Mississippi Hunting Opportunities
Mississippi provides a range of game animals for hunters to pursue. From rolling hills to swampy deltas, the variety of habitat in the state is home to a diverse mix of game including whitetail deer, alligators and many different species of waterfowl. While a significant portion of the land in the state is privately owned, the state also has an abundance of land open to the public for hunting including Wildlife Management Areas, National Forests and Army Corps of Engineers Land. For those looking for a full service hunt, outfitters in Mississippi offer a full selection of guided and non-guided hunts. Many private hunting clubs also offer hunters the opportunity to gain access to the private land that the club has under lease.
The primary game animal hunted in Mississippi is the whitetail deer. The farmland, forests and rivers of the state provide a lot of habitat for deer to thrive. In fact, Mississippi is home to about 1.8 million deer. This large population is well distributed, providing good hunting opportunities throughout the state. The State of Mississippi has an active deer biology program that works to keep the deer population healthy and helps to manage the herd to produce large bucks. While Mississippi may not lead the nation in trophy buck potential, there are trophy deer in the state. In fact, Mississippi hunters will generally bag a handful of deer each year that will qualify for the Boone and Crockett record book.
Hunters in Mississippi can take up to three antlered deer and five antlerless deer per year. Special seasons are held for gun hunting, archery hunting and primitive weapons. Mississippi has two features to its deer hunting seasons that are not common across the United States: the state allows the use of crossbows during archery season and the state has a special gun season for hunting with dogs. Hunting with dogs is particularly popular in the swamps and thick brush along rivers in the delta area of the state.
In addition to deer, Mississippi is home to a thriving wild turkey population. In fact, hunters can take up to five turkeys in the state. This includes three gobblers during the spring season and two turkeys of either sex during the fall season. To be taken legally, a gobbler must have a beard of at least six inches. Small game hunting options in the state include squirrels, rabbits and quail. Quail hunting is a southern tradition and a popular recreational activity for groups of hunters.Waterfowl hunting in Mississippi varies from year to year between good and excellent. The productivity of the hunting is largely dependent on the weather in the Midwest. When the Midwest has mild winters, some of the ducks and other waterfowl will stop and spend the winter in states north of Mississippi. This means that fewer birds will reach Mississippi. But when the Midwest has a cold winter, the waterfowl will continue moving south into Mississippi and provide large numbers of birds for hunter. Guide services are available to waterfowl hunters throughout the state. Guides are especially important during the years when bird numbers are down, as an experienced guide will be able to help hunters to find areas that have birds in huntable numbers.
Waterfowl season varies from one year to the next depending on the expected date of arrival of the birds. The dates are set by the state with-in federal regulations. Early migratory bird season (doves, teal, rails, etc.) generally starts about September, while late migratory bird season (ducks, geese, etc.) generally begins in November. Bag limits for each species of bird also varies from one year to the next.
Mississippi offers hunters the opportunity to hunt some animals not commonly encountered in other areas of the United States. For example, hunters looking for a unique experience can submit an application to the State of Mississippi for an alligator permit. The state awards the permits to applicants through a lottery type system. The hunting of wild hogs is also popular in the state. Though Mississippi no longer has an open bear season, black bear numbers are increasing in the state and sightings are possible. The state requests that hunters report sightings to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. As the population of bears increases, the reopening of a hunting season becomes more likely.