Mississippi recently had their first ever velvet deer season on September 16-18. There were 285 harvested bucks reported to MDWFP (Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks) over the course of the weekend.
We spoke to three successful hunters on their experiences, strategies, and what they thought of the inaugural hunting event here in Mossy Oak’s home state of Mississippi.
First, we have Mossy Oak’s own Owen Finnan.
Owen Finnan's velvet buck.
In Northeast Mississippi, Owen hunted in the timber on a deer path in between their bedding area and a plot of soybeans. The weather was hot, but he said he saw the most bucks he’s ever seen in Mississippi in the two days he hunted the velvet weekend.
His deer came in on Saturday afternoon chasing off some younger bucks, probably 8-10 bucks total. Owen says they were fighting underneath him—it was an unreal hunt. He waited for his opportunity and took a 24 yard slightly quartering away shot; his arrow went through one lung and the liver.
His buddy was sitting with him during the hunt, and they dragged Owen’s buck out together.
He’d had the deer on camera; in fact, he says the deer he killed was the first buck he’d gotten on camera that summer. It wasn’t his #1 target buck, though, so he’s definitely planning on getting back out there come bow season.
Owen says, “The velvet season was awesome. It was the most bucks I’ve ever seen in Mississippi in one weekend. It’s cool, too, that you turn in the lymph nodes and they do the studies and tests on the deer. And it gives local people a chance to kill a velvet deer without traveling to Tennessee or North Dakota.”
Next, we have Marshall Merchant, team member of Delta Valley Outdoors.
Marshall's velvet buck.
Marshall had been watching his deer and keeping tabs on him for the past three years, ever since he was two. He says the buck really blew up this year and was consistently coming into the white oak trees that were dropping early.
He says he was a little nervous because this deer had shed last year on September 15th, so the velvet season of September 16-18 would be cutting it close to get him in velvet.
Marshall set up on the edge of a creek bottom that the deer walk down and adjusted for a southeastern wind.
His buck came in just like he’d hoped on Friday afternoon. He shot him quartering towards at 24 yards and the deer ran less than 50 yards before he fell.
Of the velvet season, Marshall says, “I’d been wanting to go to Tennessee the past few years for their velvet season, so I was excited when Mississippi got the chance this year. I know they were able to raise money through the permits, too, and the seasons will adjust and get better from here.”
Finally, Steven Farmer also had a successful hunt similar to Owen and Marshall’s.
He hunted over a row of sawtooth that he had planted 10 years ago, and he says most of the trees were dropping.
His buck was a non-typical that he hadn’t had on his cameras in previous years. He figures he moved in for the summer from somewhere up or down river.
He hadn’t had him on camera for ten days or so before the season, so he wasn’t sure if he could expect to see the buck or not. But just like reading a script, the buck came in ten minutes before legal shooting light was over.
Steven shot his buck at 22 yards, and the deer ran about 45 yards.
On the season, Steven says, “It’s a great opportunity for every bow hunter out there It just gives you one more chance of beating the crowd out there. The guys that will go out there and brave the elements and pursue the deer deserve the opportunity. You get the home advantage of killing a quality buck without the deer having already felt pressure on them.”
Though next year the season might be pushed earlier—it’s a fine line between having the antlers fully developed yet still in velvet—most hunters agree that this year’s season was successful. One thing they can all agree on is that their Thermacell is a life saver for any velvet season hunting.