Hello friends,

The next two weeks, this column is going to be as loaded with as much as I can put in it about a trip I took with my daughter Selina, who is a junior at UW-Stevens Point. Selina and I met my brother Tom Walters in the Delta National Forest in west central Mississippi and camped, canoed and hunted for whitetail deer and wild boar for seven days.

Monday, December 27

High 78, low 59

Record heat would be the theme of this incredible adventure in several ways and for the most part it shut down daytime movement for deer and hogs. When Selina and I left Necedah at 11 p.m. on Christmas night. The first form of rough luck was that all gauges on my pickup ceased to function 20 miles into our drive. Selina is sharp and rigged up the GPS on her phone for a speedometer.

We camped remotely, and after a 908-mile drive pulling a trailer, met my brother Tom close to our bayou campsite deep in a forest that was flooded at a level of 6 feet on most trees for 212 days back in 2019. That record flood led to the demise or relocation of most deer and hogs as they either left or were stranded on high ground where many hogs were shot from above. Much of the 2019 fawn crop was killed by raccoon and hogs.

The three of us hunted here that fall for the first time and had no idea about the flood until we arrived. Neither Tom nor I saw a deer. Selina saw two bucks, but we are in a management zone where bucks have to have a 15-inch inside spread or one beam that is at least 18-inches in length.

Our 7-day license that would allow us to harvest up to three bucks but only one a day also gave us small game and waterfowl licenses and cost $185.

In reality, Selina and I had a main goal of harvesting a good-sized hog as it was a different species than we see in Wisconsin. Feral pigs are despised by a large percentage of people in the south due to the damage they inflict on the forest, agriculture, and potentially fawns and turkey.

Our camp was on a bayou, and we had one other campsite in our area that was occupied by long time hunter and super cool guy Bob Harvey and friends and family. Bob is Mississippi’s first 7-level black belt and was an instructor for 50 years.

On day one, Bob named Selina “Yankee Girl” and that was all she was called the entire week. We were at camp seven days, and Bob who was there for 14 would not start hunting until the day after we left because as he put it “everything is nocturnal in this heat.”

Where we camped/hunted we had never been, so exploring by canoe and on foot was how we lived. We would canoe the bayou from camp and eventually find animals that in my case were just over a half mile walk after the same distance canoe adventure.

The heat and humidity was so intense that I did most of my exploring with just a blaze orange vest on the upper half of my body.

Each night we sat by a fire, cooked a very good meal and talked. All three of us live interesting lives and we had some great conversations.

In the morning, Tom would leave camp by 4:30; Selina and I would be a few minutes later, and she would be in her tree by 5:30 I would be in mine just before 6.

This year there was a zero-acorn crop in this area, and that with the heat almost 100-percent ended any daytime meandering by deer and hogs.

This week was also the first week of Mississippi’s deer season with the use of dogs which made things extremely interesting. I will touch more on that next week.

The only day that I ever started my truck, we spoke with three gentlemen who were using dogs and riding horses to hunt squirrels. These fellows had hunted coon the night before with the same method, and I have to tell you, the folks down here are tough like most people cannot understand. Also, squirrel hunting is super respected in the south in a way that some people in the north feel about musky or big bucks.

I see that I am about out of space. Until next week I close with this.

I love the rural, deep south, especially in the cold season. Folks who have not spent time here would have a hard time understanding how tough and respectful our friends in rural southern states are unless they immersed themselves in the region and simply blended with the environment.

Sunset

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