While deer hunting is legal throughout December, hunters need to remember that there are several season changes during the month. Regulations vary between the different seasons.
December begins on the final day of the first gun season when running deer with dogs is allowed, but the gun/dog season ends quickly.
On Dec. 2, the primitive weapon season begins, at least technically. Hunters on private lands can still use any firearm deemed legal for deer, but on public lands they are restricted to primitive weapons as defined by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Weapons legal for use during the primitive weapons season are all archery equipment and primitive firearms. Primitive firearms for the purpose of hunting deer are defined as single or double-barreled muzzle-loading rifles of at least .38 caliber; OR single shot, breech loading, metallic-cartridge rifles (.35 caliber or larger) and replicas, reproductions or reintroductions of those type rifles with an exposed hammer; OR single or double-barreled muzzle-loading shotguns, with single ball or slug.
All muzzle-loading, primitive firearms must use black powder or a black powder substitute with percussion caps, #209 shotgun primers or flintlock ignition. A black-powder substitute is defined as a substance designed, manufactured and specifically intended to be used as a propellant in muzzle-loading or other black powder firearms, excluding modern smokeless powder.
Metallic cartridges may be loaded with either black powder or modern smokeless powder (cartridges purchased at sporting goods stores). Telescopic sights are allowed while hunting with any primitive firearm during the primitive weapon seasons. A telescopic sight is defined as an optical sighting device with any magnification.
During any open season on deer with primitive weapons after Nov. 30, a person may use any legal weapon of choice on private lands only, if the person is the title owner of the land, the lessee of the hunting rights on the land, a member of a hunting club leasing the hunting rights on the land, or a guest of a person specified above. If the person is required to have a hunting license, the person must have a primitive weapon license, Sportsman’s License, or a Lifetime Sportsman’s License.
On Dec. 16, the season shifts to gun/no dogs, aka the still season. During this eight-day season (ends Dec. 23), and the preceding primitive weapon season, running deer with dogs is strictly prohibited.
On Dec. 24, the gun/dog season returns and will continue through Jan. 22.
December’s statewide deer seasons
- Dec. 1: Gun/dog
- Dec. 2-15: Primitive weapon (weapon of choice on private land)
- Dec. 16-23: Gun/no dog (still season)
- Dec. 24-Jan. 22: Gun/dog
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