Areas that have been closed to hunting — except waterfowl — due to flooding in the Mississippi River alluvial plain will not reopen before the Jan. 31 closing date of deer season, state wildlife officials announced on today.

Acting on a recommendation by MDWFP technical staff, the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks voted Wednesday not to reopen the affected areas before Jan. 31.

The Commission also said the areas will remain “no wake zones” through at least Jan. 31.

Mississippi’s deer season entered its final segment statewide today with the opening of the extended primitive weapon season, but since private lands are open to weapon of choice the change only affects hunters who use public lands.

Extended seasons run through Jan. 31 in the Hill and Delta Zones, and through Feb. 15 in the Southeast Zone. In the Southeast, beginning on Feb. 1, hunters aged 16 and over will be limited to legal bucks only on both private and public lands. Children 15 and under will be allowed to take antlerless deer.

With Wednesday’s action, no deer hunting will be allowed in many parts of the Delta Zone.

According to a news release, backwater flooding has been deemed too high for animals to return to their original habitat and food sources, even though, in some areas, the Mississippi River has dropped to just below flood levels.

The MDWFP continues to discourage any boating in affected areas other than by property owners retrieving their belongings. Increased law enforcement presence will continue in the affected areas to patrol levees and enhance public safety for residents and property, and to enforce laws that protect wildlife.

“At least that removes all the guesswork about it,” said Keith Thomas of Vicksburg, an avid deer hunter whose camp in Claiborne County is in a closed area. “We’ve been wondering if we would be able to hunt again and watching the Vicksburg gauge and river projections, and now we won’t have to. That’s one less thing to worry about.

“We had stopped hunting most of our low property long before the closures were made, so we basically have lost about six weeks of our season, from mid-December through January. Fortunately, most of us have other areas to hunt or enough friends with camps outside the closures to keep hunting.”