Mississippi’s deer season is approaching another change, and hunters in two of the state’s three zones are currently experiencing either the pre-rut or rut conditions.

After this final weekend of primitive weapons, the gun season on deer returns on Monday for eight days of still hunting only, and the timing is near perfect, according to Dwight Quayle of Terry.

“I hunt at Port Gibson and we are starting to see the peak of pre-rut activity, which means now is a good time to start rattling and grunting and calling deer,” Quayle said. “But earlier this week, I went with a friend to his camp north of Grenada and the bucks were already chasing does. I saw several nice bucks but didn’t get a clean shot at the only shooter I had in range.

“This weekend, if the weather just cooperates, I think we can get in the woods, get between bedding areas and call up some good bucks down in Port Gibson.”

Dustin Venable, who killed a nice buck on Tuesday (Dad’s text tip leads to son’s Hinds County trophy), hunts in northern Hinds County and said the bucks are still a while from running does.

“When you can kill a buck by having him leave the trail of a doe to follow your scent trail made from rutting buck urine, then you know it’s just the pre-rut, and that’s what my buck did,” he said. “The does just aren’t hot yet, at least not enough to get the bucks running.”

The next change in seasons will be Dec. 24, when the gun season with dogs returns. It will end on Jan. 22.

***

Youth squirrel hunt

For the second year, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will allow youth squirrel hunting at Natchez State Park in Adams County in February. 

The Park includes dense hardwood forest that is excellent habitat for squirrel. The season is limited to February due to draw deer hunts held on the site.

The youth squirrel hunt is also held by special draw only. 

Youth hunters age 15 and younger may apply online at www.mdwfp.com/draws. The application period will be open Dec. 16 through Jan. 12. Hunting will be allowed each Saturday and Sunday in February. Youth hunters must be in the presence and under the direct supervision of a licensed, or exempt non-hunting adult at least 21 years of age while hunting on Natchez State Park. 

***

Dove seasons returning

Mississippi’s south zone third dove season reopened on Tuesday (Dec. 12) and will remain open through Jan. 12.

The north zone, which includes all areas north of U.S. Highway 84 and those areas south of Highway 84 that are west of Mississippi 35, will reopen for the third season on Dec. 20 and will also close on Jan. 12.

The late Delta season provides a unique dove hunting opportunity that is much different than the traditional September opener. More doves are migrating south into the state; these birds tend to travel in much larger flocks this time of year and will concentrate on the few remaining grain sources available. The late seasons also provide a great afternoon opportunity to compliment concurrent hunting seasons. Many duck hunters, for example, enjoy pairing a morning duck hunt with an afternoon dove hunt this time of year.