More Than A Hunt
White tailed buck in the woods of Mississippi
With the population of Mississippi's deer herd rising, MDWFP is calling on hunters to take action to preserve the balance of nature.
We have observed trends in Mississippi’s deer population over the past 50+ years and it is notable that when the harvest percentage goes below 22%, the deer population can become excessive and destructive. Over the last few years, our harvest percentage has decreased to 14%. Harvest percentage is measured in conjunction with the deer population size, which means when harvest percentage goes down, the population size goes up. We are asking hunters to aid in population management by exercising their bag limits and harvesting one more deer this season.
Less than 1% of Mississippi hunters harvest their full bag limit for deer every season. That means on average, a hunter only kills 1.4 deer every year. With less deer being harvested, there are more deer left to reproduce year after year. Overpopulation can lead to issues like starvation and malnutrition which leads to more destructive foraging behavior. Additionally, the hard freeze experienced last winter killed off many of the acorns, which is a main food item for deer in Mississippi specifically. Nutrition plays a huge role in the size and health of deer. Hunters hold a unique role in preserving the balance of nature. By harvesting one more deer this season, you can help contribute to a healthier deer population.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is this a statewide issue?
A: The population of white-tailed deer varies across the state. There are certain regions that are better suited geographically for deer to live in, therefore, some areas have denser population of deer than others. Additionally, deer move! Deer travel many miles crossing property lines and county lines throughout the year. Deer even reside in certain places during the winter and other places in the summer based on food availability and habitat needs. Hence, during certain times of the year, you may see more deer than usual depending on your location.
Q: How do we monitor population numbers?
A: Our biologists evaluate deer population size by obtaining data through statewide surveys, DMAP harvest reporting, WMA harvest reporting, and even collaborations with Mississippi State University researchers. Using the estimated population total, they can utilize population reconstruction models to determine potential growth and density for the state as a whole. Additionally, when harvest percentage (which is also an estimated number since there is not currently mandatory deer harvest reporting) is applied to the population size, our biologists can determine the potential growth for the next generation of deer and the impact they will have on Mississippi's landscape. To get a better idea of our Mississippi deer herd, hunters can utilize game checks to report deer harvest and aid biologists in their research.
Q: What if I already harvest more than my family can eat?
Did you know Mississippi has an organization where hunters can donate their extra game to those in need? Hunter’s Harvest is an incredible organization that provides a dependable source of protein to families who are in need. Many Mississippi residents do not have adequate access to protein in their diets, and venison is not only a great source of protein, but it’s also low in fat. After a hunter donates a deer, the meat will be dispersed statewide to non-profit organizations and churches to help feed those in need. If you harvest more deer than your family can eat, consider donating your extra deer to Hunter's Harvest and feed your fellow Mississippians.
Visit our Deer Program page for more information on White tailed deer in Mississippi and the efforts being made by our biologists to conserve our herd.
Rules & Regulations
- Magnolia Records Program
- First Deer Certificate Entry Form
- Wildlife Management Areas
- WMA Draw Hunts
- Private Lands Program
- Hunter's Harvest