Mississippi White-tailed Deer Hunting Zones and Legal Bucks

Mississippi's white-tailed deer hunting zones are segmented into various units, each defined by specific geographic markers with different legal buck criteria based on the unit:

Delta Unit

Comprising areas west of Interstate 55 and north of Interstate 20, as well as regions south of I-20 and west of U.S. Highway 61, hunters in the Delta Unit must target bucks with either a minimum inside antler spread of 12 inches or a main beam length of at least 15 inches.

North Central Unit

Encompasses all private and open public lands in Alcorn, Benton, Desoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tippah counties. Within this unit, any buck with hardened antlers is considered legal, providing broader options for hunters.

Southeast Unit

Defined as areas south of U.S. Highway 84 and east of Mississippi Highway 35, the Southeast Unit requires bucks to have an inside spread of at least 10 inches or a main beam length of 13 inches or more.

Hills Unit

This unit includes all areas except those designated as part of the Delta, North Central, and Southeast Deer Management Units. Hunters in the Hills Unit must abide by legal buck specifications requiring a minimum inside spread of 10 inches or a main beam length of no less than 13 inches.

Hunters should ensure they are fully aware of these regulations and always adhere to the legal requirements specific to the unit in which they are hunting. Proper identification of legal bucks helps maintain healthy deer populations and promotes sustainable hunting practices throughout the state of Mississippi.

White-tailed Deer Bag Limits in Mississippi

Mississippi hunters must comply with specific bag limits for both antlered and antlerless white-tailed deer, as these regulations are vital for maintaining the deer population's health and sustainability.

Antlered Buck Deer Limits

  • Statewide: Hunters across the state are permitted to harvest one (1) antlered buck per day, with an overall limit of three (3) per annual season. Among these three, one (1) buck may have hardened antlers that fall short of the unit's legal antler requirements when hunting on private land and within the Holly Springs National Forest.
  • Youth Hunters: Special provisions apply to youth hunters aged 15 and under, who, when hunting on private land and approved state and federal land, can take any three (3) antlered deer as their season limit, with no consideration needed for the antler size or spread.
  • North Central DMU: Within the North Central Deer Management Unit, the limit is one (1) buck per day, expanding to four (4) per annual season. Unlike other units, there are no antler size restrictions in this DMU, allowing for the harvest of any buck with hardened antlers.

Antlerless Deer Limits

  • Private Lands (Statewide): The annual statewide bag limit for antlerless deer on private lands is five (5).
  • North Central DMU (Private Lands): In contrast, the North Central DMU has a heightened limit of ten (10) antlerless deer per hunting season. It is essential to note that antlerless deer encompass both male and female deer without hardened antlers above their natural hairline.
  • Southeast DMU (Private Lands): In the Southeast Unit, hunters are limited to harvesting just two (2) antlerless deer each season.
  • No Daily Bag Limit: For the North Central, Hills, and Delta units, there is no specific daily bag limit for antlerless deer.
  • Southeast DMU Limit: Within the Southeast DMU, only one (1) antlerless deer is allowed per day for each hunter.

U.S. Forest Service National Forests Limits

  • General Limit: The general bag limit in U.S. Forest Service National Forests is one (1) antlerless deer per day, not exceeding five (5) per hunting season.
  • Southeast Unit: A more restrictive limit is placed within the Southeast Unit, where the bag limit is two (2) antlerless deer per season.

Hunters should always ensure that they are carrying the proper licenses and have reviewed the latest hunting regulations before engaging in deer hunting in Mississippi. These measures are enforced to promote ethical hunting practices and responsible wildlife management.

Mississippi Youth, Archery, Primitive Weapons, and Gun Hunting Guidelines

Mississippi hunters are equipped with a variety of choices regarding the types of firearms and archery equipment they can use during various hunting seasons, each with its own set of guidelines.

Youth Gun Regulations

Youth hunters are permitted to carry and utilize any firearm as long as they can handle it safely and comply with additional laws, rules, and regulations governing hunting.

Archery Equipment Rules

Archery hunters have the freedom to choose from longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows without any restrictions on draw weight or minimum arrow length. Both fixed and mechanical broadheads are authorized for use.

Primitive Weapons Season Regulations

During the Primitive Weapons season, hunters may use all archery equipment as well as the following primitive firearms:

  • Muzzleloading rifles (single or double-barreled) of .38 caliber or greater.
  • Breech-loading, metallic cartridge rifles of .35 caliber or more, including reproductions with an exposed hammer.
  • Muzzleloading shotguns (single or double-barreled) that use a single ball or slug.

Such firearms must be loaded with black powder or a designated black powder substitute using percussion caps, #209 shotgun primers, or flintlock ignition systems. Modern smokeless powder is admissible only in metallic cartridges. Additionally, telescopic sights are permissible on all primitive firearms throughout the season.

Post-November 30th Primitive Weapons Season

After November 30th, hunters on private lands can employ any legal weapon of their choice, including pre-charged pneumatic weapons like air guns or air bows, contingent upon them being the landowner, lessee, hunting club member, or a guest thereof. Possession of a valid primitive weapon license, Sportsman’s License, or Lifetime Sportsman's License is necessary if required.

Gun Season Regulations

There are no limitations on caliber size or magazine capacity for firearms used during gun seasons. Primitive weapons, as previously outlined, along with archery equipment, are also allowed during these periods.

Whether hunting with youth, using archery equipment, participating in Primitive Weapons season, or during general gun seasons, Mississippi hunters must adhere strictly to the rules. These laws are in place to ensure not only the safety of the hunter but also the appropriate preservation and ethical harvesting of wildlife.

Estimating Legal Buck Size in Mississippi Deer Management Units

Mississippi establishes specific criteria to define what constitutes a legal buck based on antler measurements. These criteria assist hunters in making quick field judgments to ensure they comply with state game regulations.

General Legal Buck Identification

Within the standard Deer Management Units (excluding the Delta Unit), a buck can be considered legal if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • Minimum Inside Spread: The inside antler spread must be at least 10 inches wide.
  • Minimum Main Beam Length: One main beam should measure at least 13 inches in length.

How to Estimate Inside Spread and Main Beam Length

  • 10-Inch Inside Spread: To gauge whether a buck has at least a 10-inch inside spread, observe its ears when in an alert position. Typically, the ear-tip to ear-tip width is about 14 inches. A buck is likely meeting the 10-inch inside spread criterion if the outside of its antlers is about 1 inch within the ear tips.
  • 13-Inch Main Beam: Assessing the main beam length of 13 inches involves viewing the buck's profile. A main beam that extends to the front edge of the eye from the side is generally estimated to be around 13 inches.

Delta Deer Management Unit Legal Buck Identification

The Delta Unit has slightly different requirements to account for the larger body size of the deer in the region:

  • Minimum Inside Spread: A legal buck must have an inside spread of at least 12 inches.
  • Minimum Main Beam Length: Alternatively, the buck can have one main beam that is at least 15 inches long.

Estimating Delta Unit Buck Size

  • 12-Inch Inside Spread: In the Delta Unit, when a buck's ears are in the alert position, the ear-tip to ear-tip distance is approximately 15 inches. If the antler beams' outer edges reach the ear tips, the inside spread is likely around 12 inches.
  • 15-Inch Main Beam: To estimate a 15-inch main beam in the Delta Unit, look at the buck from the side and see if the main beam tip extends from the front of the eye toward the nose tip; the beam is then approximately 15 inches.

Delta, North Central, and Hills Management Units Deer Hunting Seasons and Legal Deer

Archery Season

  • Sept. 15 - 17: Legal Buck Only on private land with special regulations.
  • Sept. 30 - Nov. 17: Either-Sex on private and open public lands including Holly Springs National Forest (NF).

Youth Season (15 and under)

  • Nov. 4 - Nov. 17: Open to Either-Sex on private and certain public lands.
  • Nov. 18 - Jan. 31: Either-Sex on private land, with youths on public land required to follow specific legal deer criteria.

Primitive Weapons Season

  • Antlerless Primitive Weapon (Nov. 6 - 17): Restricted to Antlerless Deer only on private lands.

Gun Season (With Dogs)

  • Nov. 18 - Dec. 1: Either-Sex on private land and Holly Springs NF; only Legal Bucks on open public land.

Primitive Weapon Season

  • Dec. 2 - 15: Either-Sex is permitted on private and open public lands, as well as Holly Springs NF, with the choice of weapon allowed on private land given proper licensing.

Gun Season (Without Dogs)

  • Dec. 16 - 23: Either-Sex hunting on private land and Holly Springs NF; Legal Bucks only on public land.

Gun Season (With Dogs)

  • Dec. 24 - Jan. 17: Either-Sex on private lands and Holly Spring NF, but Legal Bucks only on open public land.

Archery/Primitive Weapon Season

  • Jan. 18 - 31: Either-Sex on private land, Holly Springs NF; Legal Bucks only on open public land. Weapon of choice is permissible on private land with an appropriate license.

Southeast Unit Deer Hunting Seasons and Legal Deer

Archery Season

  • Sept. 15 - 17: Legal Buck Only on private land with specific requirements.
  • Oct. 14 - Nov. 17: Either-Sex on private and open public land.

Youth Season (15 and under)

  • Nov. 4 - Nov. 17: Either-Sex on private lands and certain public lands is permitted.
  • Nov. 18 - Feb. 15: Either-Sex on private land, with youths on public land adhering to the specific legal deer criteria.

Gun Season (With Dogs)

  • Nov. 18 - Dec. 1: Either-Sex on private land and Legal Bucks only on public land.

Primitive Weapon Season

  • Dec. 2 - 15: Open to Either-Sex on both private and public lands, with the choice of weapon allowed on private land with proper licensing.

Gun Season (Without Dogs)

  • Dec. 16 - 23: Either-Sex on private land with Legal Bucks only on public land.

Gun Season (With Dogs)

  • Dec. 24 - Jan. 17: Either-Sex hunting on private land, Legal Bucks only on public land.

Archery/Primitive Weapon Season

  • Jan. 18 - 31: Open to Either-Sex on private land with Legal Bucks only on public land. Weapon of choice is allowed on private land with the correct license.
  • Feb. 1 - 15: Legal Bucks only on both private and public land, with the choice of weapon permitted on private land with proper licensing.

 

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.