Help!, I’ve fallen and can’t remember my zone!

Published 12:15 am Sunday, August 13, 2006

With the 2006-2007 deer season just around the corner, I want to take the time to explain away some myths and hopefully answer some questions you may have about the upcoming season.

First thing to remember and understand is that we now have two Deer Management Zones in the state for deer seasons. Deer Management Zone One is all areas north of U.S. Hwy 84 plus areas south of U.S. Hwy 84 and west of Mississippi Hwy 35. All land in this zone, National Forests, Corps of Engineers lands, private lands, etc., that have statewide seasons without special regulations, is under the guidelines zone one.

Deer Management Zone Two is all private and open public lands south of U.S. Hwy 84 and east of Ms Hwy 35. This land also includes National Forests, Corps of Engineers lands, private lands, etc., that have statewide seasons without special regulations, is under the guidelines of zone two.

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The regulations for the zones differ a great deal and there are scientific reasons why, along with the season dates being different. Data collected and hunter accounts taken by the department biologists on herd health evaluations in Zone 2, indicated that most of the breeding and rut happened in late January and early February. With this data in hand and a go ahead from the commission, the split deer season was a reality. The split allows for the southern section of the state known as zone two to hunt the true rut into February and no longer will deer hunters have to miss the peak of the season.

The season for Zone 1 this year will begin September 30 and run through November 17th. This will be an archery season and will be an any sex season. The season will culminate with the primitive weapon season in January beginning January 18tha dn running through January 30th.

The season for Zone 2 will begin October 14th through November 17th and will also be an either sex. The 06’-07’ season will culminate in Zone 2 with a primitive weapons season beginning on January 18th and ending on February 15th.

The definition of a legal buck is different for the two zones also. In Zone 1 a legal buck is defined simply as a four point antlered male deer. In Zone 2 the definition is a little more complicated. A legal buck is defined in Zone 2 as any antlered deer with four points or more and the deer must also have either a minimum inside spread of 10 inches or a main beam length of 13 inches. Wondering how a hunter can make this call in the woods?

Here is the secret to measuring a live deer while in your stand. First you need to make sure visibly that the deer has at least four points. If you are in Zone 1 you can then take the shot. If you are in Zone two you must also make the call whether the inside spread is 10 inches or the main beam is 13 inches. To do one of these the buck needs to help you a little.

The ten inches of spread needed can be determined with the deer looking at you with his ears at the alert position. This is not hard because a deer in this part of the country seems to always have hi or her ears in the alert position. With the ears in the alert position, the tips of the ears should be approximately 14 inches. If the outside of each antler is one inch inside the ear tip then you have a 10 inch inside spread.

To make the call on the 13 inch main beam, the deer needs to be broad side of you. With the deer standing broad side, notice where the tips of the main beam are in relation to the eyes. If the tip of the main beams extend to the front of the eyes, then the main beam length is approximately 13 inches. Now realize that you should not get a ticket for a deer with four points and a main beam length of 12? inches, I think you could beat that one.

I know that it can be a little confusing if you hunt the entire state, but just remember that there are two deer zones, three squirrel zones and two doves zones and a partridge in a pear tree, can’t we all just get along? I’m just kidding, this is needed and the dove and squirrel have been this way for years, it is about time that the deer seasons caught up.

If you are planning on hunting the first archery season it is good now to get your plots prepared and depending on your pick of poison, plant now. It is never to early to start working on shooting houses, shooting lanes and plots. A little work now will pay big dividends this season. And remember, hunting over corn is not allowed anywhere in Mississippi legally. Maybe next year, as always get outdoors and enjoy what God has given us.