Mississippi's last remaining mandatory primitive weapon deer season begins Monday in the Hill and Delta management zones.

It is for antlerless deer and is open Nov. 9 through Nov. 20 on private lands and open public lands.

 All other primitive weapon seasons in Mississippi allow hunters on private lands to use weapon of choice, including modern centerfile rifles and shotguns. This early season is to give hunters additional opportunities to manage their antlerless deer herd.

“Deer Management Assistance Program data indicate many deer populations across Mississippi are at or greatly above habitat carrying capacity,” says David Graves, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) Central Region deer biologist. “Participation in the special primitive weapons season is important to reduce antlerless deer numbers in areas where deer populations are high. 

"Meeting antlerless deer harvest objectives early in the season will increase the potential for increased buck observation and harvest during the rut.”

It is an opportunity many hunters, like Gerald Thompson of Flowood, relish.

"I still have a true muzzleloader and a .35 Whelen. but when they started letting use weapon of choice during the December and January primitive seasons I figured it would be stupid not to use one of my centerfires," he said. "This early season still gives me the opportunity to use my muzzleloader if it isn't raining and my .35 Whelen if it is, and put some early doe meat in the freezer.

"A great thing about the timing is that  the youth season is open, too (it began Saturday), so I can take my grandson and he can use one stand and hunt bucks and I can ether sit with him or in a different stand and hunt does."      

MDWFP regularions define primitive weapons for deer hunting as single- or double-barreled muzzle-loading rifles of at least .38; or single-shot, breech-loading, metallic cartridge rifles (.35 or larger) and replicas, reproductions, or reintroductions of those type rifles with an exposed hammer; OR single or double barreled muzzle-loading shotguns, with single ball or slug.  All muzzle-loading primitive firearms must use black powder or a black powder substitute with percussion caps, No. 209 shotgun primers, or flintlock ignition.

Because the youth and muzzleloader seasons are open, all deer hunters are required to wear hunter orange (500 unbroken square inches minimum, fully exposed), while hunting. However, changes last year allow hunters to remove orange if in an elevated stand 12 feet or higher, or in a completely enclosed stand or shooting house.

This early opportunity is not open in the Southeast Zone due to lower deer populations.

The gun season opens Nov. 21 statewide.