By Jacob Dykes
MSU Extension Service
The conclusion of deer season does not mean the end of Mississippi hunting adventures for the year. It is just time to swap out gear and head back to the woods.
February brings small game hunting and other new, exciting opportunities to connect with your primitive side. Mississippi squirrel and rabbit season extends to the last day of February. It is a chance to scout for signs of turkey and look for shed antlers, but most of all, it is an excellent way to introduce kids to the outdoors.
Some hunting experiences can turn kids away from the outdoors. Sitting quietly and still in a deer stand for hours with no tangible results can take a toll on their patience. Being able to move and interact during small game hunting can keep them excited. We know true success is just being out there and enjoying what nature has to offer, but it is best to provide kids with an exciting experience that will have them wanting to come back. Their true appreciation for nature will come over time.
If you have never hunted small game, especially squirrels, you may imagine the animals will be plentiful and easy to hunt. Many times while deer hunting, I have sat anxiously in the stand with my eyes painfully cutting to the right or left while I wait on the deer I hear to appear from behind me. Instead of a deer, a squirrel comes into view. Most days, I can count squirrels until I’m tired of counting, but it’s as if they know when I am actually pursuing them. They become elusive, and that is when the hunt is on.
Some people enjoy having their shotgun and small game loads in hand, while I prefer a .22 caliber rifle. Either tool is fine. Just get in the woods and enjoy.
There are a couple of different strategies you can use when pursuing small game: still hunt or stalk. To still hunt, find a comfortable tree, sit back, and wait. Or ease through the woods steadily searching. You can also trust the nose of a well-trained dog to point you in the right direction.
Pay attention to tree canopies and brush piles. Look for signs like round rabbit pellets on the ground or squirrel nests of leaves in the canopy of trees. Spending time in the woods will teach you the skills needed to be an effective small game hunter, just pay attention.
Small game hunting is one of many ways to enjoy the outdoors. Take advantage of what nature has to offer and get outside. Whether you go alone or with your family, get out there, and introduce kids to the outdoors. It will change their lives.
For more information on small game hunting and other opportunities, go tohttp://www.mdwfp.com/. Be safe!