While duck hunters will likely dominate the landscape in Southwest Louisiana Saturday for the second weekend of teal season, another group has Sept. 17 circled on their calendars for a completely different reason.

This Saturday marks the opening day of bow season in Areas 3, 8 and 10 in Southwest Louisiana — thanks to the unique breeding habits of the deer herd in that part of the state.

“It’s just a phenomenon. It’s something we’ve identified over the years from herd health checks when we look at fetal measurements from does,” Johnathan Bordelon, deer study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said. “We realized quickly that these deer are breeding there much earlier than anywhere else in the state, and that was justification for carving out those particular deer areas and giving them a little bit earlier season.”

The three areas are made up of Cameron, Vermilion, Acadia, Jeff Davis, Calcasieu and  Beauregard parishes, as well as parts of Vernon, Allen, Rapides, Lafayette, Iberia and St. Landry parishes.

“That’s our earliest breeding in the state,” Bordelon said. “You look at Southwest Louisiana and you look at the breeding map, and they’re breeding there in October. So with October breeding, you have a season opening in mid-September for archers to provide some opportunity before the peak of breeding, even though it’s so far in advance of what you see across the rest of the state.”

The bulk of bow season begins statewide on Oct. 1, except for  Areas 5, 6 and 9, which open on Oct. 16. 

The season limit is six deer, not to exceed three antlered or four antlerless deer, except for deer harvested on property enrolled in DMAP.