Well, take a look at the Southeast Zone, where deer season is open until Feb. 15. Wow, another 15 days of deer hunting with modern primitive weapons or black powder front loaders. Or pick any type of archery gear, including a traditional bow or even a crossbow, you want. This is one more chance to get your buck on the wall.
Southeast Zone public areas
If you are not that familiar with this zone, it is roughly defined as the southeast region of the state. Specifically, it is the part of the state south of U.S. Highway 84 and east of Mississippi State Highway 35. This is a 14-county area with a deer habitat that is rather unique to Mississippi.
The northern end is covered by big sections of piney woods. The southern counties, of course, make up the coastal counties typified by sandy beach-like terrain in many places. Historically, this zone has not had a terrific reputation for producing big bucks, but over the past couple of decades this situation has improved vastly. Admittedly though, Katrina did a number on the area, but it is recovering.
There are at least a dozen public-hunting areas within this zone worth taking a serious look at. Most of them are state-controlled wildlife management areas, along with one national wildlife refuge under federal supervision. These public areas represent thousands of acres of open lands for deer hunting. Here is a list of the public areas in the Southeast Zone:
• Chickasawhay WMA
• Mason Creek WMA
• Marion County WMA
• Wolf River WMA
• Leaf River WMA
• Old River WMA
• Mars Memorial Wildlife Refuge
• Little Biloxi WMA
• Red Creek WMA
• Pascagoula WMA
• Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge
You can get full information on the particulars of these public areas by checking out the state wildlife web site at www.mdwfp.com.
Southeast Zone hunting tactics
"I was born and raised in Leakesville in Greene County," said Charlie Garretson of Ellisville. "I have hunted in this southeast region all my life, especially around the Chickasawhay River basin area. Hunting deer in this area is not particularly difficult nor does it require strategies and tactics much different than other areas of the state.
"Typically, our deer are somewhat smaller thus lighter in weight simply because our habitat is not that rich in high-quality nutrients. However, with public areas and private landowners supplementing deer food resources with food plots, this situation continues to show improvements. We are now producing some decent quality bucks and fair numbers of antlerless deer. There are definitely plenty of deer hunting opportunities in our zone."
With only a couple weeks left, scouting time is at a bare minimum. Therefore the best bets are to concentrate on water routes, associated funnels, food sources, active trails and hopefully some staging areas where does may hang out. Remember, the reason this zone got this extra time to hunt is because the bucks in this region are experiencing a peak rut later than other parts of the state.
"Probably the best idea down here is to either tote in a lightweight portable climber tree stand or pick a natural spot to layout a ground blind," offers Garretson. "Choose areas overlooking deer travel routes, feeding or gathering areas, but don't crowd them and be sure to play the wind right. Bucks may be tired out by this time of year, but they aren't stupid. Their senses are just as keen as ever, with perhaps a little off-key behavior if there happens to still be a doe in heat around.
"One of my personal favorite hunting spots this time of year is a trail paralleling a coursing water creek or other drainage. Deer seem to prefer these travel lanes alongside a creek or where funnels drop down the banks to cross over. Just keep your eyes open, because deer can slip down these trails from either direction at any time."
So, if you just aren't content to pack up your deer-hunting gear and call it quits for this year, try working on some deer in the Southeast Zone. But you better get your act in gear pretty quick before this finale of all deer hunting seasons comes to a close.