Mississippi’s great success in its century-long rebuilding of deer numbers, and to some degree, other wild game populations, has been matched in recent decades by a shift to quality deer management.

Dedicated hunters, working closely with a knowledgeable state wildlife agency, have seen the numbers of trophy animals explode in every region by improving habitat and letting bucks live long enough to allow strong genetics to work.

The Magnolia State is fortunate to have some of the finest public habitat in the country. Our state-controlled Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) produce some of the biggest public land bucks in the United States.

The shift to quality deer management was slow in start, but proof of its results spread quickly and so did its popularity. Hunters went from wanting to harvest any buck to concentrating on allowing the habitat to produce the best mature and heavy-headed deer. Along the way, biologists convinced the populace that increased doe harvest, selective buck harvest and habitat improvement would help hunters establish and reach their goals.

First, it worked on public lands but soon those benefits spread to the public WMAs. Even in the areas of the state with poor quality soil, many deer are now reaching maturity and bucks in those areas are getting bigger and better by the year. On one Southeast Mississippi WMA, over half of the bucks harvested last year were 4½ years of age or older, which was unheard of just a few years ago. 

For that reason, expectations are high on WMAs for the 2015-16 season.

“We’re really expecting good things this fall,” said North Delta Region biologist Bobby Kellum. “We’ve been working hard on improving habitat and we’re seeing a lot of deer.”

By all accounts this year’s WMA harvest should be among the best ever due to several factors, which would be enhanced by adequate timely rainfall in September. If you’re looking to harvest a deer, including a trophy buck, or a good gobbler, call ducks, and chase squirrels and rabbits, this is a good year to look at public land.

Put in the time and scout the area, and success should come your way. 

If you’re fortunate enough to be drawn to hunt one of the trophy deer WMAs, then you’ll likely have the chance to harvest a quality buck, maybe even the buck of a lifetime. Read along and we’ll explore different regions of the state and cover some of the best WMAs in each region for ducks, bucks and small game species.


Southwest Region

WMAs: Canemount, Copiah County, Natchez State Park, Theodore Mars, Wolf River, Old River, Marion County and Sandy Creek.


Deer

Canemount is quickly becoming one of the most attractive WMAs for harvesting quality bucks. Without a doubt, it is the premier WMA in the Southwest Region, consistently producing mature bucks over 200 pounds with a few exceeding that watermark each year including several last year.

“There was a monster 8-point killed last year that weighed 245 pounds had 5¼-inch bases, a 19-inch inside spread and 25-inch main beams,” said regional biologist Josh Moree. 

Canemount has approximately 3,500 acres located in the Loess Bluffs of Claiborne County near the Mississippi River. The rich, fertile topsoil covers the steep hills and hollows and produces quality mast in the timber stands. A relatively new WMA, the property has a long history of trophy deer management as the previous owner worked with MDWFP biologists through the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) for many years for quality deer management. Hunting Canemount WMA is a totally unique hunting experience compared to other WMAs. If you’re looking for a unique hunting opportunity with increased opportunities for harvesting quality deer, then you should look no further than Canemount WMA. It is a draw-only deer hunting area and the application deadline is Aug. 31.

Copiah County WMA is open to deer hunting from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31 following the regular Hill Country seasons. Located only an hour’s drive south of Jackson, this WMA is easily accessible and well utilized by hunters. 

“This is a good place to harvest a deer,” said Moree. “This is an either-sex harvest area, and it has one of the highest harvests rates in the region.” 

Natchez State Park is also a very productive place to deer hunt with approximately 1,100 acres of upland hardwoods open to hunting by draw only (also an Aug. 31 deadline). The special draw hunts on this WMA provide an additional opportunity for hunters to harvest a deer and it also is used as a management tool to keep the population in check. 

“As the numbers of hunters has declined on the draw hunts here, the deer harvest has also slowed down as a result,” Moree said. “We may adjust the number of hunters drawn as the number of actual hunters showing up to hunt has decreased.”

Natchez State Park is full of steep hills and gulleys, and it makes for some pretty tough walking in and out, but the opportunity to harvest a deer is very good. 

If you’re looking for a good place to take a youth, then Theodore Mars is a good bet. With 900 acres to hunt the area is small enough to scout properly yet big enough to hold deer and small game.

Only youth aged 15 and under can hunt deer with guns on this WMA. 


Small game

The same young pine plantations, mixed with thickets and grown-up clear cuts that produce so many deer make Theodore Mars prime rabbit habitat. A pack of beagles can get a workout. 

Wolf River is very productive for small game and attracts a lot of squirrel hunters. Many of the WMAs in this region produce some quality squirrel hunting, even Canemount, which offers black squirrels during its limited Feb. 1-28 season.


Waterfowl

Old River WMA is definitely one of the best bets for harvesting ducks in this region, and a lot of wood ducks occupy the Pearl River and the adjacent sloughs and backwater areas along the river. The area may be accessed by walk in, ATV trails, or via a boat ramp that allows hunters the opportunity to access prime hunting areas from the Pearl River. 


Central Region

WMAs: Pearl River, Bienville, Caney Creek, Tallahalla, Trim Cane, Choctaw, Yockanookany, John Starr, Black Prairie, Nanih Waiya, Okatibbee. 


Deer hunting

Region biologist Amy Blaylock is quick to answer when asked the best WMA in this region to produce big antlers: “Black Prairie.”

Black Prairie is the only WMA managed for quality in the central region, and it’s certainly producing quality bucks. Located a short distance from Columbus in the deer-rich Golden Triangle area, the WMA has a 15-inch inside spread and 18-inch main beam requirement, which gives the bucks more time to develop and reach maturity. 

“The area is mostly draw except for a late season archery hunt, and there is usually an open draw hunt,” Blaylock said. “We usually have a special early gun hunt for youth ages 15 and under only, on the last weekend of September. The youths can kill any antlered deer, so there are a good many young deer killed because of the youth hunt.” 

That youth hunt will be held Sept. 27-28, and give the young hunters first shot at success. 

“We also have early gun hunts that are draw as well,” said Blaylock.

Black Prairie is surrounded by a lot agricultural fields, which help fatten up the deer and grow big antlers too. 

“There’s a lot of soybeans planted on the WMA and around the area by local farmers,” Blaylock said. “We’ve done a significant amount of work on the area to convert some of the old fescue fields to early successional habitat. There’s not a lot of acorn producing trees here but there is a lot of native browse.”

The MDWFP has also done a lot of work burning and spraying in an effort to produce better habitat for the deer and it’s paying off big time. Mature bucks 4½ years and older typically weigh more than 200 pounds, and does usually average from 120 to 130 pounds. 

“Since the area is surrounded by Ag fields, the body weights are typically better than other WMAs in this part of the state,” Blaylock said. “An added incentive for hunters harvesting a doe 1½ years and older comes with an opportunity to participate in a buck-only hunt in December,” Blaylock said. “If you harvest a mature doe you’ll go in a drawing for the buck-only hunt, and there’s a good chance you’ll be drawn for the prime December hunt.” 

The region has other good opportunities.

“Bienville, Caney Creek and Tallahalla all have high deer density, and they’re open during the dog season so people have an opportunity to hunt with dogs,” Blaylock said. 

One of the best-kept secrets and often overlooked deer hunting areas in this region is Trim Cane, located a short distance from Starkville. That may be a result of the limited access and draw for the area. 

“We have youth and handicap hunts for draw only,” said Blaylock. “On Sundays we draw for two youths and two handicap hunters. There’s a high deer population and we have wheelchair accessible and youth stands available, and there’s a good chance they’ll have an opportunity to harvest a deer if they get to hunt.”

Last year, unfortunately few people applied for this WMA and of those that did many didn’t show for various reasons. That should only make the chances for success go up this year, but you’ve got to apply and show up if you’re drawn.

“Pearl River WMA located just north of highway 43 along Ross Barnett Reservoir has excellent food plots with several box stands strategically placed on plots and in the woods,” Blaylock said. “And they’re first come first serve.” 


Waterfowl

The best bet in the region for waterfowl is Pearl River, because of its location adjacent to Barnett Reservoir. The WMA gives access to some backwater shallows that can’t be reached by boat from the main lake. The last couple of seasons have seen Pearl River WMA load up with teal in September and again with ducks in the winters.

“We also offer waterfowl draw hunts at Trim Cane, and we’ll have ducks if we have water on the area,” Blaylock said. “It usually takes a major rain event or hurricane to get water in there but when we do, you’ll have ducks to hunt.

 “Last year we had a youth-only waterfowl hunt inside the waterfowl sanctuary, for the first time ever, and they killed a bunch of ducks there,” said Blaylock. “They have a real good opportunity to harvest some ducks if they get drawn to hunt and participate in that hunt.”


Small game

“Nanih Waiya runs along the Pearl River and always has real good rabbit hunting,” Blaylock said. “It’s usually full of rabbit hunters and is a good place to hunt. There’s also a good opportunity for waterfowl hunters here with the river and sloughs interspersed through it.”

“Yockanookany is another WMA that is underutilized as far as deer hunting goes. It has draw hunts for archery and primitive weapon, and hunters have an excellent chance of seeing deer on this area.” 

But the big draw may be something much smaller.

“Yockanookany and Caney Creek also have good squirrel hunting areas,” Blaylock said. “Last year we had a lot of squirrel hunters, and they had really good success. And there’s a good mix of hardwoods and mast producing trees that attract the squirrels.


North Delta

WMAs: Charlie Capps, Malmaison, Indianola, Muscadine Farms, Stoneville, Leroy Percy and O’Keefe


Deer hunting

“Things are really looking good for the upcoming season in the North Delta Region,” said North Delta biologist Bobby Kellum. “Our deer numbers seem to be up and we’re seeing a lot of bucks and does on the areas also. We’re looking forward to a great year and looking for great success on our WMAs.

“O’Keefe and Malmaison are two areas that we’ve had for several years, and they hold a lot of deer, and they’re the best chance to harvest a deer in this region. They also have a few trophy bucks too. I work a lot on O’Keefe, and I’ve seen a lot of deer this summer, and it seems like the numbers are up.”

While practicing sound habitat management with selective timber harvest last year, it’s opened up the canopy a bit to allow for more growth of natural browse and that should be a boon to the deer and hunters as well. 

“This year I’ve been out and about quite a bit on O’Keefe and I’ve seen quite a few bucks that are going to meet and exceed the minimum criteria for harvest there,” Kellum said. 

Once a state park, one of the region’s newest WMAs is offering new opportunities. 

“Great River Road is a new area that used to be Rosedale State Park,” said Kellum. “We’re going to have an archery hunt this year beginning in October and a special draw hunt for primitive weapon, black powder hunt only.”

“There’s been no hunting on the area prior to this year, so there should be some good hunting,” Kellum said. “And it looks like it’s going to be a good area with good access and its well maintained. Bow season will be open from Oct. 1 until the day before Thanksgiving, and then we’ll have the draw hunt after Thanksgiving. And we’re looking to make other hunting opportunities in the future also.”

This WMA primarily has hardwood timber along the river and is surrounded by a lot of agricultural fields as well. 

Kellum said hunters looking to harvest does should look at Stoneville and Leroy Percy. 

“Sky Lake is a draw hunt only for deer and also offers some waterfowl opportunities too,” Kellum said. 


Waterfowl

“We have several good waterfowl areas in this region,” Kellum said. “Hunters will find an assortment of ducks using the area including gadwalls, shovelers, mallards and pintails. Wood ducks will be found on the green tree areas and in the creeks and sloughs in other timber areas as well.”

There are special use restrictions on some of these areas, so always check each WMA’s rules and regulations before you hunt there. 

“Historically, Malmaison and O’Keefe are both good and always seem to hold ducks,” Kellum said. “Malmaison offers hunting seven days a week and O’Keefe has hunting four days a week and it’s first come first serve.”

Both Malmaison and O’Keefe have grain crops planted with some millet, corn and moist soil areas providing food for the ducks. Both also have green tree areas that offer a lot of options for duck hunters. 

“Indianola and Charlie Capps also have good duck hunting, and you are assigned a spot when you hunt there,” said Kellum. “Indianola has millet and some crops strips left by farmer’s co-oping the land to help attract the ducks. 

 “Muscadine Farms also has draw hunts starting on opening day. Hunters are drawn out the morning of the hunt to see who hunts where and the hunter gets to pick the spot they want to hunt. And we usually try to accommodate all of the duck hunters who show up. Very rarely do we have to turn people away.”


Small game

O’Keefe is a good place to start looking for small game, whether you’re looking in the trees or in the thickets.

“O’Keefe has good numbers of squirrels and the hunting is productive from Oct. 1 through Feb. 28,” said Kellum. “It has a fair number of rabbits also. Malmaison also holds a lot of rabbits and provides some excellent hunting for rabbit hunters.”


Dove hunts

This is one region with plenty of September hunting options.

“O’Keefe, Muscadine, Leroy Percy and Indianola all have excellent dove hunting opportunities and we plant sunflowers on them,” Kellum said. “We’ll usually burn the sunflowers down with chemicals and cut some strips and keep some food on the ground for the doves through the fall season.”

Leroy Percy has a youth only dove hunt on Sept. 5, and then it’s open to everyone after that day.


Northeast Region

WMAs: Charles Ray Nix, Upper Sardis, Sardis Waterfowl, Graham Lake, Hell Creek, Tuscumbia, Calhoun, Chickasaw, John Bell Williams, Canal Section, Divide Section.


Deer hunting

“We have two WMAs that we actively manage for larger bucks through regulations and habitat management — Charles Ray Nix in Panola County in the northwestern portion of our region, and Canal Section in the east,” regional biologist Brad Holder said. “We try to provide opportunities for harvesting better quality bucks at those two WMAs.”

Antler requirements for harvesting bucks on Charles Ray Nix are a minimum of either a 15-inch inside spread or an 18-inch main beam, which allows the bucks to live longer and thus grow bigger antlers. 

Intensive habitat management has been implemented on Charles Ray Nix including controlled burning and timber thinning which promotes vegetative growth and more natural browse including greenbrier. There are also a few mast producing white oaks and red oaks on the property that attract the deer when the acorns are falling.

“Trophy bucks harvested in this area will typically score in the 120 to 130 class range and mature bucks will weigh on average 150 to 160 pounds,” Holder said. “Their weights are improving due to several factors along with an abundance of natural vegetation due to the intensive habitat management over the last three years.”

There are eight different draw hunts on Charles Ray Nix including primitive weapon. 

“Charles Ray Nix is basically a deer factory and a good place to come across a deer,” said Holder. “We have about eight different primitive weapons hunts on the area which gives hunters more opportunities also.”

Canal Section WMA has less stringent antler requirements of a 12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam and the weights will run from 145 to 160 pounds for mature bucks. Holder said the WMA has the highest hunter harvest rate (per day) in the region.

For sheer size and the chance for isolation, the region has a good WMA.

“Upper Sardis WMA is also a good bet if you’re looking to harvest a trophy buck in this region,” Holder said. “About every other year a hunter will harvest a 140- to 150-class buck, and with 43,000 acres there’s plenty of room to hunt. We also have a youth only deer hunt that’s very popular and successful too.”

Holder said the Sardis Waterfowl WMA is perhaps the best bet for kids to harvest a deer.” 

Hell Creek is another WMA that offers a gun-permitted draw hunt in October giving hunters another opportunity to get out with a modern firearm before the opening of the traditional gun hunting season. 

“Hell Creek is a little different site, and there’s only a limited number of days that we can offer to hunt so we do have a unique hunt there in October,” Holder said. “Hell Creek has about 2,000 acres to hunt and about 1,000 acres of it is on a Co-op plan with farmers who grow row crops like beans in the summer.”

Those beans offer a highly nutritious concentrated food source that attracts deer and also promotes higher body weights and antler growth. 

“The deer hunt we have is a pretty popular hunt, and it offers an opportunity to kill a decent deer, and we have a good deer that rolls through every so often too,” Holder said.


Small game 

The region has two good rabbit options. And three for squirrel

“Divide section has a lot of open habitat for rabbits and is a good place to rabbit hunt,” Holder said. “Charles Ray Nix has excellent habitat due to the way it’s managed, and it’s a popular rabbit hunting area also.

“The top squirrel hunting areas would be Sardis, Chickasaw and Canal Section WMAs,” said Holder. “There’s plenty of good habitat for the squirrels and ample opportunities to hunt and harvest them as well.”


Waterfowl

Tuscumbia WMA near Corinth is primarily a duck hole enhanced by its geography. It’s located on the old Tuscumbia River bed just west of the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

“Tuscumbia is the hot spot for waterfowl hunting in this region,” Holder said. “We have two sections, the North Unit which had the highest harvest rate per man hour in all of the WMAs this past season, and the South Unit which has nine waterfowl impoundments and draw hunts.”

On Tuscumbia they draw for waterfowl hunts several times during the season providing excellent duck hunting opportunities for hunters. “

“Tuscumbia is almost all wetlands and we have plenty of food there for the ducks,” said Holder. “We plant Japanese millet and have a lot of moist soil vegetation, which makes for some diverse food for the ducks. It’s been a wet year up here in this region and we’re looking for an excellent fall hunting season.” 


South Delta

WMAs: Mahannah, Twin Oaks, Sunflower, Lake George, Howard Miller, Shipland.


Deer

If you’re looking to harvest Canada-sized bucks right close to home then look no further than the South Delta Region. This region is populated by some of the most impressive WMAs in the state, and for the entire south for that matter. Just imagine harvesting bucks weighing from 230 to 250 pounds with massive, thick racks with scores rivaling those taken in Canada. It is possible in the South Delta Region, and it does happen occasionally. 

Mahannah is a good place to start.

“Historically Mahannah has been your best bet to kill a monster buck, and that should hold true this fall as well,” said biologist Jamie Holt. “Year after year Mahannah produces good deer. There is a wide variety of habitats there and that’s a plus because the bucks have to have somewhere to hide and grow old and get big. And they have plenty of that on Mahannah.” 

Area personnel do a good job of keeping the habitat up and providing a good environment to grow those big deer. As always the minimum antler requirements are tailored to the area of the state that you’re hunting in and Mahannah is at the top in regards to the highest minimum requirements every year due to the exceptional deer and habitat that it has. Mahannah’s minimum antler requirements are a 16-inch inside spread or 20-inch main beam.

One of the most sought after hunting opportunities in the state is the special Mahannah bucks-only hunt traditionally held in December during the prime time rut. 

“If you harvest a mature doe, then you’re in the drawing for the special December hunt,” said Holt.

The region has other good options.

“Sunflower and Twin Oaks are your next best bets, in my opinion,” said Holt. “It would be a toss-up between them as both have the capability to produce really good deer.”

Sunflower has thousands of acres of timberland for the big bucks to hide so it should come as no surprise that it is a prolific producer of quality bucks. 

“I’ve seen some real impressive bucks come off of Sunflower,” Holt said. “It’s a huge area and they’ve got places to hide and get old and grow big, even when the pressure’s on.”

Twin Oaks has consistently produced trophy bucks over the years as well though the harvest numbers have been down during recent years. 


Waterfowl

While the South Delta is well known for its quality deer hunting, it is quickly becoming one of the premier duck hunting regions in the south. A variety of ducks stop off in the many flooded fields, sloughs and green tree reservoirs that are found on the many WMAs. 

“Mallards are usually everybody’s big targets, and we have lots of mallards, gadwalls and pintails,” said Holt. “And we also have a lot of widgeons, canvasback and wood ducks.”

With such a wide variety of habitat — shallow, deep and flooded fields — and places for ducks to feed and rest, you might find different species in a wide variety of places. There’s always an impressive amount of mallards, and pintails are always prevalent, too. 

“A lot depends upon the water level and where you are hunting,” Holt said. “Some areas have buffleheads and scaups, while others have mallards, pintails or woodies.

“I was hunting the Delta National Forest many years ago, and I killed a mottled duck. We didn’t think any would be there and thought he should’ve been down in Louisiana. But, the area is so massive and has such a wide array of habitat that you may see waves of the odd ducks too.”

Just as with deer, Mahannah is a good place to start looking for ducks.

“Mahannah has real good opportunities for duck hunters including field and timber hunting,” said Holt. “If somebody is willing to go in and spend the time looking for the ducks and get back in the timber and find the holes you can be very successful.

“Mahannah just speaks to me on a different level. Finding a place in the timber that has a water hole where they want to be and watching them drop in over your head is a whole ’nother game and I enjoy that more and it’s a very real possibility at Mahannah. But you have got to find the holes and where they like to stay before the day of your hunt.”

Howard Miller WMA, named for a long-time Wildlife Commissioner from Vicksburg, is strictly a waterfowl hunting area and it ranks among the top in terms of duck numbers and harvest rates each year. 

“I’ve done consistently well on Howard Miller and they have a lot going on there and it’s all about waterfowl,” said Holt. “We do moist soil management and plant a little cover if we don’t have enough natural grasses coming up like we like to see them. We’ll go in and plant some things to put food in there, too.”

Farmer’s usually plant corn and beans and some of the corn is left in the fields for feed and cover for the hunters while the beans are usually harvested by the farmers. There is usually a little rice farming done on the area and that also leaves a little different food source to attract ducks as well. 

“Howard Miller’s a pretty good place to hunt,” Holt said. “It’s a tough place to compete with no matter which public land you might hunt on.”


Small game

Hold said the region’s bottomland forests and the agency’s management strategies provide opportunity for small game. There’s plenty of small game hunting opportunities for squirrel and even rabbit in some areas.

“There are plenty of mature hardwoods and nut-bearing trees so squirrels abound on the Sunflower and Delta National Forest area,” Holt said. “Hunters have a lot of success on these areas also.” 

Mahannah and Twin Oaks are also chock full of squirrels, but also have thickets that are home to rabbits. If you’re looking to harvest a Mississippi triple — black, red and gray squirrels —then look no further than these two areas.

Lake George is one of the most popular WMAs in the state for rabbits, and Sunflower also offers good rabbit habitat in certain areas.


Southeast Region

WMAs: Chickasawhay, Mason Creek, Leaf River, Little Biloxi, Red Creek, Ward Bayou.


Deer

Southeast regional biologist Nathan Blount has great news for deer hunters in 2015: “We’re expecting great things in this region this fall and winter. We’ve been seeing a lot of deer, and everything is lining up for this to be a good year. This region is also the most heavily hunted, and we have four of the most hunted WMAs in the state.” 

The massive Leaf River WMA gets the majority of the attention.

“Leaf River is the place to go if you want to kill a deer in this region,” Blount said. “Last year hunters harvested 215 deer, and they reported seeing a lot of deer and a lot of young bucks as well. With 41,000 acres available to hunt, hunters can pick their spots and get away from the crowd if they desire.”

Although lower than many areas of the state, bucks aged at 4½ years usually weigh around 130 pounds. A buck with a 15-inch inside spread and at least 18-inch main beams is a very good buck in this region due to poor quality habitat and sandy soil. They’re getting to maturity but the nutrition and ideal diets are not conducive to growing Delta style bucks. 

“I’d say your best bet for killing a good buck is going to be at Little Biloxi WMA,” Blount said. “Mature bucks are a little larger there and average a little bigger than the rest of the bucks killed in the region.”

Little Biloxi has approximately 14,500 acres and is open to still hunting only, which makes it very attractive to many hunters. It had its highest harvest rate in over a decade last year, including some very good bucks.

“Mason Creek is another good area that has 28,000 acres and is made up of mostly pines with three hardwood drainages which provide some mast and food for the deer during the season, and it is open to dog hunting,” Blount said. “During the still hunting only season, there is very little hunting pressure, which should make for good hunting as well.”

Chickasawhay is all still hunting and there is a lot of room for hunters to get off by themselves. The WMA doesn’t get the hunter participation or pressure it once did. Another incentive for hunters is that over half of the bucks harvested last year on this WMA were mature bucks 4½ years of age or older. 

“Red Creek is another great opportunity for deer hunters as it is a still hunting only area with 23,000 acres, and it gets very low hunting pressure,” said Blount. “Although we don’t have the deer density there like in some other areas, there are some places where deer concentrate. There’s hardwood mast along the creek on the north side of the area, and there’s a lot of good food and browse from prescribe burning on the area.”

Hunting is open through mid February in the region, and Blount said the final two weeks provide some of the best hunting in this region for mature bucks. Several trophy bucks were harvested during the late period last season.

Pascagoula WMA was the scene of a 13-point, 150-plus point buck that was harvested on Feb. 1. The buck had 5-inch bases, 22½-inch main beams and an 18½-inch inside spread. It weighed 155 pounds. 

“Leaf River’s biggest two bucks were harvested on Jan. 30 and Feb. 3, also,” Blount said. 

At Little River, a lucky hunter scored on the final day of the deer season (Feb. 15), harvesting what may have been the biggest buck taken in the region. 

“Little River had its best buck harvested on the final day of the season, and it was a big 10 point that weighed 170 pounds, had 22-inch main beams and a 19-inch inside spread,” said Blount. 

That’s a trophy buck anywhere in the Magnolia State.


Waterfowl

“Pascagoula River and Ward Bayou are the top waterfowl producing WMAs in the Southeast Region,” said Blount. “Pascagoula has mostly wood ducks scattered up and down the river and in backwater sloughs.” 

Hunters may access the river by boat and many put their boats in and travel to secluded duck holes and sloughs away from the beaten path. Others walk in and work the sloughs and river as well. 

“Ward Bayou also offers excellent waterfowl hunting and the southernmost portion of the WMA reaches into the marsh,” Blount said. “Hunters will find a variety of ducks in the Marsh and they usually have good luck there too.”


Small game

While quail hunting in the Magnolia State is basically a thing of the past, surprisingly, there are still a few WMAs that have huntable quail populations in this region. That’s rare these days, and partly a result of enhanced wildlife management that enabled the quail to thrive. 

“Chickasawhay has the best quail harvest over the whole state, and that should come as no surprise to the dedicated local quail hunters who are very successful hunting there,” Blount said. “Leaf River also provides an excellent opportunity to harvest quail as it has mostly open mature timber throughout the WMA. The U. S. Forest Service conducts a lot of prescribed burning on the area and in turn that provides some excellent quail habitat.”

It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged this Southeast region, and it still affects hunting. In one sense, it is positive. With the canopy gouged, thickets exploded, and so did rabbits.

“Pascagoula and Ward Bayou have excellent rabbit hunting opportunities where you have thickets,” said Blount. “Hunters are successful at both of those areas. Little Biloxi is another good area in the region and it has lots of thickets and hunters are very successful there.”