SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The 2013-14 deer season in Mississippi has been a hit or miss from the Coast to the Delta. Despite the up-and-down season to date, hunters are entering the final week with an exception to the Southeast Zone, which includes all three coastal counties.
On a statewide level, the last seven days begins January 24 and closes on January 31.
The season is open to primitive weapons only where legal bucks and does can be harvested. That means no rifles are allowed, and hunters are permitted to harvest one legal buck sporting either a minimum 10-inch inside spread or 13-inch main beam per day and not exceed three in a licensed year.
Hunters can also harvest one doe per day, but can't exceed five in a license year.
However, the primitive weapon season in the Southeast Zone will remain open through February 15 from Moss Point to Bay St. Louis to allow hunters an opportunity to hunt the prime part of the annual rut.
To date Lann Wilf, of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in Jackson, said hunters saw plenty of deer movement across the state in November and early December.
Those sightings slowed down, and part of the problem is the extreme weather temperatures that have produced eight freezes in the first 22 days in South Mississippi alone.
''We had a great first half of the season,'' said Wilf.
''Starting around the 15th of December, the deer went on a lock down and we really can't explain why. I think we had a late acorn drop that took place in late December and hunting came to a grinding halt, and deer were nocturnal. It (hunting) started to pick back up last week as we enter the final week.
''It's not that we are out of deer or we have a disease, but deer are not moving when people are hunting. When people feed, deer do not have to move around to find groceries. I think deer have adjusted to our hunting methods in some areas. The cold weather also weighs into it. Bitter cold like we've had will slow deer movement down. The bitter cold has hurt and sent deer into lock down too.''
Wilf is optimistic that the final week will be productive for hunters, but isn't counting on it.
''When it's bitter cold, does will not move and hunters will not see bucks. People are seeing fewer deer because they feed and ride four-wheelers on a recreational level around food plots. We expected a good season and it was spectacular in the first gun season. The second half has been marginal, and when the season winds down, it's going to be an average year.''