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Hunting debate rages

When you talk to deer hunters you get a lot of mixed feelings about going out of state to hunt. Some hunters make the annuals trips out of state looking for the chance to take a shot at a record buck. Other hunters make the trek out of state simply to enjoy the adventure of hunting in other surroundings and to see other woods. I am one of those weird hunters that just loves the experience of hunting in a new area and meeting new friends. For the record book hunter, you may not need to go out of state when looking for that trophy whitetail.

Mississippi is blessed with over 45 state wildlife management areas and 11 federal wildlife management areas totaling over 828, 000 acres in just state management areas. Each of these areas are managed by biologist that take hard data and hunter information to mandate seasons and harvest rates for hunters, not many hunting clubs I know of have this extensive staff for management of the herd.

Now I know what many of you are thinking as you read this, the pressure on the land is so great that I would never be able to hunt a quality buck for any length of time without intrusion form another hunter. I am not going to say that you would not have this situation happen, but I hear every year from club hunters that have been jinxed by a member or a guest of a member that came to hunt a day or so and wondered into the situation of taking a buck that a member has been hunting for days.

This is a viable point and when hunting on management areas around the state, I have found that the majority of hunters are very cordial and are not going to knowingly encroach on your hunting area. I really feel that 90% of taking a trophy buck is luck and the other 10% is broken up into skill, planning and praying. I love the thought process of one of the hardest hunters in the business, Tret Barta.

Tret will tell you quick that “90% of playing the game is just showing up”. If it is your day to take a trophy buck, you will and if it ain’t, you won’t, but the same moral of fishing is true in hunting also, you can’t catch a fish with your bait in the air, it has to be in the water.

This season alone I know of many deer taken off of management areas with some scoring into the 120’s. Well if you want to plan to put your bait in the water for big bucks on Mississippi public lands there are a few things you can do to stack the odds a little more in your favor. First, instead of hunting the open season, get the brochures form the different areas and see if they offer special “draw” hunts. These draw hunts may include days set aside for a special rifle or muzzleloader season on a “bow only” management area, youth or senior draw hunts for one to three days and some are special bow hunting days. With all of theses different types of draws, the number of hunters on the area each day is limited therefore increasing the odds of you hunting a nice buck alone.

One of the fellows that would agree on the fact that there are monster bucks in Mississippi is Tim Campbell of Poplarville, Ms. This name should sound familiar to big buck enthusiast because Tim took a buck at Mahannah management area during a special gun hunt in November of 2001. The monster 21 point buck would rival the big bruisers of the far north with a massive net score of 1984/8.

The Campbell buck, as it is known, sported main beams of 32 inches and 317/8 inches, measured an inside spread of twenty inches and weighed a whopping 272 pounds. In 2001, when Tim took the buck it was ranked as the #1 scoring buck taken off of public lands and has since fallen only a couple of spots. When I talked to Tim about the odds of him taking another buck that would even come close he said, “I know that there are bigger ones out there and that will keep me hunting , but I really don’t think I will.”

The Campbell buck can be seen as a full life size body mount at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Tim decided that a buck of this magnitude and importance to hunters should be offered to the museum for everyone to enjoy. Tim takes pride in his grandkids being able to say that their grandfather has a record buck mounted in the states museum.

In 2000, my nephew Reed Wallace Jr, better known to us a “Lil Reed”, was 15 years old and  making his last youth gun draw hunt at Yazoo when all the stars aligned and he was able to harvest  a fine 10 point buck that  scored 138 and sported a 19 inch inside spread. The buck weighed in a 270 pounds and is a testament to the management practices set in place on the state and federal management areas.

The stories of trophy bucks from theses areas go on and on, and the lack of pressure  in many of theses areas would surprise you. Call some of the management areas and talk with the managers and staff, load up and take a ride so you can see the terrain and layout of the area. Take  the time to surf the internet and see what is out there in the state, you may be surprised. With in a couple hours drive from anywhere in the state, you could be in big buck territory.

Each one of the management areas will have its own guidelines for taking quality animals, and it is suited specifically for that area. Ignorance of the regulations is not an excuse. It is up to you as the hunter to know and follow all rules and regulations when on one of these areas. For more information on the management areas in the state, to order a topographic map or to check out the Magnolia Bucks Record Book just go online to www.mdwfp.com or call 601-432-2400.

I hope you get the chance to check out all of the hunting options that this great state affords us, and as always, get outdoors and enjoy what God has given us.