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ESPN Outdoors 2005-2006 Whitetail Forecast

Editor's note: While no changes have been noted as of yet, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastating effects on Mississippi, hunters planning a trip to the Magnolia State would be wise to check the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Web site or to call (601) 432-2400 for the latest information.

Season dates:

  • Deer Management Zone 1: Archery - Oct. 1-Nov. 18 (either sex); and Jan. 19-Jan. 31 (either sex on private and open public lands). Primitive weapon: Dec. 2-15 (either sex); and Jan. 19-31 (private lands only, either sex). Youth gun: Nov. 12-18 (either sex; on private lands only, youth 15 and under). Gun (with dogs): Nov. 19-Dec. 1 (either sex on private lands only; legal bucks only on open public land); and Dec. 24-Jan. 18 (either sex on private lands only; legal bucks only on open public land). Gun (without dogs): Dec. 16-23 (either sex on private lands only; legal bucks only on open public land); and Dec. 17-18 (either sex on open public ground).

  • Deer Management Zone 2: Archery: Oct. 15-31 (legal bucks only); and Nov. 1-18 (either sex). Primitive weapon: Dec. 2-15 (either sex); Jan. 19-31 (either sex); and Feb. 1-15 (legal bucks only). Youth gun: Nov. 12-18 (Either sex; on private lands only, youth 15 and under). Gun (with dogs): Nov. 19-Dec. 1 (Either sex on private lands only; legal bucks only on open public land); and Dec. 24-Jan. 18 (legal bucks only). Gun (without dogs): Dec. 16-23 (Either sex on private lands only; legal bucks only on open public land); and Dec. 17-18 (either sex on open public ground).

Resident license fees: All game hunting and fishing, $17; Archery/Primitive Weapon, $14; General crossbow, $10; Wildlife Management Area User Permit, $15; Sportsman's (includes archery/primitive), $32; Lifetime sportsman (age 13 and over), $1,000; Lifetime sportsman (age 12 and under), $500; Nonresident Mississippi Native Lifetime, $1,500.

Nonresident license fees: Armed forces 14-day hunting/fishing, $32; all game hunting, $300; seven-day all game hunting, $125; Archery/Primitive, $75; Three-day all game hunting with archery/primitive, $125; General crossbow, $20; Youth all game hunting, $110; Youth seven-day all game hunting, $60; Wildlife Management Area User Permit, $30; Deer permit, $5.

Bag limit: See below.

  • Deer Management Zone 1: The bag limit on antlered buck deer is one (1) buck per day, not to exceed three (3) per license year. See below for description of legal bucks. On private lands, a person less than sixteen (16) years old may harvest one (1) deer with any hardened antler per license year. Legal bucks for Deer Management Zone 1: only antlered buck deer with antlers of four (4) points or greater may be taken. An antler point is defined as any antler protrusion that would hold any size ring. Antlerless Deer: The bag limit on antlerless deer is one (1) per day, not to exceed three (3) per license year; except that two (2) additional antlerless deer per license year may be taken with a bow and arrow.

  • Deer Management Zone 2: The bag limit on antlered buck deer is one (1) buck per day, not to exceed three (3) per license year. See below for description of legal bucks. On private lands, a person less than sixteen (16) years old may harvest one (1) deer with any hardened antler per license year. Legal bucks for Deer Management Zone 2: only antlered buck deer with antlers of four (4) points or greater AND either a minimum inside spread of ten (10) inches OR a minimum main beam length of thirteen (13) inches may be taken. An antler point is defined as any antler protrusion that would hold any size ring. Antlerless Deer: The bag limit on antlerless deer is one (1) per day, not to exceed three (3) per license year; except that two (2) additional antlerless deer per license year may be taken with a bow and arrow.

    Hunter/bowhunter education required? All persons born on or after January 1, 1972, must satisfactorily complete a hunter safety education course approved by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks before purchasing a Mississippi hunting license. Effective July 1, 2000, anyone twelve (12) years of age and under sixteen (16) years of age must have a certificate of satisfactory completion of a hunter education course approved by the department before hunting in this state. Anyone under the age of twelve (12) must be in the presence and under the direct supervision of a licensed or exempt hunter at least twenty-one (21) years of age when the child is hunting.

    Population for 2005: No answer given this year, but previous information supplied to the ESPNOutdoors.com Deer Forecast has placed the state's deer population at 1.5 to 1.75 million whitetails, and slowly increasing.

    Season forecast: While no response has been received from Mississippi wildlife officials, that is certainly understandable in light of recent weather events.

    While the state's deer herd ranks as one of the nation's best, there would seem to be obvious questions in the southern part of the state that was ravaged by catastrophic Hurricane Katrina at the end of August.

    To that end, while there is no response as of yet from William T. McKinley, a biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, it would seem that another good year of whitetail hunting is on tap for at least central and northern Mississippi.

    With strong numbers and a herd that is in relatively good shape with no recent widespread disease problems, our bet here is that the further north one goes in Mississippi this fall, the better the deer hunting will be..

    2004 harvest: 352,159 (Editor's note: All harvest data is from the 2002-2003 season.)

    Bow harvest: 52,738 (2002 data).

    Muzzleloader harvest: 53,665 (2002 data).

    Firearm harvest: 245,757 (2002 data).

    Number of licensed deer hunters: 170,690 (2002 data).

    Deer hunter success rates: 75.7 percent (2002 data).

    Number of bowhunters: 58,293 (2002 data).

    Bowhunter success rates: 52.6 percent (2002 data).

    Number of muzzleloader hunters: 71,821 (2002 data).

    Muzzleloader success rates: 53.2 percent (2002 data).

    Number of firearm hunters: 162,242 (2002 data).

    Firearm success rates: 72.1 percent (2002 data).

    Top counties/regions: No answer was given this year, but previous ESPNOutdoors.com Whitetail Deer Forecasts have listed the western portion of the state along the Mississippi Delta and adjoining hills as top areas for hunters to consider.

    Top public-hunting spots: Again, no answer was given this year, but previous ESPNOutdoors.com Whitetail Deer Forecasts have listed all of the public land (state Wildlife Management Areas and National Wildlife Refuge lands) found within the above described western portion of the state.

    Testing conducted for chronic wasting disease: Yes, approximately 1,500 animals were tested in 2003/2004.

    Units/areas that tested positive for chronic wasting disease: None.

    State record typical: 182 7/8 inches, taken by Glen Jourdan in Noxubee County during the 1986/1987 season.

    State record non-typical: 295 6/8 inches, taken by Tony Fulton in Winston County during the 1994/1995 season.

    State record archery typical: 164 7/8 inches, taken by James House in Issaquena County during the 1999/2000 season.

    State record archery non-typical: 236 1/8 inches, taken by Denver Eshee in Webster County during the 1996/1997 season.

    More information: Log onto the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Web site or call (601) 432-2400. To report a poacher, call (800) 237-6278.

    Did you know? During the past 10 years, Mississippi has entered more deer into the Pope & Young Club record book than any other state in the southeast The Magnolia Records Program (MRP) serves as the whitetail deer state records program for the state of Mississippi. The minimum entry scores into the MRP are 125 inches for a typical buck and 155 inches for a non-typical buck There are a total of 2,977 deer in the MRP data base A color photograph of each of the 1,900 plus deer that have been entered into the state program is available for viewing at the "Magnolia Records Program" link A new state record non-typical archery buck was harvested in 2003/2004. The buck scored 236 1/8 inches and replaces the previous record of 204 0/8 inches The Magnolia State has 821,485 acres of land within the state's 42 Wildlife Management Areas There have been at least 56 Boone & Crockett Club caliber bucks harvested by Mississippi hunters since 1951 Mississippi's first archery season was in 1951-52. That season was for bucks only According to the MDWFP Web site, all deer hunters must wear, in full view, a minimum of 500 square inches of solid unbroken continuous daylight fluorescent hunter orange material during open gun seasons on deer The agency's Web site indicates that dried deer antlers are composed of approximately 45 percent protein, 22 percent calcium, 11 percent phosphorus, and one percent fat. The remainder is comprised of trace amounts of other minerals and carbon Mississippi boasts over 800,000 acres of prime game habitat for public hunting in 38 Wildlife Management Areas The Web site indicates that Mississippi State Parks in southern Mississippi also suffered widespread damages during Hurricane Katrina, some to the point that they will remain closed until extensive repairs can be made Many State Parks employees living in those affected parks have also been displaced. In an effort to help assuage the losses experienced by MDWFP employees, their families and damages by Hurricane Katrina, tax deductible monetary donations may be sent to: MWFP Foundation, Hurricane Disaster Relief, P. O. Box 14194, Jackson, MS 39236 For information concerning donations for the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund, call Sharon Miller at (601)-432-2014, or e-mail the Foundation at foundation@mdwfp.state.ms.us.