Proposed Mississippi migratory bird, deer season dates announced

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023

OAKLAND — Dove season is officially 141 days away and is the kickoff of the 2023 to 2024 hunting seasons. Houston Havens, MDWFP migratory bird program director, said the south zone season will open on September 2, which is the Saturday before labor day. 

He listed all of the migratory bird season dates as a proposed rule before the MDWFP commission. These dates are set by the department within a framework given by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and were accepted by the MDWFP commission Thursday. They will now enter a 30 day public comment period. 

September Geese season, open only for Canada Geese, will run from September 1 to September 30. Havens said they have 16 days for early teal season and the blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal will be open to hunting from September 9 to September 24. 

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Rails and Gallinules will be open September 1 to October 1 and then from November 23 to December 31. Snipe will be open from November 14 to February 28. Woodcock will be open from December 18 to January 31. 

Duck season dates are as late as allowed and will maximize weekends with the three splits, Havens said. Opening day of duck season will be November 24 to November 26 and the second split will be open from December 1 to December 3. The final and longest split will be from December 9 to January 31. 

“It would literally take an act of congress to ever push the season past January 31,” Havens said to the commission at Thursday’s meeting. The reason they do not extend the season further is due to biologically paired birds and birds who would be hunted a second time as they fly north for the spring. 

Other challenges to extending the duck season are due to agricultural lands in Mississippi providing habitat. Havens said farmers are already getting antsy on removing water from fields by February and extending the season would be an issue there. 

Mississippi’s 2022 to 2023 waterfowl season answered questions hunters had, Havens said. A cold snap in late December helped push birds further south to Mississippi. “It was a good thing for us,” he said. 

The youth, veteran and active military weekend duck hunt will be on February 3 to February 4. Geese season, including blues, Ross’s, Brants, snow and Canada geese, would open from November 10 to November 26 and align with the duck season the rest of the year. 

William McKinley, deer program director, said there would be minimal changes to the season dates this year. Velvet season will be open from September 15 to September 17. It is legal buck only and hunters must report harvests and submit samples for Chronic Wasting Disease testing. 

McKinley said the inaugural velvet season this past September was a success. Hunters bagged 629 bucks which resulted in 629 CWD samples collected to aid surveillance efforts of the infectious and always fatal disease. 

One change being made is the combination of the Northeast, East central and Southwest Deer Management Areas into one area. 

“There have never been any differences. We are combining them for simplicity sake, all seasons structure stays the same,” McKinley said. “Archery will open on September 30 due to our state statute. October 1 falls on a Sunday and the season opener has to be pushed back a day to Saturday.”

Proposed migratory birds and deer season dates were accepted and will enter a 30 day public comment period. MDWFP will make an official vote at their May commission meeting. 

License sales

Jason Thompson, director of administrative services, gives the most important update each commission meeting, how much the department is bringing in license sales and revenue. Commission Chairman Bill Cossar has said in the past 90 percent of the MDWFP funding comes from license sales and revenue. 

Thompson said revenue is up $1,000,000 compared to the previous fiscal year. Resident license sales are up $56,000 and non-resident sales are up $996,000. In FY2023, MDWFP sold $18,205,481 in license sales. The fiscal year ends and starts in July for the MDWFP. 

“Revenue has increased because of higher fees and more licenses sold. Velvet season really helped,” Thompson said. 

Velvet season permits are $10 for residents and $50 for non-residents.