September 2012 - Volume 32, Number 9


Plan your vacation days with these predicted rutting dates in mind.

The key to having a good deer population is to have good reproduction to replace the deer harvested from the previous season and those that die from natural mortality. The key to having good reproduction is to maintain quality habitat for the deer so does are healthy, can have successful pregnancies and raise new fawns for the population.

There is no question the drought in 2010 and 2011 created problems for deer herds across the state and deer numbers have declined. And there is no question that the lack of logging activity is creating problems for deer habitat and subsequently for the deer population.

Coyotes are also being blamed for low deer numbers across the Southeast, so much so that many biologists and researchers at the 2012 Southeast Deer Study Group Meeting suggested that landowners and deer managers may want to reduce the doe harvest to maintain good deer numbers because of the fawn depredation.

It’s time to start planning your hunting season, so here’s a look at what the wildlife management areas across the state have to offer.

Did you know when mast-producing trees are stressed, as they are in a drought, they produce a bumper crop of acorns?

Or that a wildlife management area in Louisiana is devoted exclusively to youth hunting and youth hunting education only?

Did you know one 19,000-plus-acre WMA is bordered by a 100,000-plus-acre national wildlife refuge, which combined gives deer hunters optimum opportunities to hunt and kill deer — some large animals, at that — on the vast public bottomland hardwood region?

Louisiana’s most-famous reptile has a long and colorful history.

Louisiana has long captured America’s imagination with its beautiful bayous, delicious cuisine and abundant wildlife. Television shows such as “Swamp People” have only increased that interest — particularly about Louisiana’s famous alligators.

Stories about the alligator (or “crocodile,” as the French called them) began to appear in print soon after the Sieurd’Iberville established the Louisiana colony in 1699.

In fact, one of the first mentions of our alligator can be found in Iberville’s diary.

“We see a large quantity of crocodiles,” he wrote while exploring Bayou Manchac. “I killed a small one, 8 feet long. They are very good to eat.”

In the once-disputed territory along the lower Sabine River, big speckled trout await. Here are some tips on how to put them in the boat.

No Man’s Land!

It has a romantic ring to it.

Most people who can associate it with anything do so with World War I, when it was used to describe the land between the trenches of the opposing armies in Europe. But before the term was ever used in the Great War, as it was then called, it was used in Louisiana.

When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase, both of its borders with Spain were unclear. What are now the Florida Parishes were claimed by Spanish-held Florida. The western boundary was disputed by Spanish Mexico.

It doesn’t take migrating ducks long to be educated by blinds sticking up out of Louisiana’s marshes, but they just don’t seem phased by layout boats.

You hear it all the time when it comes to duck blind concealment: Low profile is key.

After all, the marshes of South Louisiana aren’t exactly known for stands of trees providing habitat conducive to hiding. Our marshes are dominated by cord grasses standing a towering 2 or 3 feet above the muck, depending on when the last hurricane visited.

If you’re lucky, there might be a patch of Roseau cane near your favorite pond, but that is usually more exception than norm.

And it seems that birds most often use ponds that inconveniently offer minimal cover to the hunter in pursuit.

That said, I have to chuckle when chasing summer redfish in the marsh and I come across blind after blind towering over the surrounding landscape. You know the ones I’m referring to: Just look out the window on your next flight out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International.

Anglers aren’t the only creatures looking for shade when the sun blasts down. Here are some tips on how to leverage that knowledge to catch stringers of bass.

My Lucky Craft Sammy topwater landed less than its length from the base of a cypress tree. I mindlessly snapped it back and forth a couple times to impart that lazy walk-the-dog action that big bass just can’t seem to ignore.

At 7:30 in the morning, my shirt was already soaked with sweat, so I diverted my attention away from my Sammy sitting lifelessly on the surface in an effort to see if there was any shade we could get under.

The slurping sound hardly registered in my mind, so when I turned around to walk my Sammy again, I was surprised to find that it was nowhere to be found.

Anglers can head to the West Delta rigs to take advantage of the cobia invasion as these hard fighters make their way eastward.

The shallow West Delta rigs are in kind of a funny place, as far as cobia are concerned. One would think that, as they make their migration across the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, cobia would stack up on the West Delta rigs during the spring, but that’s not the case. They do eventually occupy the West Delta rigs, but it’s not until September as they migrate along the Gulf Coast back to Florida. Why would they invade the West Delta rigs in September but not the spring?

The I-10 twin spans had to be demolished after Hurricane Katrina, but all of that concrete didn’t go to waste. Instead, it was used to build the St. Tammany Fishing Pier.

When the winds of Hurricane Katrina began to subside, a grim view began to immerge on the northeastern shore of Lake Ponchartrain, one that will forever burn in our memories — the hallowed fishing grounds of the Interstate 10 twin spans had been severely damaged.

This damage would ultimately result in the old spans being replaced by two new bridges, and what was left of the old bridges were removed.

Learning the art of the rifle — and taking impossibly long shots — is a matter of expert training and a lot of shooting.

The recoil of the 168 grain Hornady Match A-Max .30-06 rammed the rifle stock backwards, pushing it straight into my shoulder—in line with the prone position I had taken in the gravel shooting pit of the rifle range.

“Riding the Bull” as Tim Fallon called it, I rocked back down onto the bipod and my rear support, a backpack, my cheek welded securely to the cheekpiece we had attached to our rifle stocks.

There’s no better way to hook a youngster on hunting than the Sherburne WMA youth deer hunts.

Following a short ATV ride before daylight, Jared Wolfe and his Uncle Joe Dunaway climbed into their assigned stand for the 2011 Sherburne WMA Youth Hunt.

Initially, the task took a bit of doing for the youngster, who had to overcome the nuisances of a cast he was wearing — courtesy of a foot injury incurred when jumping into too-shallow water.

The cast and growth plate doctors placed on top of his foot, though inconvenient, wasn’t enough to cause Wolfe to miss his lottery hunt on Sherburne. Settled in and checking out his confines the youngster was ready.

Understanding what makes a blue-winged teal tick can help you catch up to the acrobatic flyer during the early 16-day season.

Ask a Louisiana duck hunter to describe a good hunting experience and you’re most likely to get a story that reflects upon a time when he and his comrades ventured into the swamp to bag a limit of big ducks in the wintry months of November through January.

When it comes to looking back on the accomplishments of the seasons that have passed, it is only natural to immediately consider that time frame.

After all, it’s when most of the hunting happens; it’s when the ducks are prettier, fatter and most plentiful; it’s more than likely the reason why most duck hunters still have meat in their freezers from the previous year, and there’s a 99.9-percent chance that it represents the time when a hunter bagged the beautiful duck that is mounted on their office wall to this day.

As the great ambassadors of the hobby we love, it would be an injustice to an aspiring hunter if we were to tell them anything less than our greatest duck-hunting story in hopes of making them curious enough to want to jump in the boat with us on our next excursion.

The words ‘September’ and ‘transition’ are almost redundant to trout anglers, but here are some tips on how to seine Black Bay for everything it’s worth.

September can pose some real challenges for trout fishermen. First, we have weather to contend with and, while that is true in any month, September is the peak of our tropical season — which brings winds and seas to a whole different level. Even when we don’t get nailed head-on by tropical systems, the very presence of one anywhere in the Gulf destabilizes the weather and makes for very windy and rough conditions for a week or more at a time. Then, there’s the “transition” thing speckled trout go through. It’s like trout menopause.

This time of year, you don’t have to be a good freshwater angler to catch all the bass you want out of Venice.

Jonathan Ryan is an avid speckled-trout angler.

The perfect day for him is finding some new honey hole in what’s left of the Delacroix marsh, and throwing double-rigged Hybrids to specks that are on Jenny Craig’s new plastic-only diet.

The breadth of his bass-fishing experience just about equals his time spent walking on the moon. When he was a youngster, he made a few trips to his uncle’s stocked pond, where he caught some bass off a pier.

That’s it.

He probably won’t be the next Kevin VanDam.

It's time to plan vacation for the best deer hunting. Also learn the best WMAs to target.