Is hunting and fishing a right? You make the call this fall - - The News for South Mississippi

Is hunting and fishing a right? You make the call this fall

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Right now, hunting and fishing in Mississippi is legally considered a privilege. That could change in November when a constitutional amendment is placed on the ballot. If a majority of citizens vote yes, Mississippi will join 17 others states in the country that make hunting and fishing a right.

Thousands of people in South Mississippi enjoy fishing and hunting almost every month of the year. You can include Jimmy Young in that category. And he does so for several reasons.  

"Well, I primarily fish to eat. So I eat what I catch and I enjoy fishing," Young explained. "I like getting out here in nature and enjoying the weather and the sunshine and being out in God's creation." 

State lawmakers two years ago decided to place the right to fish and hunt amendment on the November ballot. There's no doubt how Jimmy will vote.  

"I've also thought it was already a right. I think it falls under the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 

Jason Bourgeois is heading out for a day of fishing. There's also no doubt how he will cast his vote. 

"It's a natural resource, especially if you own your own property I feel like you should have a right to hunt and fish," Bourgeois said. "We pay taxes and I just feel like it should be a right."

Even over the course of the next several months, there may be some debate on whether hunting and fishing a right or a privilege. One thing there is no debate about at all is that hunting and fishing is big business. 

Chuck Rosonet works at the Boot Outlet, which caters to hunters who keep the cash register busy.  

"It's a multi-billion dollar industry and it's just forever evolving. Technology is changing, everything from clothing to equipment. And it's a way of life that mostly everybody in South Mississippi, we wait for it every year," Rosonet said.

Some people don't really understand the need for any change. One of them is bait shop owner Kenny Dinero. 

"If something's not broke, why try and fix it? And I don't know that it has been broke. I don't have that much information on it. But I don't know what the difference would be by trying to change it from what we've got now," Dinero said. 

Even if the amendment passes in November, the state would still have the power to regulate the hunting and fishing industries, and collect fees for licensing.

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