Mississippi provides its public-land hunters with some great opportunities across the entire state
Shane McCullough slowly waded through frigid flood waters on Twin Oaks Wildlife Management Area with one destination in mind: a red-hot spot he’d found while scouting for buck sign.
The temperature was 28 degrees, but McCullough was burning up after 45 minutes walking with a climbing stand on his back. He climbed high in a tree and settled in for the morning, having found a dry spot in the middle of the flood waters and surveying the area around him, looking for any sign of a deer.
“I spotted movement and quickly focused on the spot,” McCullough said. “Five or six does were feeding toward me, and they fed up to the edge of the water, and I spotted something white glistening behind them. A shooter buck was trailing them.”
The buck followed the does as if he was on a string, walking directly into the range of McCullough’s 50-caliber Knight Muzzleloader.
The blackpowder rifle roared, “Tic-BOOM!”
“He crossed a slough and fell dead just across it,” McCullough said. “The buck was a 200 pound 8-point sporting a big, tall rack spanning almost 18 inches wide.”
“If you like hunting trophy bucks, then the Delta WMAs are the ticket, but you have to put in your time scouting if you want to harvest a big buck,” McCullough said. “You can’t show up the morning of the hunt and go in blind; it just doesn’t work that way.”
McCullough has enjoyed many successful hunts on WMAs over the course of his hunting career, and it points to the opportunities that Mississippi hunters have if they put in the time scouting and hunting. This year should be no different for thousands of successful public-land hunters.
Although a few WMAs have been affected by long-term flooding this year, the state of the public-land deer herd in Mississippi is good, and hunters should be excited about the opportunities to harvest deer, ducks, squirrel, rabbits and even a few quail.
“Malmaison is definitely the place to hunt if you’re looking for quality deer,” said Brad Holder, a biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “We usually harvest two or three nice bucks, and it’s not uncommon to have a 140 to 160 (inch deer) killed every year or every other year there.”
“Malmaison is just going to produce bigger deer on average, and we have better antler regulations to help the bucks live longer.”
Charles Ray Nix WMA
“We have a lot of deer at Charles Ray Nix, and we try to manage for a better-quality buck there with the 15- to 18-inch antler regulations,” Holder said. “The deer habitat is great, and this soil region is second only to the Delta — and maybe even neck and neck with it. It’s juxtaposed to agricultural landscape that also provides high protein foods.”
Upper Sardis WMA
“When you’re just hunting for a deer, then the Upper Sardis is the place to go, as we follow the statewide regulations there and use the 10/13 antler regulations,” Holder said. “We’ve also increased the antlerless harvest this year, partly because of the CWD problems. The antlerless harvest opportunity is just a return to what we’d always had in the past, and you can kill a number of does there.”
A new regulation for Upper Sardis. “We are now allowing one of your 3-buck limit to be any antlered deer for adults,” he said.
Malmaison/Charles Ray Nix WMAs
“Malmaison is our flagship waterfowl area in this region,” Holder said. “The McIntyre Scatters and the Malmaison Greentree reservoirs are popular areas that hold a lot of ducks. The Scatters consistently produces a lot of ducks, too.”
Upper Sardis WMA
“The north end of the Upper Sardis area is a good area as well,” Holder said. “Hunters can expect to harvest a variety of ducks on these areas, including greenheads, gadwalls, teal, shovelers, widgeon and on a few pintails on occasion.”
Malmaison/Upper Sardis WMAs
“A lot of people squirrel hunt Malmaison and Upper Sardis,” Holder said. “Malmaison has about 9,000 acres of hardwood forests, and there’s quite a few squirrels and squirrel hunting there.”
The Upper Sardis WMA has 54,000 acres, and all is forested with a mixture of pines and hardwood, which makes it prime for squirrel hunting.
Charles Ray Nix WMA
”Charles Ray Nix has a lot of good rabbit habitat, and most people hunting rabbits in this region hunt this WMA,” said Holder. “We welcome all rabbit hunters, and it’s open hunting with no draw for small game.”