February 2012 - Volume 32, Number 2


Big bucks fall every season, but it seemed monstrous deer were hiding behind every bush this year.

The 2011-12 season kicked off in style when Cecilia’s Nick Thibodeaux arrowed a buck that green scored 160 inches Pope & Young while hunting on Sherburne Wildlife Management Area.

The kill turned out to be a hint of things to come, as monstrous bucks fell at a steady pace throughout the season. By the middle of December, more than a dozen deer scoring over 145 inches had been discovered by Louisiana Sportsman staff.

The 2011 turkey harvest was above the 2010 harvest and almost identical to the good harvest achieved in 2009, and despite poor production this past spring in many areas, the outlook for 2012 is good across the state.

Nov. 19 was the opening day of the deer gun season in Area 1, and I was sitting in my big ladder stand overlooking a long planted strip at Camp David that I have named the Wildlife Tram. A portion of this strip had been planted in American joint-vetch, and had been regularly used by the whitetails. The other portion had been planted with some grain forages for turkeys, and the turkeys had also been frequent users of this strip. In fact a hen and her four poults could often be seen feeding along on the strip since May.

Don’t let cold fronts dissuade you from fishing shallow water for speckled trout.

If I were a betting man, I’d be willing to bet that when Capt.Charlie Thomason was a kid, he was always in trouble. I picture him as the mischievous type, cutting up in class, constantly talking and generally disruptive. Not in any menacing, criminal sense, mind you, but the type of kid who is perpetually antsy, unable to sit quietly, clowning and talking up a storm — the kind of kid who likes to color outside the lines.

If you think you’re really good at filleting fish, don’t stand next to Ricky Richoux at the cleaning table.

The rugged man flipped a business card to the fishermen at the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. It displayed a bowie knife in its center and read Slimeslingers Professional Fish Cleaning: Willing to Travel.

Right down to the ice-water blue eyes and manicured moustache, Ricky Richoux was a ringer for Richard Boone, the sophisticated but testosterone-oozing gunslinger who played Paladin on the six-year television western, Have Gun, Will Travel.

Have your son or daughter apply for the state’s youth lottery hunts, and you may have another Thanksgiving feast in March.

My hunter was Brady Perise, 11. Brady had been drawn for the youth turkey hunt on Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries offers youth lottery hunts on a number of its public WMAs across the state each year. These hunts usually open the week before the regular season and give the kids an opportunity to make a hunt before the adults hit the woods.

Predicting who will win the 2012 Bassmaster Classic is a near impossibility, but guessing how and where it will be won is a much simpler proposition.

It is easier to predict a winning roulette number than it is to guess who’s going to win a Bassmaster Classic. Take Skeet Reese for example. Nobody predicted this California kid going to the Red River and winning in 2009.

However, fishing being what it is, all the variables and proverbial stars aligned for Reese three years ago as he found enough Red River bass to bring home the title of Classic Champion.

Unfortunately for Reese, he won’t be able to defend his Red River championship because for the first time in 10 years, he didn’t qualify for the Classic.

Finish the hunting season with what may be your most enjoyable hunt of the year.

Brent Smith’s head was on a swivel as he knelt on the forest floor in a Washington Parish pine plantation. Ice Man, Law Man, Boss Man, Hawk, Sugar and Ruby had just recently passed on a line where Smith now took a knee. They had announced that they were hot on the trail of a rabbit by tonguing a melodious mix of howls and yelps as they passed, and Smith could tell that the rabbit was now running his beagles in circles about 100 yards to his front.

This type of fishing isn’t sophisticated, but it’s a blast and always produces a feast.

The whoops, roars and racket on Doc’s balcony for the post-Endymion party rattled the very tray as I carried the bowl of fresh-caught sheepshead ceviche to the serving table from the kitchen.

“And plenty, PLENTY more where this came from!” I proclaimed to Doc’s guests, who ignored me en masse, being more interested in the balcony goings-on. Most of the din seemed to come from the balcony itself, rather than from Bourbon Street below.

When the sun’s shining this month, drop everything you’re doing, grab some Rat-L-Traps, and head to the Causeway.

I’m not sure where the black cloud that perennially floats over my head came from, but it has figured out how to stick tight despite my best attempts to try to outrun it in a boat.

Needless to say, the morning I met Capt. Eric Dumas (985.705.1244) at the Mandeville Harbor on the Northshore was a far cry from what we expected. Too bad the Weather Channel didn’t get the memo that I would be going fishing the next day.

Dumas had been texting me some images of 3- and 4-pound trout he was catching on the Causeway spanning the middle of Lake Pontchartrain.

Louisiana will shine this month as the pros descend on the Red River for the Bassmaster Classic.