For many years, I bowhunted public land in Mississippi without harvesting a thing because only legal-racked bucks were allowed to be taken by non-resident hunters.
I’ve lost track the number of times I had non-legal does and small bucks in range, but those big bucks always eluded me. Still, I kept going year after year several times each season, mixed in with my Louisiana public lands hunts.
Finally, a couple years back they changed the rules allowing non-residents to harvest does as well. That first year I finally got some Mississippi deer, but I was fortunate to finally harvest mostly racked bucks that season. But I harvested one doe I shot using my wife’s bow.
Last year, I didn’t have any luck with the bucks in Mississippi. I saw nice deer while bowhunting, but never got any shot opportunities. However, I was really fortunate to score my limit of five public lands does in Mississippi through the various places I hunt there. Since I eat deer meat almost daily all year long, I was thankful to have been able to fill my freezer.
Only three deer can be taken from the national forest lands, but on private, state WMAs and NWRs, a hunter can take five per season.
After an entire month-and-a-half of unsuccessful hunts, the stars lined up last November and I stuck a doe with my recurve bow after a great ground-stalk hunt. There was one exciting spot where I hooked around and cut off a herd of does. Finally, one gave me a close shot after a near 20-second hold of my drawn recurve on video.
Getting a tough traditional harvest from the ground had been a goal of mine for quite some time. The footage from all five harvests can be found here.
On another stalk with my compound bow, I lined up a great shot on a doe. However, when I went to release the arrow my bow limbs went further toward the deer than the actual arrow. Something went wrong and the bow exploded!
I’m glad I wasn’t injured, but it gave me a reason to test out a bunch of my older weapons while it took months to get fixed.
During the short primitive season, I went stalk-hunting with my .444 Marlin one evening. Again I spotted a doe and hooked around, setting up on a knee using my Harris fold-out bipod. She walked right into one of the thick gaps in the cocklebur patches, and the 60-yard shot rang true.
Another week, after practicing with my old crossbow, I scouted some new pieces of public land for the first time. Sure enough, I came across a bunch of does and used my trigger stick monopod to make a perfect lengthy shot on one of the deer. It was great watching that lighted nock sail right into the vitals.
However, something devoured all the guts of that deer during the night while I gave it time to expire. Fortunately, all the meat was still left intact for me to eat.
Later in the season, I took my old Mathews Feathermax compound bow. I practiced with it all week and was ready. Once again, no bucks showed in my hunts with it, but amazingly one evening does came swimming right to me. I had never seen deer swimming before, and they happened to make a 90-degree turn headed right to me. Then, when they got on the bank, they turned broadside at 40 yards. Another successful hunt ended with a nice doe.
I had been sporadically taking my longbow with me, but I finally ended my season with great footage of my warbow striking down a big doe in Mississippi. That article can be found here.
Though most of my hunts are done embracing the ultimate challenge of using traditional gear on public land, last season was a blast using all of my old weapons and focusing on stalk hunting.
With the option of taking either sex in Mississippi, my hunts are now much more enjoyable with a higher chance of bringing home venison.