Volume 32 Number 11 - November 2012

Features

Hunting hogs in Louisiana is nothing new. Here’s a look at the tradition of hunting the ‘piney woods rooters’ that inhabit the Catahoula Lake region.

I grew up in Winn Parish and learned how to hunt while chasing squirrels in Dugdemona swamp. Whether alone or with family members, I always kept a sharp eye out for the free-ranging hogs that roamed the woods.

My father and uncles sometimes told us boys stories of being chased or treed by hogs in the old days when most of the local families kept PWRs (piney woods rooters, to the uninformed).

An annual ritual was to use dogs to catch the hogs so the family’s mark could be cut into their ear. Sometimes, things didn’t go as planned and the hogs would charge the hunters.

This retired Slidell physician has earned his place as a legend in one of Louisiana’s few trophy-trout lakes. Here’s why.

Dr. Bob Weiss knew where some keeper trout were holding. He knew he could yank up his anchor, start his motor and high-tail it to feeding speckled trout at the L&N Bridge in the Rigolets.

It would have taken him less than 10 minutes to get there, and Weiss could have caught all the specks he wanted — with several black drum and maybe even a redfish or flounder to pretty up the box.

But he sat in the same spot he had fished all morning without so much as a sniff from a speckled trout. Weiss had caught and released some mangrove snapper, croakers, sheepshead, catfish and enough black drum to fill a couple of limits.

None of those fish interested him, though. Weiss wanted speckled trout.

Many anglers believe consistently catching trout is complicated, but this Venice guide says there’s no reason to over-think your approach.

I can’t remember exactly where I was when someone first told me “Keep it simple, Stupid.” I do distinctly remember that I was a little insulted — being called “Stupid,” and all that.

I remember bowing up and the speaker having to explain that it was simply a figure of speech he often used to remind himself not to over-think something.

It was probably some of the best advice I have ever gotten.
Lots of times simple is best, although it can be hard to convince some fishermen of that — especially bass and speckled trout anglers.

Admittedly, specks can be a challenge. Here today; gone tomorrow. When you do find them, the bite can be ferocious and then boom — it just shuts off — for no apparent reason.

Duck hunting is all about getting out early and watching birds flying as the sunrises, right? Not if you’re hunting the Mississippi Delta.

The LSU-Ole Miss showdown wasn’t exactly a nail-biter. But our “tailgater” had Doc’s Venice houseboat fairly rocking and rolling with whoops and cheers as the Tigers put a 52-3 stomping on the Rebels.

And we weren’t the only ones celebrating. Half the houseboats around us also erupted in whoops and cheers. Complete bedlam reigned around us, and in short order many of these celebrants joined us for deer nachos, boiled crabs and grilled redfish — to say nothing of the keg Doc had so thoughtfully provided for the occasion.

Bayou Corne is filled with sac-a-lait, and this expert shares how he fills his ice chest ­— every trip.

Oh yeah! I passed Jambalaya Lane, turned down Gumbo Lane, passed Crawfish Stew Lane and hung a left on Sauce Piquant Lane. How could this be wrong?

Only in South Louisiana!

Great fishing and great food, all in the same place.

The place was Bayou Corne, the tiny settlement located where Louisiana Highway 70 crosses the bayou of the same name. Smaller than the nearest town of Pierre Part, Bayou Corne is famous for its crappie fishing, known locally as sac-a-lait and in North Louisiana as white perch.

Do you know why you throw your favorite spinnerbait? Take some time to really figure that out, and you could catch more bass.

Few bass anglers give much thought about what spinnerbait they tie on the ends of their lines. Want proof? Take a look at what’s lying on the front decks of bass boats all across the Bayou State.

Odds are you’ll find 75 percent have tied on 3/8-ounce chartreuse-and-white spinnerbaits with tandem Colorado/willow-blade combinations.

The other 25 percent? According to West Monroe’s Kenny Covington, they’ll have tied on a 3/8-ounce chartreuse-and-white double-willow spinnerbait.

“But none of them know why they’re throwing either one,” Covington said. “They may know that bass are slamming spinnerbaits right now because they’re up shallow feeding on shad, but they don’t know why they have those particular kinds of spinnerbaits tied on.”

Follow this insider’s guide to Delacroix’s hottest fishing spots for speckled trout.

“One fish. Two fish. Red fish. Blue fish. Black fish. Blue fish. Old fish. New fish. This one has a little star. This one has a little car. Say! What a lot of fish there are.” Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss could have been counting fish in Delacroix Island when he penned those words about the wide variety of fish in the sea. There certainly are red fish and black fish and bluish-colored catfish, and long fish and flat fish and spotted seatrout fish.

We even have fish Dr. Seuss couldn’t imagine: fish called sheepshead and fish called drum, gaff-top, croaker, cigar or runt. Unladylike lady fish stealing your bait, banana fish, crab crunchers, snapper and spades.

Quite the variety of fish God has made.

This Eagle Scout provides tips on how to take more Atchafalaya Basin wood ducks.

Long before daylight, Cole Romero laid flat on his back along the floor of the boat, the back of his head resting on a gear bag positioned on the front deck like a pillow.

Comfortably out of the wind with his friend Michael Broussard at the helm, Romero was content to watch the stars that suddenly looked like you could touch them as we left the city lights of Berwick Bay heading upriver into the Atchafalaya Basin to hunt wood ducks.

The Boy Scout Oath reads: “On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country. To help other people at all times, to obey the scout law, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

Are your club’s rules set up to properly manage your deer herd? Take this test to see if you need to make some changes.

It’s time for the 2012 edition of Shoot-Don’t Shoot Sportsman, so grab a pen and paper, and mark how many times you would squeeze the trigger.

How many times have you heard, “If its brown, it is going down” or “If I don’t shoot it, someone else will” or “I only get to hunt a few days, so I just want to kill a deer, any deer” or “Any buck is a trophy buck, it is all in the eye of the beholder?”

If you really think about it, these are all legitimate reasons for shooting a deer. After all, deer hunting is supposed to be a recreational activity that allows you to escape the problems of the world and re-create yourself in the great outdoors.

Use this military philosophy to put more fish in your boat, even on tough days.

As a soldier in a field-artillery unit based in Baumholder, Germany, three words drilled into my government-issue brain were shoot, move and communicate.

We had to keep up with a rapidly evolving battlefield in order to support ground forces and reroute requests from fire directions centers directly to the cannons so we could put steel on targets.

Our ability to seamlessly pull this off determined the overall success of the mission.

Acorns literally carpet many areas in Louisiana, but all of these nuts aren’t equal. Find the ones deer prefer, and you have found a real honey hole.

Acorns crunched under my boots as my buddy and I pressed farther into the heart of Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge.

It seemed to me at the time that we could have stopped and climbed up any number of trees and had a reasonable shot at killing something.

I reached down and picked up a couple acorns and put them in my pocket with aspirations of potting them when I got home in hopes that they would grow.

We finally stopped on the edge of an oak flat right on the edge of a little bayou. On the surface, it didn't look any different than any of the other oak flats we had skirted on our way in.

Scrape activity is high this time of year, particularly when deer pay visits to community scrapes.

In search of vegetative foliage, five bucks ­— a mature 8-pointer, a 3½-year-old, two spunky spikes and a curious button buck — go single file along the forest edge, ascending a bluff. Occasionally the group stops to forage; yet one of the spikes and the button buck, by instinct, prefer to assertively test their status with bouts of mock sparring.

But soon the bachelor crew resumes their exodus to the vantage point.

Reaching the pinnacle, the older buck, using sight and scent, goes to a distinct pine tree and performs intense licking branch behavior. After thrashing his antlers and releasing scent from several glands, the buck breaks away and continues traversing the old game trail.

The Sherburne WMA complex offers great Thanksgiving hunting options. Here are some tips to making the most of this public-lands tradition.

The Friday after Thanksgiving 2011 found Lyle Savant of Central locating an active scrape near an oak flat deep within the interior of Sherburne Wildlife Management Area.

The Opelousas native, having scouted the area six weeks before this hunt, picked a tree adjacent to a thicket downwind of an oak where deer sign indicated heavy feeding.

Very early that morning, he heard a deer approaching at his back. He admittedly made the mistake of easing around and, unfortunately, the deer moved away.

“Then, just after daylight, here comes a deer chasing in almost a full run out of the thicket,” Savant said. “I saw two does, and I made the decision to take the last one since it was an either-sex day.”