Mississippi’s first gun season on deer opens on Saturday, but only the youngest of hunters get the opportunity to begin shooting at whitetails.

The youth season, limited to hunters aged 15 and under, opens statewide on private lands and on public lands. They can continue to hunt legally with firearms through Jan. 31 in the Hill and Delta Zones and through Feb. 15 in the Southeast Zone.

Youth may carry and use any firearm with which they can safely hunt, and in compliance with other applicable laws, rules and regulations. 

Youth can take either sex deer, and there are no antler restrictions on bucks. The limit is three bucks per season.

Antlerless deer limits vary. In the Hill and Delta Zones, the limit is five per season on private lands but the limit is only three in the Southeast Zone and on U.S. National Forest lands. 

A child at least 12 years of age and under 16 years of age must have a certificate of satisfactory completion of a hunter education course approved by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks before hunting alone, otherwise they must hunt in the presence of and under the direct supervision of a Mississippi licensed or exempt hunter at least 21 years of age when the child is hunting. A child under the age of 12 must be in the presence and under the direct supervision of a licensed or exempt hunter at least 21 years of age when the child is hunting. 

A resident apprentice hunting license may be issued to a resident over the age of 15 who does not have the required certificate of hunter education. An apprentice license may be issued only one time to a resident and the apprentice hunting licensee must be accompanied by a licensed or exempt resident hunter at least 21 years of age when hunting. 

Because the youth season is a firearms season, hunter orange rules come into play. When hunting deer during any firearm season on deer, every hunter, whether hunting with a firearm, bow and arrow or any weapon, must wear in full view at least 500 square inches of solid unbroken fluorescent orange. Mesh-style or orange-camouflage is not considered unbroken and does not count toward the 500 inch requirement. 

Hunters shall not be required to wear the 500 inches of solid unbroken hunter orange when:

* Hunting from a deer stand that is elevated 12 feet or more above the ground.

* Hunting in a fully enclosed blind. It is the intent that “fully enclosed blinds” are tripod type stands, ladder stands, blinds and/or “shooting houses” or any other stand, whether located on the ground or elevated above ground, that can be covered so as to hide the hunter from view of game or other hunters.