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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's mid Dec. Most of us have probably spent time in the woods. So what's the outlook? Seeing lots of deer? Putting deer on the ground and in the freezer?

For me it's a tale of two cities, so to speak. According to area processors, it's a banner year. The two biggest processors have stopped taking in deer twice since rifle season opened. Yet on the public land where I hunt I've never seen a slower year. I've gone FIVE afternoons in a row and haven't seen ONE deer. No does, fawns, spikes, nada. Sign has never been lighter, and I'm not seeing ANY scrapes.

But I AM seeing more HUNTERS than ever before. As a result of COVID there was a huge surge in new hunter participation, and these new hunters would not have had the opportunity to join a club before deer season. Therefore all these newbies are taking to the public lands, and I'm seeing things this year I've never seen before: permanents stands, pop up blinds, 4 wheelers all over the place, 4 wheeler trails where they have no business, boot tracks where I've never seen one before. The public lands I hunt are under seige, and the effects on hunting couldn't be more clear or immediate. And it's not just me. I've made friends with several guys who hunt these areas, and everyone is saying the same thing.

Last week on the way in I heard someone shoot about 200 yards ahead of me. (because of where he parked I had no idea he was in these woods - but that's a rant for another time). When I got up to the area the guy was waiting on his buddy to arrive to help. He immediately tried to divert my attention and pretend his deer had run away and they were going to track him. I looked around and saw a white belly about 50 yards away. "There's your deer, man." He tried to act surprised. "Oh, wow...thanks dude!" Turns out it was a 1.5 yr old spike with one side broken off half-way and he thought he'd killed an illegal deer. I asked him if it was his first of the season (honestly I think it was the first of his life), and he said yes. I told him, "it's ok...the law is on your side this year."

That's the kind of hunter running all over public lands right now.
 

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You didn't see any deer hunting 5 times in a row, and the state still thinks we're helplessly overrun with does to the point of having a special nearly two week doe-only "primitive" not actually primitive firearm season. It's amazing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If it was the first of the man's life, I would have been slapping him on the back. Thats good stuff
I have no idea if it was his first or not. I was being facetious based on how he and his buddy acted. But I agree with your point. I was very respectful and told him "congratulations." I reassured him he'd done nothing wrong and he should be proud of his harvest, not try to mislead me. My point is that he went into the woods not knowing the laws, which supports my other point that many of these hunters are brand new and they are making hunting a little more challenging this year. Nothing *wrong* with it, and I'm all for increased hunter participation. But for those of us who've hunted these areas for decades it's a brand new experience dealing with such widespread *lack* of experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You didn't see any deer hunting 5 times in a row, and the state still thinks we're helplessly overrun with does to the point of having a special nearly two week doe-only "primitive" not actually primitive firearm season. It's amazing.
This topic - as sensitive and explosive as it is - deserves its own thread, if not its own forum. No issue burns more brightly for me than the relationship between doe limits/harvest and overall deer numbers.

For years I've maintained that doe harvest is not nearly as important as many people insist. **YES, by all means I recognize that killing does is a critical factor in deer population**. However, I truly believe its impact is often over-emphasized. And, ironically, my - and several others' - experience this season unequivocally supports that perspective. How?

Because we are now in the FOURTH year of a DRASTIC cut to doe harvest, yet there is NO imperical evidence that deer numbers have increased at all! IIRC, for two years doe harvest was totally banned on public land, except for archery in some places. For 2019-20 and this season it's a ban on doe harvest except for 2 weeks in Dec. This is a MASSIVE reduction compared to previous years. If the "doe slaughter" theory were as critically important as many believe, then populations in these areas should have experienced a noticeable increase. A drastic, multi-year change to harvest limits is a very significant change, especially regarding an animal with the reproductive potential of the whitetail deer. One can find charts all over the place that illustrate how quickly deer can multiply, and while they may very considerably, all of them support the basic idea that not killing does results in a meaningful increase in population. But that doesn't seem to be happening.

I do not have the means to quantify deer numbers. But like most of you I now my hunting areas very, very well, and it's not difficult to develop a general sense of where the deer population is. If there's a signficant change we know it, right? Whether it be sign like tracks, droppings, rubs and scrapes, trail cam pics, sightings, harvest reports, anecdotes from other hunters, road kill, road crossings, etc...we JUST KNOW the general state of things.

I can't say deer numbers are down. What I CAN say is after several years of a meaningful reduction to doe harvest, I see no evidence that deer numbers have increased. What that means...I have no idea. But it sure is interesting...and more than a little bit frustrating! lol
 

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Last season we made the decision not to shoot very many does because of the low numbers I was seeing on cams...we only shot 1.

This year after running cams since July we made the decision not to shoot any does. The numbers, according to my research, were not there. What does I did have were the same ones.
On the flip side I had a lot of bucks. Behind my house I had 7-9 different bucks showing up, from spikes to 10 points. I shot a 4 year old 8 point and there were 6 other bucks in the field when I let the arrow go.

Since gun season opened deer movement has been abismal. Very few deer have been seen on stand and deer that I saw quite a bit during bow season show up once in a blue moon. I understand when gun season opens deer will change patterns but it has never been this bad. But we have also had more people hunting around us and possibly could have pushed the deer further out. I had a blast during bow season, but so far the rest has been one to forget. We just don’t have the deer numbers in our area, especially does, no matter what the state says.
 

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I have seen deer every time I have been in the woods. Killed 2 does so far. Saw a decent buck the other day . Starting to see a little sign as far as hookings. Haven't seen any scrapes yet. And I only hunt public land.
 

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Haven’t squeezed the trigger yet. Seen some good deer and have seen a bunch of deer on a private spot.

Public opening weekend if it was brown it was down and the orange vest mafia had shown up in force. 4 wheelers everywhere, hangons, blinds u name it have popped up since. Guys walking all over others and on and on. Never have seen so many hunters.

But deer sightings are way down. It’s amazing u see a deer on some public areas as the population just can’t keep up with the slaughter. And a lot of clubs I’ve hunted this year the same. Some people can’t self regulate and have a mentality that since the law said they can kill 5 or whatever it is they have that right. And I guess they do. Then they complain that they don’t see deer. I don’t get it. We don’t shoot does on 2 places because of the population. Every year we had a few. Few bucks too.
 

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In Pearl River County I got in a new club this year. 6,000 acres. I planted 2 food plots and put out 4 feeders in October. In 2 months I have a picture of a doe and fawn at one feeder. I have 2 food plots with not even a deer track in it. No deer pics on the plots since I planted it. I have a small plot behind my house that a few years ago I could see deer pretty regularly. I haven’t got a pic of a deer on it in 6 months. It sucks to love deer hunting as much as I do and live in the butt crack of America for deer hunting. I don’t see it getting better anytime soon.
 

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Makes me feel bad about complaining about things here TJC. Hard to fathom it being that bad anywhere in our state!!
 

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My situation has flipped 180 degrees from last year. Last year, I was seeing nothing in the Big Black basin...and was passing deer on my properties in Newton and Neshoba counties.

This year I'm seeing more deer than I can remember in a long time on the Big Black....and have yet to see a single deer on either the Newton or Neshoba properties the entire season.

I've probably made 20 hunts on the local properties so if there is a word worse than 'bad', I would use it to describe those.
 

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I’m not seeing nearly as many deer as in years past but am seeing deer nearly every sit. Most deer seen in the evenings are right at last legal time. Not seeing the bucks at all. Pre rut should start within the next few days. I will be on stand as much as possible.
 

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Jake are or were you around acorns earlier in the year? Durning bow season down here I seen over 20 deer when the white oaks had just started dropping durning a mid day sit on a full moon. This was on public kinda deep where I doubt anyone had bow hunted yet.


Right now on the lease this one particular stand I’m seeing an average of 10 deer a hunt. It’s in a clearcut that hasn’t been sprayed yet and the deer are hammering the plot along with native vegetation.

We are seeing WAY more deer this year on high pressure days after a front passes through. Now with that being said I’m not seeing any racked bucks. The other evening after a cold front came through I seen 17 different deer and only 3 weren’t antlerless.

I have no evidence to back this up but we (wife and I) are having more “shooter” bucks on camera and just deer in general on camera and seeing more deer this year while hunting than we ever have.

Lol, instead of me heading north for a hunt maybe you should head this way for a hunt with me! haha Good luck the rest of the season, it’s just about to get good everywhere.........I hope!
 

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I'm not seeing nearly as many deer as in years past but am seeing deer nearly every sit. Most deer seen in the evenings are right at last legal time. Not seeing the bucks at all. Pre rut should start within the next few days. I will be on stand as much as possible.
Update: Hunted most all day. Saw twelve total deer of which one was a long beamed six point and two eight points. One of the eight points was after legal shooting time and might be a shooter.
 

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I plant 7 food plots ever year, on my land behind my house I have 1 acre food plot with 3 acres of standing corn I usually can go there and see 6-12 deer ever day, I have only seen 1 deer there all year. It’s been the slowest and least deer sightings I can remember . I have not killed a deer yet. I have another property with all hardwoods and same there. My neighbors are killing plenty in one location but they bait . On public I have seen less than 5 deer since October 1st. Something’s gotta change soon our population isn’t near what the state claims hasn’t been in my area in 10 years .
 

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This topic - as sensitive and explosive as it is - deserves its own thread, if not its own forum. No issue burns more brightly for me than the relationship between doe limits/harvest and overall deer numbers.

For years I've maintained that doe harvest is not nearly as important as many people insist. **YES, by all means I recognize that killing does is a critical factor in deer population**. However, I truly believe its impact is often over-emphasized. And, ironically, my - and several others' - experience this season unequivocally supports that perspective. How?

Because we are now in the FOURTH year of a DRASTIC cut to doe harvest, yet there is NO imperical evidence that deer numbers have increased at all! IIRC, for two years doe harvest was totally banned on public land, except for archery in some places. For 2019-20 and this season it's a ban on doe harvest except for 2 weeks in Dec. This is a MASSIVE reduction compared to previous years. If the "doe slaughter" theory were as critically important as many believe, then populations in these areas should have experienced a noticeable increase. A drastic, multi-year change to harvest limits is a very significant change, especially regarding an animal with the reproductive potential of the whitetail deer. One can find charts all over the place that illustrate how quickly deer can multiply, and while they may very considerably, all of them support the basic idea that not killing does results in a meaningful increase in population. But that doesn't seem to be happening.

I do not have the means to quantify deer numbers. But like most of you I now my hunting areas very, very well, and it's not difficult to develop a general sense of where the deer population is. If there's a signficant change we know it, right? Whether it be sign like tracks, droppings, rubs and scrapes, trail cam pics, sightings, harvest reports, anecdotes from other hunters, road kill, road crossings, etc...we JUST KNOW the general state of things.

I can't say deer numbers are down. What I CAN say is after several years of a meaningful reduction to doe harvest, I see no evidence that deer numbers have increased. What that means...I have no idea. But it sure is interesting...and more than a little bit frustrating! lol
I think there is more to this phenomenon than just science. If does continually get hammered coming in to food plots the survivors are sure to adjust over time and stop coming in during daylight. This has happened everywhere i hunt over the past 4-5 years. However, thinking that by just stopping shooting does for a year or 3 the population will soon rebound is not coming to fruition where I am in N Miss. I think once you get the population below a certain point and then add coyote predation of fawns on a much smaller herd than we previously had most places may never get back to the numbers of deer we had 10 years ago. Just my opinion. I think shortening the season would help.
 

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Younger bucks are starting to get frisky and harassing does and fawns around me. Watched 2 spikes spar then go back to feeding only to spar again about every 3-5 minutes till they walked off together. Reminded me of my 2 boys, playing one minute then fighting the next and so on. ha
 

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I do believe the limited doe harvest on public is working. You can see the buck harvest has gone up slowly and the doe harvest is way way down each year since it’s been antlerless during just archery and primitive weapon on WMA’s. No records of harvest on National Forest so no one knows what’s happening there. I wish it was more limited on private too because most people aren’t smart enough to quit pulling the trigger when they need to. You can’t have more bucks without more does until you reach a point of overpopulation, we are nowhere close to that point in most areas.
 

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Younger bucks are starting to get frisky and harassing does and fawns around me. Watched 2 spikes spar then go back to feeding only to spar again about every 3-5 minutes till they walked off together. Reminded me of my 2 boys, playing one minute then fighting the next and so on. ha
It's about to be on Rancher!!! I ALWAYS get daytime buck pics on the 19th!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
IMO where I hunt it's all about hunting pressure right now. People around me that hunt private land are having good seasons. Like I said, the two big processors quit taking in deer twice already.

But on public land up here things are different, and I believe it's directly related to the increase in hunting pressure. It's not secret that 2020 was a banner year for firearms and ammo sales. The shortage we see now is every bit as bad as 2012-13, and it's not politically motivated. It's motivated by fear and uncertainly resulting from COVID. I've read that there were more first-time gun buyers in 2020 than over the past 10 years combined. Many of those are also first time hunters. They don't have deer leases, so they hunt where they can: Public land. I've never seen so many hunters in the woods, and it seems like every one of them owns a 4 wheeler, and they honestly believe there's no other way to get in and out of the woods. They drive those darn things over and to places even when walking would be quicker and easier! I'm seeing tracks in places I'd never imagined.

Regardless of deer populations being up or down (and I don't believe they are up, even with the reduction in harvest), the deer are reacting to the increased pressure. They are moving much less during the day and they are finding little pockets where hunters aren't harassing them.

It's Dec 16 and I don't have a deer on the ground. Not only that, but I haven't seen enough to give me much confidence so my enthusiasm is waning a bit. I'm doing all the self-motivation I can to get my butt in gear, but so far it's not working, lol.
 
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