Dear Capt. Paul:
I know that this in not an entirely GPS question, but I have been impressed with your findings of different reader-requested hunting and fishing locations. I hope that you can assist me.
I recently was at a family gathering. I naturally took interest in my granddad and uncles and some of their past hunting stories. Many of their exploits were at an area they called Saline WMA. Stories such as, “The sun never shines at Saline,” that it was a large swamp-like, very wet bottomland east of Alexandria. I tried as best as I could I could not fine any trace of this WMA in Louisiana hunting area.
Capt. Paul’s response:
Well, Danny, you are in luck; I am glad to help. I was an avid hunter of the Saline WMA during the January deer hunting seasons. It was one of the few WMA areas that were open in early January either-sex deer hunting. We would plan at least one extended stay at the primitive — and I do mean primitive — campsite at Muddy Bayou during that season. In addition, I still have some of the Wildlife Management-issued maps of the area and have included a visual of one of them.
The reason you couldn’t find Saline is the name of the area has changed to Dewey Wills. Saline is now the Dewey Wills WMA.
The area has increased from 60,275 acres in 1978 to 63,901 at present; it is jointly owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the LaSalle Parish School Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is an excellent area for deer and waterfowl.
According to the LDWF, the WMA is in LaSalle, Catahoula and Rapides parishes in Central Louisiana about 20 miles northeast of Alexandria. It is easily accessible from the large metropolitan areas via Louisiana Highway 28. The interior contains a network of all-weather roads providing vehicular access. LDWF has built and maintains four primitive camping areas and five concrete boat ramps.
Game species hunted are deer, squirrels, rabbits, raccoon, turkey and waterfowl. Each year, the area produces trophy bucks. Trapping for furbearers is allowed; species available include raccoon, nutria, beaver, mink, bobcat, fox and coyotes.
A tremendous variety of non-game bird species are present on the area. Neo-tropical nesters, shorebirds, wading birds, and various raptors are among the birds that can be found on the WMA.
The area affords excellent sport and commercial fishing. Species caught include black bass, white bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill and other sunfish. Commercial species include buffalo, carp, drum, gar and catfish. Additional information may be obtained from LDWF, 1995 Shreveport Highway, Pineville, LA 71360, 318-487-5885. Maps can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2753
We have spent some of the worst cold, wet and windy camping days at Saline but were rewarded with some very nice deer. This brings to mind a warning; be sure to regularly check the LDWF site, as rising river waters in the area may cause closures. Be prepared to leave the camp site with a few hours’ notice.
In keeping with the GPS theme of this column, here are some of the position locations:
Muddy Bayou campground: N 31°23.484’ W 92° 28.945’
LA Highway 28 campground: N 31°27.275’ W 92°07.487’
Bridge to LA Highway 115: N 31°23.348’ W92°07.361’
Indian Bayou weigh station: N 31°23.345’ W92°07.515’
— Capt. Paul