Terry Simpson was standing at the gun counter at a local sporting goods store last Friday, trying to “pull the trigger” on the purchase of a new .350 Whelen rifle.

His dilemma was understandable, and it was kind of funny to be nosing in on Simpson’s conversation with the salesman. The buyer was speaking to the guy behind the counter, but it sounded more like he was trying to talk himself into the transaction ahead of Monday’s start to Mississippi’s two-week primitive weapon deer season.

“Is it worth $450 (gun and scope) and $50 for ammo for basically two weeks now and about 10 days in January?” Simpson said.

“Well, it’s true, next year you can use any rifle you want during the primitive weapon season,” the salesman admitted. “But that will not include the early November doe-only season. You will still need a primitive to use that season.”

None of that mattered to the hunter.

“I know all that,” Simpson said. “The problem I have right now is that there is one buck that’s been beating me and I know about four or five other members of my club have seen him. He’s a giant 10-point with a drop tine and I want him. It’s gonna take a 200-yard shot to get him where he is.

“Neither my bow nor my old muzzle-loader is going to get me close enough to this sucker. Nobody has gotten within 200 yards of him.”

“So,” I finally interjected, “the question you must answer is this, is that buck worth $500?”

Must have been because Simpson plopped plastic on the counter, had the gun built (scope mounted) and walked out with it in a box. His plan, he said, was to hunt last weekend with his regular .270 rifle but to also spend part of his time getting his new gun ready.

“Just in case,” he said. “This old buck is smart and I think he’s gone nocturnal. We never saw him during the cold weather but we did get photos of him at night. He’s still around. I think my best chance to get him is the next two weeks during the pre-rut, which is my favorite time to hunt. I hope I can rattle him up. I don’t think they will be chasing does over the next two weeks but they might.”

Beginning in 2014, the early December (Dec. 2-15, most years) primitive weapon season will be open to firearm of choice on private lands, making the coming two weeks the final primitive weapon season for many hunters. The 2013 Legislature passed a bill in April but made its effective day July 1, 2014. The delay was in concession to gun dealers whose shelves were already full of primitive firearms.

“Long overdue,” Simpson said, “and I knew they would eventually do it so I held out buying one of these legal centerfires they call primitive, which aren’t. I like shooting my muzzle-loader but it’s old and I either needed to buy a new one or get one of these 35 Whelens.

“If it weren’t for this one buck, I’d probably never bought one. But he’s at least 6 years old and this is the year I want to get him. I’ve never gotten a shot at a drop-tine buck and I want him. And if I don’t get him in the next two weeks, I will still get to use this during the November doe season.”

The new law will only allow weapons of choice in seasons that begin after Nov. 30. It will not include the doe-only period of early November.

Public lands will not be affected. Primitive weapons will still be required during all primitive weapon seasons, at least for the foreseeable future.

The primitive weapon season opened Monday statewide, and will continue through Dec. 15. The gun season will resume Dec. 16-23 with still season (no dogs). The final regular gun season, during which dogs are legal, will be Dec. 24-Jan. 22. 

Another primitive weapon season will follow, opening Jan. 23-Jan. 31 in the Hill and Delta Zones. The Southeast Zone will be Jan. 23-Jan. 31 for either-sex deer and Feb. 1-15 for legal bucks only.