Hunting Regulations & Requirements
Landowner permission is required to hunt, fish, or trap on private lands. MDWFP Wildlife Management Areas are subject to special seasons and regulations which may vary from statewide seasons and regulations. Contact the MDWFP or area personnel (see regional offices listed in Wildlife Management Areas) for information about these areas.
License and Hunter Education Requirements
For information on license requirements, license exemptions, and hunter education requirements, see License Information.
Unlawful Purchase of License
Any person who obtains a license under an assumed name or makes a materially false statement to obtain a license is guilty of a felony and shall be subject to a fine of two thousand dollars ($2,000) and/or can be imprisoned for a term of one (1) year.
Legal shooting hours for resident game are one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise to one-half (1/2) hour after sunset. Legal shooting hours for migratory birds are one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise to sunset.
For description of legal bucks, see White-tailed Deer Management Zones. Raccoon, fox, opossum, beaver, nutria, coyotes, and bobcats may be legally hunted at night, with or without the use of a light and with dogs, except during the spring turkey season. Hunters may hunt raccoon with dogs during the spring turkey season with a permit issued from MDWFP. These permits may be obtained online at mdwfp.com.
Landowners, leaseholders, or their designated agents may take nuisance animals year-round on lands owned or leased by them. Beaver, coyotes, nutria, fox, skunk, and wild hogs are classified as nuisance species and can be taken year round by licensed hunters subject to applicable regulations (see MDWFP Rule 7.1).
Weapons and Loads
Legal weapons for hunting from one-half (1/2) hour after sunset to one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise are restricted to handguns or rifles using no larger than .22 standard rimfire cartridges (no .22 magnums) and shotguns with shot no larger than No. 6.
When hunting migratory birds, a shotgun must be “plugged” so that it can hold no more than three (3) shells at one loading.
Legal weapons to hunt spring turkey are restricted to shotguns with no larger than No. 2 shot and compound, recurve, or long bows. However, any quadriplegic may hunt with a rifle. During the fall turkey season, legal weapons include all archery equipment and shotguns with no larger than No. 2 shot.
Decoys and Bait
It is illegal to hunt any wild animal or wild bird with the aid of live decoys or bait. Liquid scents may be used. Electrically operated calling or sound-reproducing devices may be used for hunting crow and nuisance animals. See MDWFP Rule 7.1 for information on baiting of nuisance animals.
Running of dogs during spring turkey season is allowed only by the exceptions designated in MDWFP Rule 5.3. Dogs are not allowed for hunting deer during archery season, primitive weapon seasons, or still hunting season. Application for dog field trials must be made to MDWFP at least 5 working days before the opening of the trial.
Meaning of “Unloaded”
“Unloaded” means that a cartridge or shell is not positioned in the barrel or magazine of the firearm or in a clip, magazine, or retainer attached to the firearm; or in the case of a caplock muzzle-loading firearm,”unloaded” means that the cap has been removed; or in the case of a flintlock muzzle-loading firearm, “unloaded” means that all powder has been removed from the flashpan.
Hunting from Roads, Vehicles, and Boats
It is unlawful to hunt or shoot in, on, or across any street, public road, public highway, railroad, or the rights-of-way.
Rule 1.4 Hunting from a Motorized Vehicle
A. It is unlawful to shoot at any wild animal, or wild bird from a motorized vehicle or motorized conveyance unless the progress from such vehicle or conveyance has completely ceased.
B. It is unlawful to hunt, chase, take, or pursue any wild animal other than squirrels and beaver from a motorboat or other watercraft having a motor, unless the motor has been completely shut off and its progress has ceased.
C. It is unlawful to discharge any firearm from a boat or other watercraft operating on the public waters of this state during night-time hours from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise; except the Commission may set special seasons and regulations for the taking of alligators at night during dates and times set by them.
History: Revised April 2014.
SOURCE: MISS. CODE ANN. §§49-1-29, 49-4-4, AND 49-7-45. Deer may not be taken from a boat at any time.
Animal Control Permits
Animal Control Permits may be issued to scare, harass, and/or kill deer that are destroying crops only after an MDWFP officer has inspected the damage and requested the issuance of such permits. To request an officer to inspect your damage, contact the appropriate regional office. Regional office phone numbers can be found in Wildlife Management Areas.
Killing Deer Out of Season
If a person is convicted of killing any deer out of season, that person may be fined not less than $100 and his license may be revoked for a year by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
It is unlawful to hunt deer at night with the aid of a light, lighting device, or light amplifying device. Headlighting deer is a Class I violation and a conviction is punishable by a minimum $2,000 fine and forfeiture of hunting, trapping, and fishing privileges for one to three years.
Any equipment used to hunt or kill deer at night with a lighting device that is subject to seizure is considered contraband property and will be seized by the enforcement officer. This equipment is subject to forfeiture and may become the property of the State of Mississippi.
A person may be charged with headlighting if that person is caught shining lands on either side of a public road with a firearm in the vehicle. An individual who shines the lands on either side of a public road with no firearm in the vehicle may be charged with harassing wildlife. This provision does not apply to normal use of lights while driving, emergency vehicles, landowners, or agricultural leaseholders searching for livestock or lawfully hunting, trapping, or fishing.
Any game animal, bird, or fish lawfully taken may be possessed at any time.
It is unlawful to throw, dump or otherwise dispose of any dead wildlife, wildlife parts, or waste on roads, rights-of-way of such roads, highways, or upon any private property without the permission of the owner of such property.
Selling of Animals Native to Mississippi
It is unlawful to buy, sell, offer for sale, or exchange for merchandise or other consideration, any game animal, game bird, or game fish (regardless of whether it was taken in or out of Mississippi), except as follows: The skins and sinew of legally taken deer can be bought or sold at any time, products crafted or made from deer bone or antlers not in velvet can be sold, any part of a wild turkey, except the meat, may be bought or sold, and any parts of nuisance animals may be bought or sold. The meat of wild hogs may only be sold upon inspection per regulation of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. The carcasses of raccoons, opossums, and muskrats may be sold for food during the open trapping season, and for 30 days after the close of trapping season. It also is illegal to buy or sell any non-game wildlife native to Mississippi, or any mounted game animals, game birds, or game fish.
Protected Wildlife are species that may not be hunted, molested, bought, or sold. All birds of prey (eagles, hawks, osprey, owls, kites, and vultures) and other native non-game birds are considered Protected Wildlife. Additionally, all species receiving protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act and/or Mississippi’s Endangered Species Act are Protected Wildlife. Some of these species are more likely than others to be encountered by Mississippi hunters in the field: black bear, gopher tortoise, and sawback turtles (black knobbed, ringed, and yellow blotched) are examples. A full list of federal and/or state-endangered species occurring in Mississippi can be found by navigating to http://www.mdwfp.com/seek-study/science-resources.aspx and clicking on “endangered species.”
Migratory Game Birds
Any person 16 years of age and older must have both a federal waterfowl stamp (or temporary proof of electronic purchase) and a state waterfowl stamp (or proof of electronic purchase) in order to hunt migratory waterfowl (ducks and geese). If a physical stamp is in possession, it must be signed by the hunter across the face of the stamp. Exempt landowners and hunters over the age of 65 also must have these stamps when hunting waterfowl. Dove, rail, gallinule, coot, woodcock, crows, and snipe are not classified as waterfowl and may be hunted without such stamps.
All licensed hunters hunting migratory game birds (dove, rail, gallinule, coot, woodcock, snipe, crows, and waterfowl (ducks and geese) must be H.I.P. (Harvest Information Program) certified. H.I.P. certified means taking the Migratory Bird Survey at time of license purchase or separately.
Public waterways are defined in Miss. Code Ann. §51-1-4, and set forth on a map at www.mdeq.ms.gov/water/surface-water/public-waterways/. All citizens of the state of Mississippi and other states, have the right to use the public waterways for free transport, fishing, and water sports. Any person using the public waterways of the state does so at his or her own risk. The use of the public waterways of the state does not entitle any person to trespass upon any lands adjacent to the stream or waterway. No person using the public waterways may harm or disturb the banks or bed of the stream, nor may any person hunt, fish, or go across any adjacent lands under floodwaters outside the natural banks of the waterway. The right of the public to use the public waterways does not include the use of motorized vehicles (ATV’s, trucks, etc.) on the streambed. Exceptions to this prohibition are set forth in Miss. Code Ann. §51-1-4.
Trappers must have permission to trap on any land other than their own. A trapping license is required of anyone 16 years of age or older who traps fur-bearing and nuisance animals on property other than their own. A trapping license is also required of each assistant or helper 16 years of age or older employed or used by a trapper. Trappers are required to have an identification number, which is registered with MDWFP, attached to ALL traps by a metal tag or permanently inscribed, etched, or stamped on the trap. Any trap found without a registered identification number will be in violation and subject to removal by a conservation officer.
It shall be unlawful for any person to disturb the traps of another or to take furbearing/nuisance animals from them unless authorized by the owner. A trapping license is required to sell the pelts and/or skins of nuisance animals and furbearers, and may be sold only during the trapping season and for 30 days thereafter. All traps must be attended at least once every 36-hour period.
No traps may be placed on or set within 100 feet of any street or public road. Except, a municipality or county, or any person who has contracted with a municipality or county, may place or set only snare traps within one hundred (100) feet of any road or street located within such municipality or county. The governing authority of the municipality or the board of supervisors of the county shall make a finding that such placement of snare traps is reasonable and necessary to protect the public safety by removing fur-bearing and nuisance animals that threaten the safety of public roads and bridges. Snares shall be submerged at least fifty percent (50%). Additionally, landowners may trap on their own land within 100 feet of a public road, but not within the maintained road right-of-way.
No body-gripping (conibear-type) traps that exceed 7 inches inside jaw spread may be set on any public lands unless submerged in water.
Licensed trappers may maintain raw fur, green pelts, or dried fur in storage at any time. Anyone transporting raw fur or green pelts from 11 days after the close of trapping season until the day before the opening of trapping season must tag and identify such fur and pelts with the date, county of harvest, and person who trapped them.
It is illegal to trap with the aid of bait, recordings of bird or animal calls, or electrically amplified imitations of calls of any kind. Except, lure is allowed for trapping furbearers, beaver, nutria, coyote, skunk, and fox, provided that no more than two and one-half (2.5) cubic inches of such lure may be placed or located within twenty (20) feet of any trap. The lure amount of 2.5 cubic inches is approximately the volume equivalent of a regulation-sized golfball. All lure within twenty (20) feet of any trap must be covered and not visible from above. However, there are no lure restrictions when used inside live-cage type traps that do not exceed forty-two (42) inches in length, fifteen (15) inches in width, and twenty (20) inches in height. Liquid scents may be used.
The carcasses of raccoons, muskrats, and opossums may be sold for food during the open trapping season and for thirty (30) days after the close of trapping season. The holder of an All Game License, Sportsman License, or Trapping License may sell any part of any nuisance animal year-round.
Tagging of Otter and Bobcat
Federal regulations, which require tagging to account for harvest of bobcat and river otter, are in effect. The Commission requires the tagging of otter and bobcat, to account for harvest of these species, which are subject to federal export regulations (CITES Tags). Bobcat and river otter harvested in Mississippi must be CITES tagged prior to shipping or transporting out of Mississippi. It is not required to present the carcass or pelt to the MDWFP in order to purchase CITES tags.
CITES tags (via over-the-counter purchases) are only available for purchase from November 1 - April 15 at the following MDWFP locations: Jackson Office, North Region Office, Central Region Office, South Region Office, Buccaneer State Park, Clarkco State Park, Hugh White State Park, J. P. Coleman State Park, John Kyle State Park, Legion State Park, Leroy Percy State Park, Natchez State Park, and Paul B. Johnson State Park. Tags are sold in lots of five each for $1.29 only at the above listed locations. Quantities at each location may be limited, therefore, it is recommended to call in advance.
CITES tags are no longer available by mail-in requests.
Alligator Hunting Permits
Alligator hunting in Mississippi is allowed by special permit only. There are separate seasons for public waters and private lands. Each alligator permit allows the harvest of two alligators 4 feet long or longer, but only one may exceed 7 feet long. The MDWFP issues harvest tags to each permittee and harvest reporting is mandatory.
Public Water Permits – A limited number of public water permits are offered each year. (A random drawing will be conducted by a third-party entity for all available permits in each of the seven alligator hunting zones. To be entered into the drawing, qualified applicants must submit an application electronically between June 1-8. The application is free but there will be a processing fee charged. There are seven zones and customers are limited to one application in a zone of their choice.). To qualify for a permit you must be 16 years of age or older and possess one of the following prior to June 1: a valid Mississippi Sportsman License, All Game Hunting/Fishing License, Small Game Hunting/Fishing License, Apprentice Sportsman License, Apprentice All Game License, Apprentice Small Game License, Senior Exempt License, Disabled Exempt License, or Lifetime License. Winning applicants will be notified via email on or about June 14. A link will be provided to purchase the alligator permit and license. Winners will have a deadline to purchase their permit. Upon the deadline, a second drawing of the remaining undrawn applicants will take place to fulfill any deficits of available unpurchased permits. An online Alligator Hunting Training Course is available at www.mdwfp.com/alligator. An Alligator Hunting License is $25 and an Alligator Possession Permit is $200. Any hunting party guests 16 years of age and older must possess a valid Alligator Hunting License and an All Game Hunting License. Lifetime License holders are exempt from the Alligator Hunting License. Hunter education requirements for licenses do apply. For more specific regulations and application procedures, visit www.mdwfp.com/alligator.
Private Lands Permits – There are 36 counties open to private lands permits. To be eligible, properties in open counties must contain at least 20 acres of privately owned permanent surface water. One harvest permit voucher is issued for properties with at least 20 acres of eligible water and one additional voucher for each additional 100 acres of eligible water. Applications are available at www.mdwfp.com/alligator. Applications are submitted in June and the deadline for submission is July 1. Only one application may be submitted per property. Applicants may be residents or non-residents 16 years of age or older. Applicants must provide signed permission from the landowner, copies of property tax receipts, property deed and legal description, and a property boundary map. An online Alligator Hunting Training Course is available at www.mdwfp.com/alligator. License requirements for drawn applicants are an Alligator Hunting License ($25) and an Alligator Possession Permit (Resident-$100, Non-resident $200), as well as an All Game Hunting License. Any hunting party guests 16 years of age and older must purchase an Alligator Hunting License and an All Game Hunting License. Lifetime License holders are exempt from the Alligator Hunting License. Hunter education requirements for licenses do apply. For more specific regulations and application procedures, visit www.mdwfp.com/alligator.
To Report Wildlife Violations Call: 1-800-BE-SMART (1-800-237-6278)