Mississippi adopts early season; finalizing rules and regulations

Mississippi deer hunters will have a chance to harvest bucks during their velvet stage according to the recently proposed 2022–2023 White-tailed Deer Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits by the MDWFP if the proposal is passed as proposed at the May 19 board meeting.

Effectively, bow hunters will have a chance to harvest a “velvet antlered” buck in September if the proposal is affirmed and becomes law. The actual dates are still to be determined but the hunt could be held as follows:

  • Velvet Season (effective July 1, 2022): Consecutive Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between Sept. 10 – 20 on private lands and specified Wildlife Management Areas.
  • Archery: Longbows, recurves, compound bows, and crossbows. There is no minimum or maximum draw weight. There is no minimum length arrow. Fixed or mechanical broadheads may be used.
  • Only legal bucks for the respective Deer Management Unit may be harvested.
  • The bag limit is one (1) legal buck and count towards the annual antlered deer bag limit.
  • Hunters (including license exempt hunters) must report their harvest by 10 p.m. the day of harvest. Hunters can report via the MDWFP smartphone application or MDWFP web portal.
  • All hunters, unless exempt or have a lifetime license, must possess a valid Velvet Season Permit. The cost of the permit shall be ten dollars ($10).
  • All harvested bucks must be submitted for CWD sampling to a MDWFP CWD drop-off freezer or to an MDWFP participating taxidermist within 5 days of harvest.

“Even though it is called velvet season, it doesn’t have to be in velvet to be harvested. Fifty percent of the bucks shed their velvet by mid-September in North Mississippi. In the southern part of the state, it may be as high as 85 percent of bucks have their velvet,” said Assistant Deer Program Coordinator Kamen Campbell. “I don’t expect a huge number of bucks to be harvested but some really good bucks will be harvested. This season will be for the people who are brave enough to brave the mosquitos and 85-degree heat for a buck.”

The department has said it is being conservative with management of the first such season to see how hunters participate and what the results are.

Several other states have a similar season. In Tennessee, 750 bucks were harvested in their velvet season last year, which is less than one percent of their annual harvest. Although there are some bucks still in velvet during the early bow season in October, a special “velvet season” would give the hunters a chance to harvest bucks with their antlers still in velvet as most will still be in velvet at that time.

The prospect of harvesting a velvet antlered buck is something that excites many diehard bow hunters and crossbow hunters alike. Many of these hunters dream of harvesting a huge buck in velvet and welcome the opportunity to hunt bucks in September.

If Tennessee’s velvet season is any indication of the success of the proposed Mississippi season, then the impact to most hunters should be minimal. While there was a huge amount of interest the first year that they had the velvet season in Tennessee, the enthusiasm dropped off greatly after the first year.

Final season dates, rules and regulations will be announced this summer by the MDWFP. As with all seasons, it is the hunter’s responsibility to know and follow all season dates, rules and regulations.

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About Michael O. Giles 372 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.

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