March 15, 2013 10:46:52 AM
JACKSON -- Some hunters who use modern rifles may no longer have to sit out primitive weapon deer season in Mississippi. A bill that would allow hunters to use weapons of choice on private land during this brief part of deer season is headed to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant.
Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock said he expects the governor to sign the bill into law.
House Bill 1139 would apply only if the hunter is the landowner or is leasing the land, a member of a hunting club, or a guest. The bill would not apply to public lands. If a license is required, the hunter would still be required to purchase that license.
Deer season in Mississippi generally lasts from October to February, varying by region. The period for deer hunting with primitive weapons varies by region, ranging from about two weeks long to about six weeks long.
"A lot of people didn't have the money to buy one of these weapons," said Rep. Ken Morgan, R-Morgantown, one of the bill's authors. "This gives you a weapon of choice, so if you want to hunt with one of those rifles, you can still use that type of weapon, but if you want to carry a 7mm Magnum, you can hunt with it also."
Morgan said the primitive weapons include certain types of rifles and shotguns that can cost up to $900, and not all hunters want to spend the money or enjoy using them. He said the primitive weapon season alienated older hunters who didn't feel comfortable using those types of rifles, as well as families that might not be able to afford purchasing several new weapons so they can hunt together. Primitive weapon season also includes crossbows.
"Our kids are either sending text messages or playing computer games," said Morgan, vice chairman of the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee. "We've lost a generation who don't care a thing about hunting. But once you show them the enjoyment of hunting and being out in nature, you show them what they're missing."
Morgan said the deer population needs to be controlled to prevent the spread of disease, and allowing different types of weapons during the primitive weapon season would get more hunters involved.
The bill would not affect hunters until after Nov. 30, 2014. Morgan said this would give stores that sell the primitive weapons enough time to unload some of their inventory, since they anticipate lower demand after it goes into effect.
■ Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks: mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting.aspx