Longer squirrel season, increased bag limits suggested

Published 2:59 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

By Hunter Cloud

The Daily Leader

Squirrel hunter Barry Sullivan stepped up to the podium at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to suggest two things, increase the daily bag limit of squirrels and the opportunity to train squirrel dogs with a longer season. 

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Sullivan’s best dog Buddy is 11 years old. Commissioner chairman Bill Cossar said “If Buddy is around then a squirrel ain’t got a chance. He doesn’t play.”

Currently, Mississippi’s two squirrel seasons are split into fall and spring. The fall season runs from October 1 through February 28 and the spring season lasts from May 15 to June 1. 

Raccoon hunters are allowed to hunt from July 1 to September 30 with one coon per party per night. Sullivan said the raccoon summer season is essentially a dog training season and he would like the same opportunity. 

In addition, he asked if the commission would consider extending the fall season at least one more week. Right now, state statute limits the squirrel season to the current frameworks. Other states have a later fall closing date near Mississippi. 

“Tennessee allows for 15 days for squirrel hunting with dogs after February 28, Alabama added a week. It would allow those who might not be able to hunt during the week in February at least one more weekend to hunt. I see no reason why we can’t extend our season with dogs,” Sullivan said. “If turkey season is moved back, why can’t we move squirrel season back. I don’t think it would negatively impact the resource. I would ask us to add at least another week for squirrel season in fall. I would like to possibly increase the bag limit too and go from 8 squirrels to 10. There are times where the game moves well and it is a special day and we would like to harvest more.” 

Commissioners William Mounger and Leonard Bentz asked Wildlife Bureau Chief Russ Walsh to explore some options to lengthen the squirrel season and possibly increase the bag limit. A change in the season would have to come from the legislature amending the statute.