January 2013 - Volume 33, Number 1


This brother-sister team grew up in competitive sports, and their duck-hunting forays to the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area are no different. Here’s how they find success.

A midmorning hunt with a late arrival on the Atchafalaya Wax Delta was the plan. Adam Rhodes had no desire to get up at 3 a.m. to beat the weekend crowd to some of the better locations he already scouted and plugged into his GPS.

The diehard Morgan City waterfowl hunter had done the middle-of-the night thing before in order to beat others to a preferred location.

And he figured out it isn’t always necessary.

Rhodes is now accustomed to making later-in-the-day hunts on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area, understanding the tidal conditions and advantages of scouting prior to hunting the vast 141,000-acre refuge that can only be reached by boat.

Mobility can be a duck hunter’s best friend when hunting pressure builds and birds get skittish. And popup boat blinds are the perfect solution.

I had never been a big fan of boat blinds, but the reality of the situation was finally beginning to settle in.

All of the duck blinds that I had spent endless days over the years constructing, brushing up and renovating on my duck leases were gone, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. I quickly concluded that I would need a new strategy for my duck blinds for the fast-approaching season.

Could a boat blind be the answer?

Delacroix speckled trout don’t typically camp out this time of year. You need to move with them if you want to consistently reach your limits.

If you live in the northern tier of the United States during the month of January, you’d better really like your wife.

The weather is remarkably consistent, and it’s consistently horrible.

The snow doesn’t come down in nice, pretty, little flakes that float back and forth on gentle pillows of fluffy air. It storms from the heavens in torrents that make Hurricane Sandy seem like a summer shower.

If you don’t have one of those fancy snow blowers or a fast-shoveling 12-year-old son fond of child abuse, that lovely combination of ice and air will collect in minutes into massive drifts that will completely hide your home. Open your front door, and you’ll be faced with a wall of white with a cute little indentation where your doorknob once was.

The month of February makes feeding a squirrel dog all year well worth it.

Somewhere inside the small patch of woods surrounded by sugarcane fields, Hoke hunted. Maybe no more than 20 acres in size, if you flew over it the woodland would resemble a postage stamp stuck in the middle of an envelope.

A mix of hackberry, swamp maple, water and pin oaks, the isolated habitat wasn’t large enough to support a deer population, but it’s perfect for big red fox squirrels.

Hoke was used to the terrain, having hunted it before. There’d be no surprises on the afternoon. The goal was simply to spend a couple of hours hunting on a day already short because of winter, and if all went well the day would culminate with shooting a couple of the tree dwellers for the pot.

Cold water temperatures mean deepwater fishing, right? Not according to this angler, who catches big Caney Lake bass using chatter-type lures.

The last thing that comes to most people’s minds when thinking about Caney Lake is a chatter bait. Kenny Covington isn’t most people. He is a bassaholic who isn’t afraid to buck conventional wisdom. When fishing magazines instruct him to head to deep water during the middle of winter, what does Covington do? I’ll tell you what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t fish deep water.

Water temperatures might be falling this month as winter really sets in, but that doesn’t mean you should sit at home. Instead, head to in the Biloxi Marsh to fill the box with trout and reds.

According to the Biloxi Marsh Lands Corporation, the Biloxi Marsh is an estuary network of 210,000 acres of coastal wetlands. That network was crushed by Katrina, and battered and bruised by countless hurricanes and tropical storms before and since.

It was injured by BP, and given a severe thrashing for years by the greatest debacle in the history of the Corps of Engineers — the MRGO.

Yet, marvel of marvels, that marshland survives, and even thrives. Crisscrossed by bayous and canals, dotted with innumerable lakes, bays, ponds and lagoons, it provides a rich variety of habitat that offers for some of the best coastal fishing anywhere on earth.

Don’t worry about river level this time of year: Just head down the Mississippi River for an some great duck hunting and a smorgasbord of fishing around East Bay’s shallow rigs.

After the stomping the Saints put on Detroit in the Dome, we were seriously pumped for the match in San Francisco the following week. For the occasion, Doc even installed an even wider screen TV in his Venice houseboat.

OK, so da Tigers had just gotten stomped by “Bama” for the championship. Like everyone else, we wailed and moaned and moped — but finally sucked it up. Because surely looming was another Saints Superbowl.

Football was the Venice weekend’s rationale — along with some duck hunting.

Today’s hunts in comfortable stands for abundant game have little in common with the good old days of the not-so-distant past.

My butt hurt and my back ached. For several hours I’d been sitting against a small holly tree watching a glade filled with rubs.

It was the last day of deer season, and I was determined to stay until dark to see if a buck would slip out.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a head jerked up about 30 yards away, and I found myself in a staring contest with a large spike. After what seemed an eternity, the buck put its head back down, and I slowly raised my father’s 16-gauge Browning automatic and cut loose with a load of No. 1 buckshot.

Sitting in one pond hoping ducks show up drives many crazy. But this hunter developed a tactic that allows him to go where the birds are and increase his hunting success.

Picture this. You've had a good opening to the duck season. But now the season has been underway a while and you haven't had any cold fronts or strong south winds to bring in new birds or shake things up. They sky is blue-bird clear, and has been for days. The water is so calm you can float a saucer on it. There are no ducks, at least not on your lease. You know they are somewhere, but they aren't where you are. Sound familiar?

The rut extends through December and even into February in large swatches of the state. Here’s how to take advantage of that fact to kill more bucks.

Gail “Bucky” McDavid of Carencro enjoys hunting during the diverse rutting periods of Louisiana.

He’s so avid about it that McDavid will hunt Area 3’s early rut at Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area in October and November, and then follow the rut all the way into January by making frequent trips to Thistlethwaite WMA.

And he’s learned a lot from hunting the rut.

Last Jan. 6, McDavid had chosen a stand site deep within the interior of Thistlethwaite WMA.

Bass become lethargic in cold water, but that doesn’t mean they won’t bite. Tie on a jerkbait and hang it in front of a fish’s face for plenty of wintertime action.

Cold water, shallow water, clear water; plenty of situations make it hard to get fish to bite. For largemouth bass, one of the biggest mistakes anglers make in these conditions is fishing too fast and pulling baits through the strike zone with only a brief window of opportunity for predators to make their move. 

The Louisiana coastal marsh is always changing, but there’s one constant: The Pen out of Lafitte is a fishing oasis for reds, bass and speckled trout.

Change is inevitable in coastal marsh.

The tide gives when it rises and takes away when it falls.

Land piles up in some places while washing away in others.

Fish that you couldn’t stop from biting one day cease to exist the next.

Nowhere is this change more evident than in The Pen. One of the most-famous fishing holes in all of Southeast Louisiana, this Lafitte hotspot once wasn’t even a lake.

A three-year trail camera project reveals some interesting habits of a Boone & Crockett-class buck in the state’s northwest piney woods.

Wildlife research is conducted to learn information about a particular species. Where does it live? What does it eat? What is its breeding chronology? What are its habits?

I think you get the idea. The study is then designed to obtain the desired information.

From a hunter’s standpoint, some of the knowledge gained from a study might not actually be of use to the hunter in his pursuit of the quarry. From the wildlife biologist’s viewpoint, all information can be beneficial for the proper management of the species.

You won't believe what Casey Young went through to kill this 205-inch deer. Story on page 12.