Southwest Mississippi’s peak rut dates are now less than a week away

Published 5:39 pm Friday, December 30, 2022

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By Hunter Cloud
The Daily Leader

BROOKHAVEN — Southwest Mississippi’s peak rut dates are now less than a week away. This should lead to increased observations, movement and harvests of deer.
In the meantime, here is a collection of outdoor briefs for local outdoorsmen to enjoy at the end of the year. The new year 2023 will soon be here and so will the end of deer season on January 31, rabbit and squirrel season on February 28 and the opening day of turkey season on March 15.
Chronic Wasting Disease Update
Sometimes no news is good news and it is certainly the case in Chronic Wasting Disease sampling efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. No new cases of CWD have been detected in Louisiana while Mississippi has had 40 detections this year alone.
With the exception of two positives in Warren County, the majority of Mississippi’s CWD positives have been found in Benton and Marshall Counties. Hunters have submitted 3,218 samples in Mississippi this year alone.
Rut starting in Southwest Mississippi
Scrapes, rubs and buck observations should start to increase over the next few weeks. Southwest Mississippi’s peak rut dates are from January 4 to January 9 and include about two weeks on either side of those dates of good breeding activity.
MSU’s Deer Lab reports 35 percent of scrape visits occur in pre-rut, 25 percent in early rut, 16 percent in the peak rut, 12 percent in the late rut and 14 percent in the post rut. 20 percent of deer breeding occurs in the early rut, 60 percent occurs during the peak and 20 percent occurs during the late rut according to MSU’s Deer Lab research.
Hunters can take advantage of this breeding activity by finding a line of scrapes and hunting the trail or by hunting the edges of fields where bucks are likely to circle downwind to find does ready to breed.
Southeast Mississippi has the latest peak rut dates in the state which is why their season starts later than the rest of the state.
Ducks finding their way to Louisiana
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had good news from its recent aerial surveys of Louisiana’s waterfowl wintering grounds. LDWF estimates 2.1 million birds are in Louisiana which is above the November report of 802,000 and 3.1 percent higher than the five year average.
Catahoula Lake had some of its worst numbers in history. 2004 was the last time a December duck estimate on Catahoula Lake was lower than the 29,000 presented in this survey. A lack of dabblers and the reduced number of divers make this the 10th lowest Catahoula Lake December duck estimate on record dating back to 1968. The lake was at target level (29.57 MSL) on the day of the survey and human disturbance was not observed.
Southeast Louisiana saw some improvement with an estimated total of 705,000 ducks. It is 137% greater than the record low 297,000 in December 2021, the estimate for the southeast marshes is 15% below the most recent 5-year average. In recent history, both 2012 (627,000) and 2013 (679,000) had comparable duck abundances. No observable differences in habitat were apparent in contrast to November, but habitat had improved in the Terrebonne and Barataria basins from post-hurricane Ida conditions of December 2021.
Large numbers of coots were again distributed throughout the marsh. Diver numbers, especially scaup and ring-necked ducks, but with the exception of canvasbacks, were again abundant on the southeast coast. The only geese observed in the southeast were a small flock of 200 at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
HPAI update, one canada goose subcombs
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza claimed the life of another bird in Mississippi according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. A canda goose found dead in Madison County was the latest bird to be a confirmed positive for HPAI in Mississippi.
Since September, 112 waterfowl have had a confirmed positive HPAI case in Mississippi. Louisiana is at 54 cases but did not have any new cases this past week. There have not been any new detections of HPAI in commercial poultry flocks, Lawrence County had the only outbreak in Mississippi poultry producers thus far.
MDWFPs small game biologist Rick Hamrick said last week it was possible for quail to contract the disease but rather unlikely. It would also be difficult to find any quail who had succumbed to the disease given how small they are.
Warm weather, fishing fixing to get hot
Winter Solstice was last week which means each day will continue to get longer allowing for warmer days and warmer water. Late January and Early February should be perfect for crappie fishing as deer hunters look for other things to occupy their time.
Low water levels could allow anglers to scout potential fishing spots for the high spring water although there is a possibility of finding fish this time of year on warm sunny days. Check the MDWFP’s Fishing Reports for local lakes to see what might be the best way to approach fishing this time of year.