Mississippi Abundant Acorn Crop Contributes to Reduced Deer Sightings in 2011
Mississippi's 2011-2012 deer season has been interesting to say the least. Prior to the season, MDWFP Deer Program Biologists were concerned with meeting hunters' expectations due to an abundant statewide acorn crop. Many hunters understand that deer observations tend to be less during years of heavy acorn production. "This reduction in deer observations is caused by one major factor; if deer have ample access to food, they tend to move much less," said MDWFP Deer Program Biologist, Lann M. Wilf. Wilf continued, "Another factor that likely has reduced deer activity, and subsequently, our overall harvest were the mild weather conditions that we experienced all winter."
This reduction in deer movement during most of the season has resulted in a considerable decrease in hunter success on most properties. One exception was high hunter success during the youth and early primitive weapon seasons. This trend was observed throughout most of the state, and was likely due to a higher preference of recently emerging food plots and limited availability of mast during early fall. However, as acorns began to drop, many hunters reported food plot usage declined as the season progressed. Another exception was the consistent hunter success in landscapes dominated by pine plantations and cutovers, which have limited acorn producing hardwoods. In these instances, hardwoods served as bottlenecks and provided ample opportunities to observe and harvest deer.
High food availability and limited movement allowed many bucks to slip through this season. We expect good things to come in the 2012-2013 season!