According to biologist Cody Haynes of WDWFP, the major change for this region will be an increased opportunity for hunters to harvest antlerless deer this year.
“We’re going back to what was normal for us, and that is to help control the deer population by harvesting more antlerless deer,” he said.
Although this region typically has smaller antlered deer than most of the regions, there are ample opportunities to harvest deer, including trophy bucks, for hunters willing to spend the time and effort both scouting and hunting.
Old River WMA
“Old River has quality hunting, with some good deer harvested each year,” Haynes said. “This WMA has a pretty big tract of land, but it’s not easily accessible with all of the creeks, rivers and sloughs in it. The best access is by boat if you know where to go.”
Old River also has more deer hunters, but the area is so large it really doesn’t get an undue amount of pressure.
Leaf River WMA
“Leaf River has a higher deer population, and it’s the largest deer herd in the region,” Haynes said. “Leaf River and Pascagoula WMA are the two biggest in the region also.”
“Mature bucks ages 41/2 to 51/2 years old typically will weigh from 160 to 180 pounds, with the 180-pounders being the exception — but a really good deer here,” Haynes said. “Deer that live to be at least six years of age are capable of growing racks from 130 to 140 inches, which is about as good as it gets down here.”
Pascagoula, Ward Bayou, Old River, Wolf River, Theodore Mars WMAs
Most the areas in the southeast region have good populations of squirrels but Pascagoula, Ward Bayou and Old River are the most-popular areas. They have a lot of bottomland, hardwood areas, and those are the best areas to concentrate on and hunt.
“Wolf River also has the Bachman squirrels, which is a subspecies of the fox squirrel,” Haynes said.
The Bachman squirrels are large squirrels, typically having a reddish color with black coloration on the upper body and head with white on the nose, ears.
“Theodore Mars, near Poplarville is a great place for small game and rabbits in particular,” Haynes said. “And Ward Bayou, near Vancleave, also has some pretty good squirrel hunting.”
According to Haynes, this is not a great area for waterfowl hunting, but you can harvest wood ducks along the creeks, sloughs, and rivers.
Ward Bayou, Pascagoula River and Old River offer excellent wood duck opportunities, and occasionally, you’ll have some dabbling ducks come in also.