It’s finally November, and we all know what that means. For fellow members of the deer-hunting community, the past nine months have been slowly and steadily building toward November.
Untold amounts of toil, sweat and treasure have been expended to get us where we are right now. It is a dizzying realization when you think about how many tractors, ATVs, pickups, trailers, farm implements, pounds of food-plot seed and fertilizer, sacks of supplemental feed, sticks of treated lumber, sheets of decking and plywood, gallons of diesel and gasoline, man-hours of labor, and on and on, until I run out of room to write. As we all know, deer season is a really big deal.
To kick things off, let’s first go over some important proposed changes that the MDWFP announced in late September to deer-hunting rules and regulations. The proposed changes should be enacted and become official by November, but do not assume anything. To be absolutely certain, be sure to check the final regulations before you head to the woods.
Regarding deer season:
Importation of cervid carcasses from ANY state, regardless of CWD status, is now prohibited.
It is lawful to hunt less than 100 yards from feed or a feeder.
Beginning, July 1, 2019, it is unlawful to use natural scents or lures that contain natural, cervid biofluids, or other biological material.
The first bullet point, of course, is relevant to any hunter who hunts outside of Mississippi, is successful and wants to bring meat, antlers, cape, etc., back to Mississippi. A cervid is a hoofed mammal of the “deer family” Cervidae, which includes whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, moose, caribou, axis and sitka, among others. Check the regulations closely, as the new requirements are very stringent.
The second bullet point means that it will now be lawful, starting with the 2018-19 season, to hunt deer less than 100 yards from and within sight of, feed or a feeder. I was never really a fan of feeders and feed, but years ago, when it became lawful to feed under strict guidelines, I jumped on the bandwagon and employed them mainly during deer season for use with game cameras.
Even though regulations required that a feeder had to be at least 100 yards away from a hunter, and screened from view, a lot of hunters did abide by this regulation, but I always felt that many hunters hunted within sight of their feeders and used them as bait in spite of the regulations. So the regulations might as well catch up with reality.
The third bullet point is quite interesting since it outlaws the use of cover scents, scent bombs and lures that contain natural cervid fluids. But the good thing is, this new regulation will not go into effect until after July 1, 2019. This will give all of us time to go through our hunting closets and locate anything that will be unlawful after that date, and to use it all up this current season, which I plan to do. The key phrase is “natural cervid fluids,” so I will have to look closely at my stock of “doe-in-heat scent,” rutting buck urine, deer scent gel, aerosol estrus doe scent bomb and anything else similar that I might have on hand.
As we transition into the pre-rut period this month, if they are not already in place, get your trail cameras out. If you have at least a few years under your belt in the whitetail woods, you have probably noticed that across the breadth of a deer season you will see homebody bucks that pretty much live on your property all year, bucks that suddenly appear and stay through the rut, bucks that you have been watching that suddenly disappear, and last, bucks that appear maybe just once and maybe stay for a day or two and then vanish. Help in understanding this phenomenon is on the way.
The Mississippi State University Deer Lab is two years into a three-year study of year-round, buck-movement patterns. When finished, it should provide great insight into just what is going on. According to professor Steve Demarais, early returns are pointing toward the fact that 60 percent of bucks tend to have a sedentary personality, with the remaining 40 percent being more mobile and ranging around more.
The Big Black corridor in Madison and Yazoo counties is the setting for the study, which began in 2016 with the capture of 55 mature bucks that were fitted with GPS tracking collars and ear tags and released. To enhance the result, a number of hunting clubs and landowners in and adjacent to the collared-buck release area have agreed to collect detailed information about when and where they hunt throughout each hunting season of the study period, so that the effect of hunter pressure can be also analyzed. I absolutely cannot wait to see the results.
Regarding the pre-rut, rut, and post-rut time frames, my personal experience has documented four broad categories of bucks:
• Resident bucks
• Range shifter bucks
• Range expander bucks
• Occasional traveler bucks