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July is for the opportunistic...

July is for the opportunistic outdoorsman

By: Ben Smith - July 5, 2024

  • Outdoor columnist Ben Smith says there’s always the opportunity to take a stab at the greatest delicacy of the swamp during a Mississippi summer – the bullfrog.

It’s about this time each year that I start to count the days until I’m able to put an arrow in the pump station of America’s top big game animal. We are a little over halfway there from the end of last season to the beginning of this season. To be exact, at the time of this being written, we are 93 days away from the October 1st archery opener. For those of you south of highway 84, you’ll have to wait a couple of more weeks until the 15th. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to pass the time.

Aside from sweating your tail off and fishing, July is a tough month for outdoor activities down here. Speaking of fishing, the MDWFP has declared July 4th a “free fishing day.” What this means is that you can legally fish public waters in the State of Mississippi on that day without a fishing license. But don’t roll up to a state lake without your wallet, you’ll still have to purchase a permit to fish those waters for the day. Be mindful of limits for your targeted species, for I’m sure there will be plenty of law enforcement checking coolers.

If you can stand the mosquitoes, there’s always the opportunity to take a stab at the greatest delicacy of the swamp during a Mississippi summer, the bullfrog. Something that I’ve never thought of until now popped up in my head: What type of license do you need to catch frogs? After a quick online search, it seems as though you can hunt frogs with either a valid hunting or fishing license in Mississippi. The limit on these slimy, delicious amphibians is 25 per night. If you catch 25 in a night be sure to email me with your whereabouts. Keep in mind though, that bugs are attracted to light and the easiest way to catch these critters is with a light on your head, thus putting the bugs in your face. The rewards for this suffering are great if you can push through.

You’ve also got about two weeks left to try your hand (literally) at handgrabbing catfish in Mississippi. It’s a little late in the season but think of it like you would the post-rut. There will still be some fish in holes if you can find them. This is an activity best done with a buddy. Not just for the opportunity for success, but mostly for safety. We’ve already lost several Mississippian’s this summer due to water involved accidents and dying alone trying to pull a big catfish out of a hole just seems silly. 

If you’re a glutton for punishment, there’s still the opportunity to get your property ready for the upcoming deer season. Now is a great time to start surveilling your deer via camera if you choose to do so. I enjoy watching the growth phase from now until October on our trail cameras. I don’t put much stock on trying to pattern a buck during this time of the year because the food sources will change between now and the season opener. But it is neat to see what’s lurking around your property during the summer. We even got pictures of a bear a couple of years ago with summer cameras. The bear was gone by September, so we’d never have known he was there without running them during the summer months. 

If you’re the type of person that hates the summer and is just waiting for hunting season to arrive, there’s something for you too. Each year the Mississippi Wildlife Federation hosts the Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza in Pearl, Mississippi. The dates for this year’s show are July 26th-July 28th and will be held at the Clyde Muse Center. You can get additional information regarding the extravaganza at mswildlife.org/extravaganza/. 

I’d never gone to one of these shows until a couple of years ago and now that I’ve been I never want to miss another. If you can dream it up, it will be there. From hunting to fishing and land management to tree stands, there is a vendor for all. In addition to all of the vendors, there are also live demonstrations for fishing and retriever dogs. Have a big buck you want scored and entered into the Magnolia Records Program? That will be there, too. Upstairs at the Muse Center, there will be a several celebrities from the outdoor world, including cooking extraordinaire, Stalekracker. And that’s not even the best part!

Southern Drawl will have a booth upstairs for all of you to come by and throw tomatoes at me. In all seriousness, if you do come to the extravaganza, and you should, please come by and introduce yourself. It’s always great to meet the folks that read my weekly blatherings.

About the Author(s)
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Ben Smith

A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Ben played baseball at William Carey University before joining the coaching staff at WCU, where he’s spent the last 16 years. He also serves as a History Instructor in the WCU School of Arts and Letters. During the Covid shutdown in 2020, he began the outdoor blog “Pinstripes to Camo”. The blog quickly grew into a weekly column and was awarded as the #1 Sports Column in the state by the Mississippi Press Association. During that time, “Pinstripes to Camo” also became a weekly podcast, featuring various outdoor guests from around the country, and has grown into one of the top outdoor podcasts in the Southeast.
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