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MI: Hunting laws there to keep everyone safe

November 24, 2009

Hunting laws there to keep everyone safe

Larry Castle, game director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, said the state has laws that aim to make hunting as safe as possible.
When hunting, it’s against Mississippi law to shoot a firearm across a public road, whether it involves Wildlife Management Areas overseen by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife or land overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.

Castle was referring to an accident with injuries Sunday on Big Foot horse trail in the DeSoto National Forest in Harrison County. Authorities on Monday said the man accused of firing shots that wounded a woman and her 10-year-old child was deer hunting with dogs and allegedly shot across a public road.

While he said he was saddened by news of the accident, his agency is tasked with investigating all hunting accidents, even though the area where the shooting occurred is under jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service.

“This trail is not in the Wildlife Management Area,” Castle said. “It is in the DeSoto National Forest, and it is regulated by the Forest Service, not us. But we are investigating.”

“We do set the hunting dates and bag limits, but the trail is not on our” wildlife management area.

The accident happened a day after the opening of deer season with dogs.

It’s also a law that hunters must wear orange and properly identify the target before firing, to prevent accidents, Castle said.

When dog hunting, it is unlawful to hunt or shoot across any street, public road, public highway, railroad or in rights-of-way.

A person is determined to be hunting if he possess a firearm with a cartridge or shell in the barrel, magazine or clip attached to the firearm, or if all ammunition is not located in an enclosed compartment, container, box or garment (whether or not the firearm is in or out of a motorized vehicle) while he is on any street, public road or highway, railroad or right-of-way during the open season on deer and turkey. An unloaded muzzle-loading cap lock firearm is one with the cap removed.

“I do know you cannot shoot across a public road,” Castle said.

State law requires that all persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1972 complete a hunter education course approved by the state agency before they can purchase a Mississippi hunting license. It is unlawful to issue a hunting license to a person under age 37 who doesn’t show proof of completing a hunter education course.

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