the adult must also be 21 years of age. From his experience, the hunt has not been as popular he said as the water, and fishing activities the park has in the summer.

“Sometimes we don’t even have people who show up,” Hayes said. “It is not real popular over here at this Wildlife Management Area, but we do try to provide an opportunity for the youth.”

It is an opportunity Hayes said kids could spend quality time with whomever is taking them, and an opportunity to learn how to hunt. If a hunt is successful, Hayes said kids who participate could learn how to clean the squirrel and cook the squirrel.

Natchez’s State Park’s youth squirrel hunt means you do not have to be a member of a hunting club, or private land to get out and hunt, Hayes said.

Natchez State Park offers the opportunity at a limited cost, as the park only requires the adult accompanying the child to have a Wildlife Management Area User permit. These permits cost just $15 and can be bought online or at the park office.

Hunters must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of orange and hunters must also check into the park office located by the lake at Natchez State Park.

Rick Hamrick, who is the small game program leader for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, said at this point in the season squirrels can be found along the ground.

“You will encounter them more along the ground, with all the acorns and other nuts having fallen,” Hamrick said. “You may have to switch tactics a little bit and be a little more patient. If you are walking up you may be scaring them up. You of course may have to sit down, and wait for things to calm down for them to come back out. “

Common guns used for squirrel hunting he said are shotguns and .22 rifles, but Hayes said only shotguns could be used at Natchez State Park.

Hunters need to practice proper safety when shooting at squirrels on the ground, Hamrick said. The best shot size for squirrel hunting is four to six shot Hamrick said, but seven and a half size shot works as well if they are at a closer range.

Like other small game hunts, he said squirrel hunting is a great opportunity for young hunters. Unlike deer hunting, where kids have to sit still and quiet, Hamrick said kids can be noisy and it is full of action.

“It is not a requirement to sit still for a very long time,” Hamrick said. “You can move around a little bit, there is a fair amount of action. I think that is one of the big attractions for kids, to get them interested in it.”

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