Considered as one of the best states for all game species hunting, Mississippi has consistently bragged the top rank for deer hunting in the United States over the years.
With an estimated public hunting land of 1.6 million acres filled with Wildlife Management Areas, National Forests and a wide variety of wildlife, Mississippi manages to attract non-resident hunters as well as natives every year.
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1. What Species To Hunt
Deer is the most hunted and harvested species in Mississippi with hunters harvesting approximately 280,000 deer on an annual basis. With the growth of deer population estimated around 1.75 million, Mississippi provides quality deer hunting to visitors coming from across the world.
It has been recorded that in the year of 2016, Mississippi ranked first not only for the highest number of deer being harvested but also for the numbers of mature bucks being hunted.
If you also want to be one of those lucky hunters, don’t forget to visit Mississippi’s Delta region, Mahannah, Twin Oaks, Sunflower to hunt the best bucks in the United States.
1.2 Wild Turkey
Turkey hunting in Mississippi has changed over the ages. Once pushed to the boundaries of being extinct, wild turkeys now thrive in big numbers allowing hunters to participate in both spring and fall seasons.
However, laws are stringent when it comes to adult hunting of turkeys as only gobblers with 6-inch or longer beards can be hunted.
Alligator hunting was first introduced in Mississippi in 2005 in 7 geographical zones over the state. Alligators can be hunted all across Mississippi, though the numbers and size of the alligators are restricted by law.
They are mostly found in the southern parts of the country both in public and private lands.
1.4 Black Bear
There are two species of black bear available in Mississippi- the American black bear and the Louisiana black bear.
It was once termed as the Federally Threatened Species but the black bear program of the state helped to increase its population over the state and also managed to remove the tag.
Now uncontested for bear hunting in the United States, Mississippi is home to black bears along the rivers such as the Mississippi, Pearl, Pascagoula where they can be easily found.
Like other game species, migratory birds offer excellent hunting opportunities coming in record numbers in the wintering area of Mississippi.
Waterfowls include a wide variety of ducks such as gadwall, green-winged teal, mallards, northern pintails, wood duck. The Mississippi Delta region is the hotspot for all kinds of waterfowl hunting.
Mississippi is home to three different kinds of geese -greater snow geese, speckle-belly geese and Canadian geese. Though this migrating species often create nuisance in agricultural fields and harm Delta waterfowlers, they are fun to hunt.
From the mid-year of the last decade, habitat loss and lack of management contributed to the decline of bobwhite quail population in Mississippi. As a result, this species cannot be heavily taken down by hunters in the state with a bag limit of 8 quails per hunter.
This animal has two subspecies in Mississippi- gray and fox squirrels. Mostly limited in the open upland areas, fox squirrels also have two categories- the Delta fox squirrels, heavily populated in the Delta region and Hill Country fox squirrels whose numbers are declining day by day.
However, you will find plenty of gray squirrels in most areas of the state.
Dove hunting is the most popular small game species hunting sport among the Mississippians. There are two different zones such as north and south for dove hunting in Mississippi during the fall.
Like quail, rabbit population in Mississippi is heavily affected though not severely. The two species of rabbits such as the cottontail rabbit and the swamp rabbit are found throughout the state.
However, cottontail rabbits, often called as hillbilly are numerous compared to swamp rabbits or cane-cutters.
1.11 Nuisance Animals
Animals which cause harm or destroy human vegetation or property life or even threaten human lives are termed as nuisance animals.
Any nuisance animal, native or non-native, can be trapped or hunted with a legal license for trapping or hunting. In the state of Mississippi, beaver, coyote, fox, nutria, skunk is defined as “nuisance animals”.
The rules and regulations related to weapon, bag limit, possession limit vary in different zones during open seasons in the state of Mississippi.
- Deer hunting season lasts from October to February. Hunters are allowed to hunt with archery equipment, guns and even dogs, though every zone has their own regulations.
- Squirrels are hunted in two seasons -spring and fall. The fall season starts from October to February whereas hunters can take down squirrels during the spring season from May to June.
- Rabbit open season lasts from October to February. Hunters can pursue only 8 of them daily.
- Quails are open to be hunted from November to March.
- Duck season usually starts from November to January.
- Turkey hunting season lasts from March to May in the spring.
- Hunters can hunt geese in the months of November, December and January.
- Waterfowl hunting for youth, veteran and active military personnel happen in the month of February.
- Nuisance animals such as raccoon, opossum, bobcat can be hunted at night almost throughout the year.
3. Where To Hunt
3.1 Wildlife Management Areas
All of the 50 Wildlife Management Areas stay open to hunting across the state for all game species. There are six regions to draw hunts in Mississippi such as North West, North East, Delta, East Central, South West and South East regions.
Apart from hunting, these public hunting lands also offer other recreational activities like fishing, wildlife viewing, photography, nature study and many more. Some of the best WMAs of Mississippi are stated below:
- BIENVILLE WMA
- BLACK PRAIRIE WMA
- CALHOUN COUNTY
- CANAL WMA
- CANEMOUNT WMA
3.2 National Forests
Mississippi’s National forests contain over 2,000 acres of lakes, ponds, streams providing suitable habitat for all game species and allowing hunters to participate in various recreational activities along with hunting.
The six National Forests of Bienville, Delta, DeSoto, Holly Springs, Homochitto and Tombigbee are rich in wildlife, natural resources and offers activities from fishing to swimming, boating and much more.
There are also many Recreation Area in the forests such as the Davis Lake Recreation Area in the Tombigbee National Forest, the Turkey Fork Recreation Area in the Chickasawhay district where you can enjoy a weekend of camping, fishing along with hunting.
3.3 National Wildlife Refuges
Hunting in National Wildlife Refuges in Mississippi is however controlled by public demand and a close case study of wildlife inhabiting there.
Apart from hunting, the national wildlife refuge system provides opportunities for photography, wildlife observation, fishing and also to experience scenic beauty.
The Yazoo NWR is the oldest national wildlife refuge which is famous for waterfowl hunting in the fall season.
3.4 U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Lands
The public land owned and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provide ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Before planning a trip, one must license and permit regulations of the area.
3.5 Private Land
In Mississippi, about 80% of the land is privately owned. In order to hunt in these lands, hunters must carry a Mississippi Courtesy Card which allows them legally hunt all game species.
4. License Requirements
Residents or Non-residents of Mississippi, aged between 16 and 64 must purchase a hunting license to legally hunt on both public and private lands. A person who has a permanent residence in Mississippi, college students having a valid college or university ID card in Mississippi and active-duty military personnel are considered as residents.
Youth under the age of 16 and Mississippi residents aged 65 or older do not need to acquire a hunting license. For them, the Youth Exempt License and the reduced-fee Resident Senior Exempt License are available.
The Disability Exempt license are for those who are permanently disabled. The state if Mississippi provides resident license to active-duty military members stationed at Mississippi and also those who are stationed outside.
For migratory waterfowl hunting, all hunters aged 16 or older must get the Mississippi Electronic Waterfowl Stamp and the Federal Duck Stamp while hunting. Hunters must renew their licenses at the completion of one year from its issuance except lifetime hunting licenses.
5. Hunter Education
5.1 Do You Require It
Hunters born after January 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. For children between 12 and 16 years of age must have a certificate of hunter education course for hunting alone.
Though it is not required while they are hunting under the supervision of a licensed adult.
5.2 Classroom Course
The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks department allow hunters of all age to attend the offline classes.
5.3 Online Course
Mississippi residents aged between 12 and above can only avail this course. After the successful completion of the course, one needs to pass the test to get the certificate.
6. Rules And Regulations
6.1 Legal Shooting Hours
Hunters can start hunting animals from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. However, for migratory birds legal shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
6.2 Can You Hunt At Night
You can legally hunt nuisance animals such as raccoon, fox, opossum, beaver, bobcat at night with or without the use of light and also with dogs, except for the spring turkey season.
6.3 Weapon Requirements
For hunting deer, single or double-barreled muzzle-loading rifles of .35 caliber or larger, and replicas of those rifles or shot guns can be used.
The hunting of turkeys during the spring season should be done only with shotguns only with number two, compound, re-curve, cross bow and long bows.
6.4 Hunter Orange Requirements
Hunters, during any firearms season for deer, must wear at least five hundred square inches of solid fluorescent orange garment. This is not applicable to those who are hunting from twelve feet long stand or blind.
However, they must wear it while traveling from and to the stand.
7. Prohibited Practices
- It is illegal to hunt, shoot with a firearm that is unloaded on any street, public road, highway, county, city or railroad.
- No one is allowed to hunt, shoot, seek or pursue the number of any game species exceeding the daily bag limit.
- Hunters are not allowed to take down any non-game animal such as eagle’s, hawks, owls, kites, fish or bird without permission.
- Using any motorized vehicle or boat to hunt any game animal, bird or furbearing animal is prohibited in Mississippi.
- Hunting with dogs is allowed for turkeys during the spring season, deer during archery season and primitive weapons season.
- Hunters are not allowed to use any electronic calling or sound-producing device for hunting any game animal except nuisance animals and crows.
- It is illegal to hunt or trap any wildlife or bird with the help of bait.
Mississippi manages to preserve its rich hunting tradition over the years attracting millions of hunters across the world having the largest white tail deer population in the North American subcontinent.
For more details, you can visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks online website.
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- Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
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- Rules and Regulations
- Official Mississippi Hunter Safety Course Online
Hi, I’m Vineet. Creator of DivinioWorld. I am an outdoor enthusiast and absolutely love researching, learning, and applying skills and knowledge in the real world. I started DivinioWorld to share everything I know so that even a beginner can follow the ropes and master the subtle art of outdoors adventure and survival.