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October 24, 2007

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100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Mississippi

Sunflower Wildlife Management Area
: east central Mississippi
Size: 58,480 acres
ZIP: 39159

Mississippi's biggest deer are in the fertile delta region, where the mineral-rich soil spurs growth of food and antlers. Located inside the Delta National Forest, Sunflower is managed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to produce mature bucks. Antler restrictions that call for a 15-inch inside spread or an 18-inch main beam seem to be working: The majority of bucks harvested on this flat bottomland area are 3 years olds or better, according to Jackie Fleeman, a wildlife biologist for the MDWFP who has managed Sunflower since 1983. Fleeman laid hands on a couple of 150-class deer at check stations last season. Amazingly, though the WMA is open to all licensed hunters, pressure is light. "I don't know why we don't have more people hunting on Sunflower when the hunting is as good as it is," he says. "Those who do show up are killing good bucks."

Mahannah Wildlife Management Area
: east central Mississippi
Size: 12,675 acres
ZIP: 39156

Starting this year Mahannah boasts the toughest antler restrictions in the state-a minimum 18-inch inside spread or 20-inch main beam. Those requirements set the public ground on equal footing with its neighbors, 32,000 acres of private hunting clubs that surround Mahannah. Like Sunflower, only ten miles away, Mahannah has fertile soil and abundant food. But here the hunting is archery-only, and if you're not lucky enough to snag a permit in the lottery you'll have to wait until January, when Mahannah opens to all. The wait is worth it: A few years back this WMA produced a nontypical that weighed 280 pounds and grossed 191 Boone and Crockett. High water can be a late-season factor in these flat, low-lying open hardwoods, but it bothers hunters more than deer. "Deer go right to the water," Fleeman says, "and lay up on a pile of vines and eat."


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I'd like to hunt Sunfower WMA!


Not meaning to dispute your info, although it is true, that the ms. river delta produces heavy deer, all of our state records come from region known as the Black Belt (named for it's rich soil) in eastern MS. The Tombigbee river bottoms have produced several 300 + # deer in the last decade. Thanks for what you do. Love your mag.!!! K.S.

Did a Dove boy kill a buck on sunflower that scored over 195 boone and crocket

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100 Top Public Lands
Field & Stream reporter Steven Hill spent two months interviewing state game agency officials, deer biologists, and whitetail experts to identify the absolute best public whitetail hunting grounds in the nation.

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