Fall squirrel season is hard to predict

Squirrel season began Oct. 1 and ends on Feb. 28.
Squirrel season began Oct. 1 and ends on Feb. 28. Associated press

The 2016-17 Mississippi fall squirrel season opened Saturday.

The season closes on Feb. 28. The bag limit is eight squirrels per day.

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks officials aren’t sure how to project the season.

Squirrel population numbers may be different in some parts of the state. Hardwood mast crops ranged regionally from very good to poor last year. A poor mast crop could indicate fewer squirrels this season. Fall populations could be boosted by young squirrels produced during late summer.

Mast crop abundance will vary somewhat again this year, but it appears that acorn crops should be good.

“It is hard to predict exactly what kind of season it will be until we get a little way into it. Hunting success last season turned out better overall than expected at this time last year,” MDWFP small game biologist Rick Hamrick said in a press release.

“Portions of Central and Southeast Mississippi seemed to slump a little last season, so some of those areas may still show a lag in squirrel numbers this season.”

Many of Mississippi’s open public lands and wildlife management areas across the state offer squirrel hunting opportunities. Hunters should generally look for areas with mature hardwood forest cover. These areas provide the best squirrel hunting opportunities.

Many public areas also allow small game hunters to hunt with dogs. Anyone planning to hunt public land should read the regulations. Some areas may have season dates and rules that differ from general statewide regulations.

The state has two game species of squirrels: Eastern gray squirrel and eastern fox squirrel. Both species are found throughout the state, but gray squirrels are the most widely distributed and most numerous.

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones