Deer of the Year
Mississippi hunters kill some great deer every year, but the 2011-12 hunting season might go down in the books for producing more monster bucks than ever.
|Courtesy Harvey Guillot|
Some great trophy deer were killed this season in Mississippi.
Sure, monsters have occasionally shown up from other areas of the state, but the Delta has been the star.
Until the 2011-12 season, that is.
"It’s definitely been a phenomenal year," Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ Chad Dacus said. "We’ve had reports of more 160(-inch)-plus deer this year than in years past, and they’re coming from places that traditionally haven’t produced big bucks."
That is backed up by just looking at stories published on MS-Sportsman.com: 23 stories on bucks green scoring at least 160 inches had appeared on the site as of the end of January.
Fifteen of those deer had green scored at more than 180 inches. And the season was still under way.
So what happened? What produced such an explosion of massive bucks?
Dacus believes there are a few facets to the causes of what could be a record deer season.
One factor has been the weather over the past few years.
"We’ve had some pretty mild winters over the last few years," he said. "Those deer have not been stressed; they come out of winter in good shape."
That means nutrition can quickly go to antler growth instead of rebuilding body weight.
But one of the most-important reasons for the recent crop of monster bucks is that deer are being allowed to grow up before being killed.
"The changes from the 4-point regulations to spread-and-main beam regulations have led hunters and landowners to think more about protecting those younger age groups (of deer)," he said. "And they’ve put themselves on higher regulations.
"They’re letting deer get older."
The fact of the matter is that a buck cannot express its potential if it’s killed when it is 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 years old. Even a 3 1/2-year-old buck has yet to really blossom in terms of its rack.
While every 4 1/2-year-old-plus buck won’t carry trophy-quality calcium growths, Dacus said age is a critical component to increasing the quality of bucks that walk the state’s woods.
"It’s a testament to the hunters," he said of the 2011-12 season. "They realize it takes age.
"Three-year-olds were about average at taxidermists, but now that’s getting progressively older. I’m seeing deer that are 5 to 6 years old."
Here are some of the late-season trophy bucks that have been killed in Mississippi.
‘Look, Dad! There’s my buck!’
Two more Madison County trophies
Many other big bucks have been killed this season. All of those stories — including numbers of 140- to 170-class monsters — can be found at www.MS-Sportsman.com/bigbucks.
So continue checking back to ensure you don’t miss a single story!
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