Mississippi’s Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks held an emergency meeting Thursday and announced that it would soon be ending deer season further south along the flooding Mississippi River.

At the close of legal shooting hours on Sunday, Jan. 17, all hunting, including wild hog, with the exception of waterfowl, will cease:

* from Vicksburg south to Port Gibson, west of U.S. Highway 61.

* from Port Gibson south to U.S. Highway 84 in Natchez, west of the Natchez Trace

* from Natchez, south to the state line, west of U.S. Highway 61.

“That doesn’t affect us; nature has already shut us down,” said John Bridges of Jackson, whose club is south of Port Gibson along Bayou Pierre near its juncture with the Mississippi River. “We can no longer get from our entry gate to our hunting land. We moved all our ATVs and shooting houses last week because after (the Mississippi River) hits 50 at Vicksburg, it gets to our barn and boating in is no longer an option.

“We’ve seen a lot of deer coming through us heading to high ground further in from the river and bayou. It wasn’t very sporting — too easy.”

These new areas are in addition to the closures already announced along the Mississippi River and a few inland areas from Vicksburg to the Tennessee border.

The Commission’s order also declares all areas inundated by floodwaters to be “no wake” zones. The MDWFP continues to discourage any boating in affected areas other than by people with property in the affected areas retrieving their belongings.

The Mississippi River has exceeded flood stage at all key gauges along the river. Waters are not expected to recede to normal levels until after the close of most open hunting seasons. The closure of hunting seasons in the affected areas will remain in place until river levels drop to safe levels (two feet) below flood stage, or until the previously established ending date for the season – whichever occurs first.

The MDWFP has increased its law enforcement presence in the affected areas to promote public safety for residents affected by the rising waters, and to enforce the wildlife laws that protect game animals affected by flooding. The agency has issued many citations including two arrests for excessive deer kills in a closed season.

The MDWFP will continue to monitor the situation as it develops to determine whether or not any changes in the closures will be necessary.