For the most part, the 2017 deer season is over, although some DMAP cooperators in the Tier 1 classification can still hunt a couple of weeks in February. For Area 1 and 6 hunters, this could still give you time to connect with a deer, and perhaps even that elusive trophy. February is the month for rabbit hunters, and no doubt the hounds are out and about chasing bunnies. Years ago we did a rabbit study with LSU, and we already knew rabbits pretty much breed year-round. But February, March and April were the months that all the female rabbits we collected (we collected about 15 rabbits every month) were either pregnant or lactating. The management areas are open for small game hunting, so public land hunters still have good opportunity to be out in the woods and fields.
Memories from 2017
Did you make some memories this past season? Memories are always good, especially when they happen with family or friends. Even those bad memories are good — disappointing certainly, but still good. Maybe you missed that good buck this season, but you still all the right things to put you in position to see and harvest the deer. Learn from it, and be prepared next year.
I had the joy of watching one of my grandsons shoot doves and squirrels. He is on his way toward joining the ranks of the hunting community. I know a father who experienced the joy and thrill of a son killing his first doe and buck — it was quite a season for Liam and his father Evan.
Another son I know had the joy of seeing his 84-year-old dad harvest a doe — now that is a hunt I know Jimmy will remember for the rest of his days. Jimmy’s son David James had the experience of arrowing a nice buck, only to have it run off. The blood trail the next day eventually led to a buck that had been feasted on by the coyotes all night long. Needless to say he got no meat from that deer, but he still tagged it and has a rack to go with the story.
Frank Sullivan had the joy of bagging a true Boone and Crockett/Pope and Young buck that started off the 2017 season. Perhaps you connected with a trophy like Frank. If so, come to the Sportsman Show next month and see how it ranks compared with the other fine bucks taken this season.
Of course all hunts don’t end with the harvest of a deer, but they are still good memories. I hunted with my friend Ken up in Bossier Parish and had no luck during the November rut, but Ken tagged out with bucks during the first week of the season. Now that’s an accomplishment, and a sign that deer hunting was good and the rut was right on track. Our Old Fart hunt up in Union Parish was also low on the deer harvest, but I had the experience of watching a very large black bear stroll across a right of way one evening. Now I have seen bears in the Basin where they have been for years, but never in the piney woods of Northwest Louisiana. Maybe next time I see one I might have a bear tag in the pocket. My friend Mark and I hunted Pearl River as we always do, along with the Stafford Clan, and while some pigs hit the ground the deer kill was low. I did have a doe come running in after I bleated a few times and that was exciting. And of course, hunting on the snow day was exciting since snow is a rare winter commodity in South Louisiana. Overall, I would say it was a great season and one for the photo albums and scrapbooks.
Turkey season is around the corner
One of the best ways to scout for turkeys is to keep an eye on them during deer season. If you saw both toms and hens that’s good, because once spring arrives the hens will be looking for nesting ground and the gobblers will be following them.
If you saw only gobblers, you need to remember that the habitat for turkeys changes with the seasons, so the toms that were around in your woods eating acorns may move to the fields where the hens will be nesting.
It appears that there has been some disease problems with the turkeys in the Florida Parishes, so if you encounter a sick bird let the biologists at LDWF know. Tag your toms and report your harvests —and make some memories during the 2018 turkey season.
Big buck measuring
The quest for trophy bucks and some new state records begins when we start measuring deer at the Louisiana Sportsman Show in Gonzales. Remember that a rack has to air dry for 60 days before it can be officially scored. If you cannot attend the Sportsman Show in March, you will have another opportunity at the Superdome in New Orleans this summer. If you cannot attend either show, call LDWF and get one of the official measurers with the department to score your deer. An official score is one done according to Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young methods, with deductions taken for lack of symmetry. It will be interesting to see if a new state typical gun-killed buck shows up.