The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission today backed away from extending the deer-hunting season in Areas 1 and 6 into February, but moved forward with the proposed "limited access areas" in four coastal wildlife management areas.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' Randy Myers told commissioners that his agency had received 323 comments on last month's Areas 1 and 6 deer-hunting proposal, with all but 16 of those comments opposing the change.

However, Myers pointed out that of the 307 negative comments, 223 came from a petition opposing the specific season dates in Area 6 but supporting a later hunting season.

Input from LouisianaSportsman.com users, which was forwarded to each commissioner, was not included in official comments used by the department because they were not forwarded directly to the department, Myers said.

Commission chairman Steve Oats declined to speak with LouisianaSportsman.com; however, commissioner Stephen Sagrera said the site's user input was important.

"I read every one of the comments, and I'm sure the other commissioners do, too," Sagrera said. "You take into account every comment you hear. There was a lot of pro and there was a lot against it.

"There was not a lot of consensus; it was basically split."

He said that split was what convinced him to vote to go back to the original dates.

 "To me this was a perfect example of how the public comment system works," Sagrera said. "As it is, it works. You don't want to make things work by making changes.

"We need to come up with a better plan."

The decision by commissioners to go back to last season's structure was greeted by cheers from many in attendance.

However, there were those who believed there might need to be changes at some point.

"We do think the Area 1 and Area 6 season dates need some changes, but it's not necessarily the broad-brush approach," said Bill Shockey of the Quality Deer Management Association. "But it needs more study by the (LDWF) staff.

"We've lived with (the current season structures) this long; we can live with it a little longer."

The LAAs, which would prohibit the use of boats with internal combustion engines on the four WMAs, were added to the final hunting-seasons proposals on which commissioners will take final action during May's meeting. The vote was unanimous and without comment.

Effected if the proposal receives final approval would be Atchafalaya Delta, Point-aux-Chenes, Pass-au-Loutre and Salvadore WMAs. Click here to see maps showing the proposed limited access areas on each of the areas.

Randy Myers said his agency had received only 15 comments on the proposals (again, the LouisianaSportsman.com input was not included in his count), with only nine people opposing the measure.