• September 2012 - Volume 15, Number 2

    Features

    Last season produced some huge bucks, even though sightings were down. But the upcoming season could be the best ever.

    A hunter’s anticipation of the upcoming deer season is triggered by positive events. One could be a visit to the Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza, where a record number of high-scoring deer will be on display. Another could be the setting out and checking of a trail camera, and seeing the pictures that bring first-hand proof of the promise the new season holds.

    Last, but not least, are the words you are about to read from the brightest deer minds in Mississippi, who in a unified voice say this may be the very best deer season in Mississippi — ever!

    The 2011-12 deer season was definitely one of contrasts. Record-breaking mild weather, near-record mast crop, fewer deer sightings reported and hunter numbers continuing to fall.

    Everything is lining up for a great hunting season on the wildlife management areas scattered around the state.

    “I’m looking for good things once again this fall and winter with our deer hunting,” said Chad Dacus, MDWFP deer coordinator. “Our deer population across the entire state seems to be really good, but the Delta wildlife management areas are going to be the highest-quality production areas.”

    Anything in the South Delta complex is traditionally going to have bigger deer, according to Dacus.

    September is the month for crappie anglers to seek the hidden treasures buried within Arkabutla Lake.

    In the 2000 Oscar-nominated comedy film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, “Oh, Brother, Where Are Thou?,” three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while being pursued by a relentless lawman. The movie is set in the early 1930s in rural Mississippi. At the end of the film, the stars are rescued by floodwaters from the construction of a lake at the site of George Clooney’s character’s childhood home. According to movie sources, the film is loosely based around the area that was flooded to create Arkabutla Lake.

    Bream don’t just disappear during the heat of the summer. You just have to back off the bank to continue building hefty stringers.

    Intently scanning his electronics, the angler maneuvered his boat offshore to scrutinize every patch of bottom, looking for just the right cover in the depths below. “Bingo!” he exclaimed, tossing a yellow marker over the side so he could maintain contact with the honey hole in open water. “This is where we’ll find the really big ones.” Putting the hook through a live bait, he dropped it over the side and let it sink until the weight smacked the bottom. Then, he jigged it up and down a little before setting the hook.

    Smallmouth bass patrol Pickwick Lake like dogs intent on protecting their domain. Here’s all you need to know that latch onto these hard fighters.

    Smallmouth bass wear the moniker of “smallies” as if they have a chip on their shoulder — something to prove. What they lack in size, they make up for in brute strength and feisty attitude.

    And they patrol stretches of Pickwick as if daring anything to invade their backyard.

    “Pickwick is not the only place in Mississippi to catch a smallmouth bass,” Iuka’s Roger Stegall said. “But the size of the lake and the smallmouths population concentration make it the best Mississippi water to consider.”

    Dove hunting marks the official opening of the 2012-13 season, and there are new species in the mix. Here’s what you need to know to stay legal.

    Alerted to a bird approaching from his rear, Joe Watts rose from his stool, spun around, lifted his 12-gauge and filled the Madison County air with No. 8 lead. A dove’s smooth flight suddenly turned into an end-over-end free fall that stopped right at Watt’s feet. Before he could pick it up or replace a shell in his gun, another hunter was shouting again.

    You could tack a few 2x4s to a tree, or you could step into the 21st century of deer hunting by buying a modern stand. Here’s all you need to know.

    My very first tree stand was an assorted collection of scrap wood from my dad’s shop nailed to a very forked tree overlooking a single scrape.

    Each board was nailed with precise care at the exact location that would advance me up the tree through the maze of limbs to the “platform” seat I had nailed at an awkward angle across the flattest limb I could find.

    That tree eventually accepted its puncture wounds and claimed the wooden steps as its own. And up until the time that it fell victim to the loggers clear-cutting this property a few years ago, my first stand stood as a testimony to my youthful determination to deer hunt.

    Deer season is only a month away, so it's time to plan your WMA hunts and learn how the deer season is stacking up.