If hunting in the State of Mississippi was a restaurant and offered a menu, the three signature dishes would no doubt be whitetail deer, migratory waterfowl and Eastern wild turkeys. Oh sure, there would be plenty of “side dishes” like feral hogs, rabbits, squirrels, mourning doves and bobwhite quail.
The state’s generous hunting seasons and bag limits, along with substantial conservation efforts, provide numerous ways for hunters to feed their hunting appetite, too. Mississippi offers over 1,000 square miles of public hunting lands in 53 wildlife management areas, along with nine national wildlife refuges. In addition to the state’s public lands, there are numerous private lands and commercial outfitters offering outdoorsmen quality time and harvests in the woods and waters of the state.
Mississippi Public Land Hunting
Mississippi’s hunting lands stretch from the forests of the northern part of the state and skirt the mighty Mississippi River alluvial plain all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Public and private hunting areas are available all along the expanse.
Wildlife Management Areas run by the state are by far the prime public hunting spots. They run the gamut from huge — like the 58,000 acre Sunflower WMA east of Rolling Fork — to smaller spots like the 900 acre Trim Cane WMA near Starkville. All told, there are 13 other management areas that are more than 20,000 acres in size and eight more over 10,000 acres as well. They offer a variety of habitat from swampy, to river bottoms to piney woods and hardwood forests.
Mississippi Big Game Hunting
The Mississippi River Delta is home to some of the largest bucks ever taken in the Magnolia State. The state’s prime areas in this region are mostly taken up in private leases and clubs, but there are guide trips available in some of these areas and private lands that hold big bucks.
However, deer hunting is good all across the state. The MDWFP White-tailed Deer Program estimates the state’s deer population to be 1.75 million, with hunters harvesting approximately 280,000 deer annually. The state’s White-tailed Deer Program’s provides a quality white-tailed deer population and offers maximum outdoor recreational opportunity to the public. The Deer Management Assistance Program(DMAP) is a comprehensive deer management program, consisting of data collection and cooperator education which helps better land management and builds a healthy deer herd. Annually, there are 600+ DMAP cooperators covering over 2.5 million acres in Mississippi.
When it comes to big bucks on private lands, five areas that hunters should try include the Sunflower WMA, The Bienville WMA, the Leaf River WMA, the Copiah WMA, The Sandy Creek WMA and the Mahannah WMA.
Besides being the largest land area, Sunflower also has one of the highest hunter success ratios in the state. The area is known for good harvests of mature bucks as well. It also has a large wetland area which attracts a lot of duck hunters during the same times as deer seasons, a good thing for both groups of hunters to be aware of.
Bienville is a 26,138 acre area located in the Bienville National Forest area north of Morton. At Leaf River located in Perry Country within the Desoto National Forest, there are 40,000 acres of hunting habitat which includes mostly timberland, including hardwood bottoms. Copied is located just south of Jackson and consists of rolling hills, scattered woodland stands and some grassy plains. But the 6,583 acres is also full of good bucks. Another smaller area is the Sandy Creek WMA, with lots of variety from rolling hills to drop-offs into bottomlands that deer love. Sandy Creek is located in the Homochitto National Forest and covers about 16,400 acres.
Hunters will also want to check out available hunts at Upper Sardis, Tallahala, Marion County, Chickasaw, Caney Creek, and O’Keefe WMAs which are also popular with deer hunters.
Hunting for Birds and Waterfowl in Mississippi
Migratory waterfowl is often one of the top species attracting hunters to Mississippi, but success depends largely on three things hunters cannot control — weather, water levels and how many ducks are moving south. When those things line up, though, the state rivals it’s neighboring Arkansas for some fantastic hunting. Most veteran hunters agree that the Greenwood section of the state is one of the best. The proximity to the river and large number of agricultural fields boost that. The most consistent number of ducks is usually found in Tallahatchie County. Malmaison public hunting area, Mathews Brake, O’Keefe National Wildlife Refuge and Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge are top public areas. Some are come and go hunting spots, while others require a permit through a draw system to be able to hunt on them. Two top areas for draw hunts are Howard Miller and Mahannah WMAs. Most of these waterfowl areas don’t permit hunting after noon. Hunters must be up to date on all rules and regulations.
Mississippi also has several great spots for quail and pheasant hunting. Most of these are on commercial hunting operations and can be enjoyed with a simple day trip of overnight trips are one of many lodges in the state.