Mississippi’s Top 10 stories of 2019

Best-read stories on MS-Sportsman.com shed light on what drew attention in Mississippi.

Mississippi’s outdoor scene was certainly not lacking in newsworthy stories throughout 2019. It seemed like a month never passed without something of great interest to hunters and fishermen taking place — some good, some not so good, some just interesting.

We looked at MS-Sportsman.com, the website that accompanies Mississippi Sportsman, and we came up with the 10 most-read stories of 2019.

Hope you enjoy looking back at them, reading them a second time, or maybe for the first time. The following are short versions of those stories. You can check out the full stories for all of our Top 10 at MS-Sportsman.com.

1. A ‘mack daddy’ of a prayer is answered, Oct. 15

Chip Henderson, lead pastor of Pinelake Church, was scrolling through trail-camera photos this past August when one caused his heart to skip a beat. With his head and wheels spinning, he sat, staring at a photo of one of the most eye-popping, beautiful bucks he had ever seen.

Chip Henderson killed the big buck the first time he hunted him, on the afternoon of Oct. 7 — the first time he got a needed north wind. (Photo by Chip Henderson)
Chip Henderson killed the big buck the first time he hunted him, on the afternoon of Oct. 7 — the first time he got a needed north wind. (Photo by Chip Henderson)

Further examination revealed additional photos of the huge, main-frame 10-pointer, and surprisingly, most were taken during daylight hours.

Leading up to the Oct. 1 bow season opening, Henderson, who is from Flowood, accumulated a pile of additional photos of the Hinds County buck. He began to refer to the giant buck as “Mack” — short for “Mack-Daddy” — and as a serious and dedicated bowhunter, he realized that a wily, old buck of this caliber casually traipsing around during daylight hours would probably give him one good opportunity. If the buck realized it was being hunted, it would likely become nocturnal, and Henderson knew he needed to close the deal the first time in, if possible.

That worked out perfectly, when, on Oct. 7, Henderson arrowed the huge buck, which carried a rack with a gross Boone & Crockett Club score of 153 inches, including a 19-inch inside spread, 22-inch main beams and tines as long as 12 inches. ­— Bill Garbo

To read the complete story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/deer-of-the-year/a-mack-daddy-of-a-prayer-is-answered/

2. State alligator gar record is broken, May 16

The Mississippi River is famous for producing wild stories about alligator hunting. It seems it can produce some off-beat tales about alligator gar, too.

Mississippi’s record for alligator gar by archery has been broken for the second time in two years.
Mississippi’s record for alligator gar by archery has been broken for the second time in two years.

On April 22, Hughes Skinner of Madison and Hayden Speed of Flora broke the Mississippi state record for alligator gar, as recognized by the Bowfishing Association of America, with an 8-foot, 223-pound entry.

It was quite a catch and a better story, which was first reported by The Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

“I’d gone out there and put three fish in the boat over 100 pounds the weekend before,” Skinner said. “We hoped to put another in the boat.”

Skinner and Speed first encountered only smaller gar, so Skinner said they went in search of a new area with bigger critters.

Speed was on the deck looking for fish while Skinner was driving the boat when Speed saw something he couldn’t believe about 150 yards away.

“This fish was so big I could see it from 150 yards,” he said. — Bobby Cleveland

To read the complete story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/fishing/freshwater-fishing/state-gator-gar-record-is-broken/

3. Mississippi 2019-2020 deer seasons, June 27

Delta, Northeast, East Central, Southwest Zones.

Mississippi hunters were eagerly looking forward to the upcoming seasons…

 To read the complete story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/mississippi-2019-2020-deer-seasons/

4. Natchez WMA draw hunt produces big buck, Nov. 15

This bruiser was harvested by Kenneth Wallace at Natchez State Park WMA.
This bruiser was harvested by Kenneth Wallace at Natchez State Park WMA.

When Natchez State Park is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is big bass, and rightly so. The biggest largemouth in Mississippi history, weighing 18.15 pounds, was caught in Natchez Lake in 1992.

But there’s also close to 3,000 acres of WMA land available as permit deer hunting for the few hunters lucky enough to be drawn.

Kenneth Wallace and his son, Garrett, from Lincoln County were fortunate enough to draw a four-day Natchez State Park WMA archery partner hunt, Oct. 31-Nov. 3. Everything came together, with a good high-pressure system, cool temperatures, red acorns falling and, most important, a 220-pound, 13-point buck falling. — Andy Douglas

To read the comlplete story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/deer-of-the-year/natchez-wma-draw-hunt-produces-great-buck/

5. A sleeper at Canemount WMA, April 18

Once during the run-in with the sleeping gobbler, Case called loudly trying to wake the tom for a clear head shot. The turkey pulled his head out from under his wing, looked around somewhat, and tucked his head back in. In the photo the gobbler’s eyes are closed.

Brookhaven area resident Ricky Case was excited when he was chosen for one of the limited-draw turkey hunts at Canemount WMA in Claiborne County. His chances were good being that he would be one of two hunters allowed on a three-day hunt on the 3,500-acre WMA.

Case was plagued with bad weather on the first morning of his hunt and didn’t hear or see any turkeys. That afternoon, he called in a tom and a hen but ended up spooking them. The next morning, he had a gobbler coming in “like he was on a string” only to be spooked by three deer. The hunt wasn’t going as planned.

Later on in the morning Case called his wife, Celeste, poor-mouthing about his luck.

“I’ve messed up every way that I can mess up. It just ain’t meant for me to kill a turkey,” said Case, who drove to another spot and parked at a logging road on the southern end of the property. The wind had picked up a little, and Case walked 100 yards down the trail on top of a hill and called loudly with his mouth caller. He didn’t hear anything and kept going downhill toward a creek bottom.

Suddenly, Case walked up on a big gobbler standing in the logging road. His first thought was that the tom was coming up the trail silently to his calling. He raised his gun to shoot him — but there wasn’t a head to shoot at.

He lowered his gun and called a few more times but the gobbler didn’t move. It was asleep with its head under its wing. — Andy Douglas

To read the entire story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/turkey-hunting/a-sleeper-at-canemount-wma/

6. New Bryant WMA rules proposed, May 28

The state’s newly acquired Wildlife Management Area has undergone a name change, and rules and regulations have been proposed for the 18,000-acre area in the South Delta.

Originally called Steele Bayou WMA, it is now named for the current governor: the Phil Bryant WMA. Because of how it will be managed, it will immediately become the most-interesting WMA in Mississippi.

Russ Walsh, executive director of MDWFP’s wildlife bureau, said Bryant WMA will be broken into four units named after some of the hunting camps that once existed on the land: Backwoods, Buck Bayou, Ten Point and Goose Lake. Each unit will offer a unique hunting experience, and hunters will be permitted to hunt through drawings. — Bobby Cleveland

To  read the entire story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/new-bryant-wma-rules-proposed/

7. Carter goes old school on Stone County trophy, Nov. 1

Kyle Carter is old school when it comes to deer hunting with a bow, and he deserves an “A” for both comprehension and application of the pure basics of the sport.

Kyle Carter took this 133-inch, tall and thick trophy buck in Stone County on public land at the Desoto National Forest.
Kyle Carter took this 133-inch, tall and thick trophy buck in Stone County on public land at the Desoto National Forest. (Photos courtesy Kyle Carter)

By finding the buck’s food source, identifying its main trail, and following the path to its bedding area, Carter was able to take one of the best trophies ever killed in Stone County.

And he did all this on public land in Desoto National Forest.

The 10-pointer, which Carter had hunted the previous two seasons as an 8, had a very tall, thick rack that green scored at 133 inches. If it holds that measurement through the 60-day drying period, it would be the highest-ranked buck taken by a bow — and No. 5 by any method — in Stone County, according to Magnolia Records. Stone County is not known for producing big bucks, and that it came on public land makes it even more of a trophy. — Bobby Cleveland

To read the entire story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/deer-of-the-year/carter-goes-old-school-on-stone-county-trophy/

8. Hunter’s second chance nets Hinds County 12-point, Oct. 30

Troyce Luke Whittington of Byram couldn’t believe what he was seeing from his Hinds County deer stand on Oct. 22, and he knew he didn’t want to mess up the situation — again.

Troyce Luke Whittington's 12-point that measured 138 6/8 inches was killed Oct. 22 in Hinds County.
Troyce Luke Whittington’s 12-point that measured 138 6/8 inches was killed Oct. 22
in Hinds County.

He was looking at the buck of his dreams, a 12-pointer that measured 1366/8 inches, a buck he never thought he’d see again in a hunting situation, not after how he missed out on a chance to take the same trophy nearly two weeks earlier.

“Twelve days before, I had located the big buck I wanted to kill,” said Whittington, 25. “He came in at 4 o’clock and was acting really spooky, because a 6-point had already busted me. I knew he was fixing to run off, and I was thinking I’d never see him again. So, I took a risky shot, and I shot right under his belly. I was sick. I felt like I was going to throw up.” — Bobby Cleveland

To read the entire story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/deer-of-the-year/hunters-second-chance-nets-hinds-county-12-point/

9. CWD count now 19; zones grow closer, April 25

The two latest confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease in Mississippi’s free-ranging deer herd brings the total to 19, causing the North CWD Management Zone to expand south.

Two does, one each from Tallahatchie and Panola counties, were recently added to the list of confirmed cases. Because the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ CWD Response Plan impacts areas within 25 miles of a confirmed case, the North Zone grew, adding Sunflower, Leflore and Carroll to a list of 19 other counties affected. Added to three counties in the original Issaquena Zone, Mississippi now has parts or all of 22 counties in CWD Management Zones.

With the North Zone expanding to the south, only three counties — Humphreys, Holmes and Yazoo — keep the two zones separate.

Within the CWD zones, it is illegal to:

  • Supplementally feed wildlife;
  • Establish new mineral sites or add supplements to existing sites;
  • Trap wild hogs without a permit from MDWFP;

Remove certain portions of cervid carcasses from the zone. Only cut/wrapped meat; deboned meat; hides with no head attached; finished taxidermy; antlers with no tissue attached; cleaned skull plates with no brain tissue; and cleaned skulls with no lymphoid or brain tissue can be transported from inside to outside a CWD Management Zone. — Bobby Cleveland

 To view the entire story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/cwd-count-now-19-zones-grow-closer/

10. South Delta’s catastrophic flooding affects wildlife, July 23

When you’re worried about people’s lives and well-being, both certainly being impacted in the catastrophic, backwater flooding that has plagued the South Delta for half of this year, it might seem tacky to discuss the flood’s impact on outdoor sports.

How will deer in the South Delta be affected by this summer’s flooding?
How will deer in the South Delta be affected by this summer’s flooding?

But understand, hunting and fishing is important to the very people hit hardest by the high water. Not only are hunting and fishing a big part of their lives, both have significant economic impact on their pocketbooks, as well as different communities.

“It has been terrible; it is terrible, and you can’t help but worry about how terrible it’s going to be in the long term,” said Jeff Terry, an avid hunter, fisherman and land manager from Eagle Lake Community about 20 miles north of Vicksburg. “We’re seeing wildlife stressed to the limits, from deer to turkey to alligators to … look the list is long and getting longer. — Bobby Cleveland

To read the entire story, visit https://www.ms-sportsman.com/hunting/deer-hunting/south-deltas-catastrophic-flooding-affects-wildlife/

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