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CONSERVATION CORNER
(For the week of August 2, 2010)
Top 3 Mississippi Towns For Sportsmen
by James L. Cummins

Outdoor Life magazine recently ranked three Mississippi towns among “America's Top 200 Towns for Sportsmen” in its June/July 2010 issue. Pascagoula ranked 149, Vicksburg came in at 160 and Greenville took the 168 spot. The magazine used extensive data to score 200 towns on their sporting opportunities and quality-of-life issues for its third annual ranking.

“Mississippi is well-known for an abundance of beautiful outdoor spaces and ample opportunities for a variety of hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation,” said Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. “Having three Mississippi communities ranked on Outdoor Life’s list of ‘America's Top 200 Towns for Sportsmen’ reinforces our position as a prime location for outdoor enthusiasts.”

Listed among the “Go Coastal” communities, Pascagoula was recognized for sandy beaches and saltwater fishing. Outstanding deer hunting at Tara Wildlife plus fishing at Eagle Lake and the Mississippi River made Vicksburg a standout. Great duck hunting helped Greenville. The availability of outdoor activities both in and around each community was also noted by Outdoor Life.

“Outdoorsmen want world-class hunting and fishing, but like everyone else, they also want to have a high quality of life,” says John Taranto, senior editor of Outdoor Life. “The towns on this list offer the best of the outdoors as well as decent homes and schools and good-paying jobs. They are truly dream towns.”

Some sportsmen are more concerned about access to deer hunting, trout fishing, cost of living or a number of other factors, and for those sportsmen and women, Outdoor Life created sub-lists that offer top opportunities according to readers’ passions. The lists highlight the magazine’s picks for Top Whitetail Hunting Towns; Best Towns for Kids; Best Towns With Low Population Densities; Top Retirement Towns; Top Trout Towns; Best Bird Hunting Towns; Big-Game Heavens; Bass Capitals; Top Coastal Towns; and Where to Live Like a King.

Towns were ranked based on more than 20 criteria, with outdoor factors given heavier emphasis than quality-of-life factors. Outdoor factors included gun-friendliness of each town’s state, huntable and fishable species nearby, the town’s proximity to public hunting land and fishable waters, and the potential for taking a trophy-caliber game animal or fish nearby. Quality-of-life factors included population growth since 2000, median household income, median home value, cost of living, unemployment rate, mean commute time and amenities (schools, hospitals). The overall Quality-of-Life score was combined with the overall Outdoor score to reach each town’s rank.


James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi.