Mississippi deer hunters would see their antlerless deer opportunities cut significantly during the 2017-18 season, if rules set last week by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks get final proposed approval.

The rule, which came after an extensive hunter survey following the previous season, was announced Friday just prior to a three-day holiday weekend for the state agency and appears to show a drastic change in a decades-long philosophy of antlerless deer — or doe — harvests.

In addition to changing the state’s current three deer zones to a five-zone system — splitting the large Hill Zone into three zones (Northeast, East Central and Southwest), the announced rules would basically eliminate doe harvest on open public lands for the average hunter.

Only archery hunters and youths would be allowed to kill a doe on those lands. It is unclear if the rules would apply to the MDWFP’s system of Wildlife Management Areas, each of which has its own regulations.

It would also impact the doe harvest on private lands. The current limit of five antlerless deer per season in the Delta and new zones would change to three. In the Southeast Zone, the current season limit of three will change to two with a daily limit of one.

Under the proposed rule, the new zones would be:

Delta Zone: Areas west of 1-55 and north of 1-20 plus areas south of 1-20 and west of U.S. Highway 61.

Northeast Zone: Areas east of 1-55 and north of U.S. Highway 82.

East Central Zone: Areas east of 1-55, east of U.S. Highway 49, south of U.S. Highway 82, and north of U.S. Highway 84.

Southwest Zone: Areas east of U.S. Highway 61, south of 1-20, west of U.S. Highway 49, and west of Mississippi Highway 35.

Southeast Zone: Areas south of U.S. Highway 84 and east of Mississippi Highway 35.

The proposal is currently in a 30-day comment period. Comments may be emailed to sharonp@mdwfp.state.ms.us or mailed to Hunting Seasons Rule Comment, 1505 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211.