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A Modest Duck Hunting Proposal: Make the Last Day of January the End of the Season?

Brian McCombie

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R- Miss) has introduced a new bill of great interest to waterfowl hunters, S. 2942, “The Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans Act.”

Essentially, S.2942 addresses two Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith Proposed Duck Extensionareas of waterfowl hunting. First, the bill would set aside the first weekend in February for duck hunting by youths, veterans, and active duty members of the Armed Forces and National Guard.

Second, the bill would change the close of the federally regulated duck season framework from the current “last Sunday in January” to January 31 every year.

As Sen. Hyde-Smith explained in a press release on the new bill, “Mississippians, for the most part, appreciate U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management of our wildlife refuges and other natural resources. But for all its good work, this federal agency hasn’t provided any good rationale for blocking a simple proposal: change the close of the federal duck season framework from ‘the last Sunday in January’ to January 31.”

As the press release noted, “For years, the Mississippi Flyway Council has requested that Fish and Wildlife approve this modest change, which would provide certainty in hunting schedules and prevent the loss of nearly a week during late hunting season depending on when the last Sunday in January falls on the calendar.”

S.2942 is not another federal mandate, “It is about states’ rights, and allowing states in the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways to set an annual deadline that best meets their needs.”

Not only would this change add a few more days to the hunting calendar, S.2942 could have some very positive waterfowl conservation benefits.

“If enacted, it would benefit duck populations and duck habitat nationwide as additional revenues generated from ammunition sales are sent to state wildlife agencies to support habitat conservation and hunter education programs. In addition, 98 cents of every additional dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps would be deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to protect and restore migratory bird habitats."

Sen. Hyde-Smith has strong connections to the land, both personally and professionally.  She told the Delta Business Journal that she grew up as a “tom-boy,” riding horses and working on the family farm.

“I loved working with the soil,” Hyde-Smith said. “And it taught me a deep appreciation for the farmer and farming. You grow your food, feed your family and farmers grow the food to feed America. That garden and that concept all those years ago really began my journey into agriculture. Farmers really do feed America.”

Her family, by the way, is a hunting family, and she knows the importance of the hunting culture in people’s lives. She is married to Mike Smith, and the two have a daughter, Anna-Michael.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith InaugarationHyde-Smith served Mississippi as a state senator from 2000 to 2012.  She was also the state’s agriculture commissioner from 2011 until April 2018, when Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant appointed her to the Senate seat vacated by Sen. Thad Cochran (who left the Senate due to health issues.)

Hyde-Smith is the first woman to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate.

According to the senator’s communications manager Chris Gallegos, S.2942 has already received support from many Mississippi sportsmen, Wildlife Mississippi, and various members of Ducks Unlimited. And Hyde-Smith wrote this bill after hearing from concerned Mississippi hunters and conservationists about this important issue.

Sen. Hyde-Smith’s bill sounds like a win-win for hunters and conservation, plus a great way to honor our American veterans who have given so much for this nation. will update the bill’s progress as it makes its way through the political process.

In the meantime, you can read about S.2942 and Sen. Hyde-Smith’s other work at her official U.S. Senate website:

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