Draw, aim, and release; It’s archery season

Archery hunters get the first opportunity to test Mississippi’s new deer regulations this fall.
Archery hunters get the first opportunity to test Mississippi’s new deer regulations this fall.

Mississippi’s bowhunters will be the first to chase white-tailed deer and the first to test new bag limits set by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks for the 2019-20 seasons.

Without doubt, the biggest change concerns buck deer. While the season limit remains unchanged at three per hunter — except in the newly formed South Delta Zone where it is two — all hunters on private lands and the Holly Springs National Forest, will now have the option of taking one buck of choice without regard to antler measurement. The other two bucks — or one buck in South Delta — must meet the minimum legal-buck standards for the zone where taken.

Youth ages 15 and under can still take all three without regard to measurements.

Public opinion

While some hunters welcome the change, others view it with vile disagreement.

“That’s absurd,” said Gene Rankin of Madison. “We’ve come so far in quality buck management in this state that to take a step backward and saying it’s okay to take young bucks is a slap in the face. I’m totally opposed to this change.”

Roger Banks of Ridgeland disagrees.

“I’m not going to shoot any small bucks, but I think it’s a great idea to allow hunters the freedom to take at least one buck of choice,” Banks said. “Not all hunters are trophy driven; many are simply out there trying to have fun and put some healthy, low-fat protein on the table. Just because I don’t want to shoot them and don’t need to on our club shouldn’t impact somebody who does not have equal opportunity and is happy to put any deer, any buck, on the ground. I don’t think the majority of trophy hunters ever consider the wants and needs of other hunters.”

The antlerless deer limit varies. The South Zone and South Delta Zones have a two-doe season limit, and in the South Zone, hunters are limited to one per day. For the other zones, the Northeast, North Delta, East Central, and Southwest, the antlerless deer is five per season with no daily limit prescribed — meaning a hunter can take up to five per day, as long as he or she kills no more than five per season.

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Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1298 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.