Mississippi’s first gun season opens tomorrow (Nov. 5), but only for youth hunters aged 15 and younger, who may use any firearm to take any deer they want up to the state limit.

According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, youths are allowed to shoot bucks regardless of size and dimensions of antlers

In other words, zone-specific antler spread and main-beam lengths do not apply to youths.

The annual buck limit for youngsters in all deer zones is one buck per day and three per season; however, the antlerless limit differs. In the Delta and Hill Zones, the limit is five per season with no daily limit. The antlerless limit is one per day, three per season in the Southeast Zone.

While current drought conditions have left food plots high and dry this fall, deer are in good shape, an agency biologist said.

“The abundant late spring and early summer rains have resulted in above average antler growth and fawn production,” MDWFP’s William McKinley said. “We are expecting a better than average season in both number and quality.”

The MDWFP said that because a gun season opens Saturday and will continue through the end of all deer seasons (Jan. 31 in Hill and Delta Zones, Feb. 15 in Southeast), all deer hunters — including archers — must wear hunter orange unless they are inside a fully enclosed hunting stand or in a hunting stand that is at least 12 feet above the ground.

They should also take time prior to hunting to ensure they have all the proper safety equipment:

• A minimum of 500 square inches of hunter orange.

• Full body harness for tree stands.

• Emergency signal device such as a whistle, cell phone or a flashing light.

• A flashlight for walking to and from stands in the dark.

• A hunting plan that includes notifying someone else about location.