Fuzzy Racks, Beware!

Realtree’s Tyler Jordan got his boots wet in Mississippi during the state’s 2022 inaugural three-day velvet season. It’s his first deer in the ‘Sip and the second-largest buck harvested on Backwoods Attractions’ Testing Grounds property in Yazoo County to date. It only took one afternoon sit to catch this 175-inch giant.  

“I went to school at Ole Miss and was there five years, hunted every season outside of Oxford with my buddies but was never successful,” Tyler said. “I’m proud of this one.”

House Bill 1035, passed during a 2022 legislative session, authorizing the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to establish and regulate a velvet season across the state. Bowhunters were given an opportunity to fill one velvet buck tag between September 16 and 18, exclusively on private land this year, and certain Wildlife Management Areas next year. This special tag counts toward your annual antlered bag limit.

Mississippi DWFP Chief of Staff Russ Walsh said bowhunters have been trying for years trying to get a velvet-season.

“There was a desire from bowhunters across the state and the Mississippi Bow Hunters Association to have an opportunity to harvest a velvet buck, because by Oct. 1, a good portion of our state’s antlered deer have already shed their velvet,” Russ told Buckmasters. “Through discussions with the state legislature and bowhunters, we were able to mold that bill into what it became. It’s a unique and different opportunity for hunters to harvest a velvet buck and not have to travel to do so.”

In total, 284 velvet-antlered deer were reported for mandatory harvest reporting and CWD sampling, one of which was Tyler’s.

Backwoods Attraction leases the Testing Grounds, and for the last three years, Small Town Hunting has managed the 3,000-acre property. South of Yazoo City along the Mississippi Delta, the ground features white and red oaks, sloughs and nearly 80 acres of food plots.

Last year the outfit allowed a limited number of hunters to bow hunt 5-year-old bucks and older to protect several young 10-pointers on the property. In the three years the folks at Small Town Hunting have tested Backwoods Attractions’ products at the Testing Grounds, they’ve seen an 8- to 10-inch increase in rack size, and their average buck weighs 255 pounds.

“There’s a strong 10-point gene on this property; its prime for big deer,” said Small Town Hunting’s Cody Kelley. “All our high-scoring deer are going to have similar frames to Tyler’s velvet buck. They’re heavy, have tall tines and are usually between 10 and 12 points. We knew Tyler’s deer well; we had piles of trail cam pictures of him as a 150-inch 11-pointer last year when he was on a do-not-shoot list. He was one of the first deer to show up this summer during the daylight and always came to Shady Patch.”

Cody adds that although he would’ve liked Mississippi’s velvet season to take place in August, he believes it was good for the state overall.

“I like how the buck tag counts toward your three-buck quota. It’s not a bonus buck, and you can’t harvest does because the fawns are dropping and aren’t ready to be on their own at this point,” he said. “Personally, I would have liked to see it sooner because its right at the point where a lot of deer are shedding, but all our bucks were still in velvet at the time the season opened this year.”

By Patrick Dunning
Originally for Buckmasters

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