A subtle change in the wording of a regulation has major implications for Mississippi’s deer hunters, making it easier to accomplish management goals for harvesting antlerless deer on private lands.

Beginning with the 2014-15 deer season in October, there is no daily limit on antlerless deer — a.k.a. does — on private lands. The season limit will remain five does, so essentially that becomes the daily limit. 

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks implemented this increase from one per day to give private landowners with abundant deer herds more flexibility in reaching their management goals.

Steps were taken in the opposite direction on U.S. Forest Service lands, where the doe population is not nearly as dense as on private lands. The daily remains one with a season limit of three.

Since many of the state’s Wildlife Management Areas are located on U.S. Forest Service Lands, the MDWFP urges hunters to check the regulations for each WMA before hunting. Officials say it is important to always check WMA and National Wildlife Refuge regulations, since they often vary from site to site.

Primitive weapon reminder

Hunters are also reminded of a big change in two of three primitive weapon seasons this fall.

Under a change made during the 2013 legislative session but delayed until this year, deer hunters on private lands may use their weapon of choice during any primitive weapon season that begins after Nov. 30.

That includes the main primitive weapon season in early December (usually Dec. 1-15) and the late extended season after the close of the regular gun season. The early doe-only primitive weapon season in November is not included.

“This new regulation will give more flexibility to private land managers who manage deer herds on their property and will give more choices to hunters regarding which firearm to use,” said Lann Wilf, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Deer Program Leader.  

Non-exempt hunters must still possess a valid primitive weapon license, Sportsman’s License or Lifetime Sportsman’s License to take advantage of this new opportunity.

Orange regulation changing

Another change in deer regulations involves when hunter orange is required. Beginning this year, during any firearms season for deer, a hunter must wear in full view at least five hundred square inches of solid unbroken fluorescent orange unless hunting in a stand at least twelve feet above ground or in a fully enclosed deer stand or blind.  

However, hunters must wear hunter orange while traveling to and from their stand. Hunters are also encouraged to carry a light while walking into the woods before daylight or leaving after dark.

“Hunter safety rules are vital to having a safe hunting season,” Wilf said. “Hunters are urged to practice good hunting ethics and follow all safety rules to avoid hunting and firearm-related accidents.”