At first glance, the 2012-13 Mississippi deer season proposed Wednesday (April 18) by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks looks out of whack.

For starters, there are dates that don't coincide with regular statutes, and then there's a series of new names for the three different deer zones.

Not to worry, said the assistant chief of game and deer project coordinator Chad Dacus.

"I will tell you, nobody is getting short-changed a day of hunting, and the changes are just minor," Dacus said.

This is just one of those rare years when the calendar dictates a minor change in the December seasons.

"Since Dec. 2 falls on a Sunday, and we can't open a season on a Sunday, there is simply a shift by one day in the December part of the primitive weapon season," Dacus said, explaining the subtle differences in dates to the five-man Commission. "Instead of opening on Dec. 2 as in most years, it will open on Dec. 1. That causes us to change the dates of the following still season (gun without dog) and the start of the second gun season with dogs.

"It might look like there's a day short in one of the seasons, but there is not."

All proposals must receive final approval during the commission's May meeting before enactment.

Under Mississippi law, the Commission is allowed to set the dates within certain parameters set by the Legislature, allowing so many days for gun with dogs, the 14-day primitive-weapon season in early December and eight days of gun season without dogs.

That won't change, if the proposed season structure is approved.

"The biggest change will be what we call the three (deer-hunting) different zones," Dacus said, explaining that Zone 1 becomes the Hill Zone, Zone 2 becomes the Coastal Zone and Zone 3 becomes Delta Zone. "We have so many different zones for different game, we just wanted to avoid confusion."

The 2012-13 deer seasons are:

Delta and Hill Zones
• Archery: Oct. 1-Jan. 31.
• Youth gun: Nov. 3-Jan. 31.
• Primitive weapon: Nov. 5-16 (antlerless deer only)
• Gun, with dogs: Nov. 17-30.
• Primitive weapon: Dec. 1-14.
• Gun, without dog (still season): Dec. 15-22.
• Gun, with dogs: Dec. 23-Jan. 17.
• Primitive weapon: Jan. 18-31.

Coastal Zone
• Archery: Oct. 15-Jan. 31 (either-sex); Feb. 1-15 (bucks only)
• Youth gun: Nov. 3-Feb. 15.
• Gun, with dogs: Nov. 17-30.
• Primitive weapon: Dec. 1-14.
• Gun, without dog (still season): Dec. 15-22.
• Gun, with dogs: Dec. 23-Jan. 17.
• Primitive weapon: Jan. 18-31 (either-sex deer); Feb. 1-15 (bucks only)

The legal buck requirements will be the same as in 2011-12.

In the Coastal and Hill zones, a legal buck is defined as having either a minimum inside spread of 10 inches or one main beam at least 13 inches in length.

In the Delta Zone, it is either a minimum inside spread of 12 inches or one main beam at least 15 inches in length.

Mississippi's small-game seasons have only calendar changes. The three squirrel zones will have opening dates - all Saturdays - of Sept. 29 in the North, Oct. 13 in the Central and Oct. 27 in the South.

Youth seasons in each zone will begin on the preceding Saturday.

The statewide rabbit season will open on Oct. 13 and, like all three squirrel zones, will end on Feb. 28.

Quail season will still open on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) and run through March 2.

Raccoon season is July 1-Sept. 30, but will become raccoon, bobcat and opossum Oct. 1-31 for food and sport. The season for food, sport and pelt for the three species will be Nov. 1-Feb. 28.

The trapping season will be Nov. 1-Feb. 28.

The 2013 turkey season will be March 15-May 1, with a youth season of March 8-14.

One turkey-hunting change is that all of Leflore County will be open to hunting. A small segment of the county has been closed the last five years for restocking.

Migratory bird seasons will be announced during the summer when federal frameworks are announced by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.