For many Mississippians, one of the biggest days on the calendar comes Saturday, Nov. 23, when the regular deer season — with guns and dogs — opens statewide.
Legal hours are 30 minutes prior to sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, or in Jackson 6:07 a.m. until 5:27 p.m. (sunsets and sunrises for any Mississippi town can be found here sunrisesunset.com/USA/Mississippi/.
“We’ve been preparing for opening day since … well, since Jan. 31 when last year’s season ended for us,” said Billy Henderson of Brandon, whose entire family of five will be at camp Friday night and in stands before sunrise on Saturday. “For us, this is like Thanksgiving and Christmas together, because we’re so thankful for the gift of deer hunting as a family.”
The Hendersons will be among nearly 200,000 Mississippi residents and non-residents who will hunt during the upcoming season.
“Our club in Jefferson County has 25 members (most with families), about half of which live in Mississippi,” Henderson said. “The other half mostly come from Louisiana and we have two from Alabama and one from Pensacola. We’re an eclectic group, but we have one thing in common — having fun at deer camp.
“I know a lot of Mississippians who turn their noses up at non-resident hunters, but I think it’s great. They spend a lot of money here, which is important to the state, but there’s a bigger bonus. Man, those Louisiana folk can sure cook up a storm and they love to bring seafood and cook it up.”
Henderson has spent several days in a deer stand already, sitting with his youngest children, both under 15, who have been hunting with guns during the youth season that started Nov. 9.
“My son John got a nice little 8-point and my daughter Ronnie got a spike and a doe the same day, which was her first time to take a gun to the stand,” he said. “We’ve seen some bigger bucks, but they were too far away to take a good shot. Maybe they can get one of those, too. Hey, maybe I can too.”
They’ll get plenty of opportunity. Beginning Saturday, the Hendersons, like all hunters on private land in Mississippi, can use their weapon of choice through Jan. 31. That includes the regular primitive weapon season in December and the extended late primitive weapon/archery season in January.
- This first gun season with dogs runs through Dec. 1.
- Primitive weapon season opens Dec. 2 and ends Dec. 15.
- The gun season without dogs, a.k.a. still season, is Dec. 16-Dec. 23.
- The second gun season with dogs is Dec. 23-Jan. 22.
- The late primitive weapon/archery season is Jan. 23-Jan. 31.
In the Southeast Zone, the late primitive weapon/archery season extends until Feb. 15, but after Feb. 1 only legal bucks can be taken.
There are significant changes involving Zones and limits for the 2019-2020 season.
For antlered bucks, the limit is one daily in every zone. The season limit is three in all zones but the newly formed South Delta Zone where the limit is two. In every zone, a change allows one of the three bucks to be of any antler size.
For antlerless deer, there is more variation.
The only bag limit on private lands in the Northeast, Delta, East Central and Southwest zones is five per season, meaning hunters in those zones can take up to all five does on one day while hunting on private land. In those zones on public land, the daily limit is one per day with a season limit of five.
In the new South Delta Zone, the only limit is two per season on private land, but one per day on public land with a season limit of two.
In the Southeast Zone, the limit is one antlerless deer per day with a seasonal limit of two on both public and private lands combined. Youth can take bucks of any antler size up to the published daily and season limit for the zone being hunted.
With gun season opening, there should be a significant increase in the number of trophy bucks and interesting stories. Watch for them on MS-Sportsman.com.
If you get lucky, and find yourself, a relative or a friend with a good deer story, be sure to share the story with Mississippi Sportsman at ms-sportsman.com/field-reports/.