BY ANDY CRAWFORD
|Roseland Plantation has been groomed
to produce numbers of big bucks. Most of the deer taken, like
the 150-point-class buck downed by Ralph McDaniel (right)
are killed with bows. A few, like 10-year-old Caroline Burks’
buck are taken with guns. Burks’ deer scored 132 B&C points.
The boom of the 1990s resulted in more and more people dumping
their extra money into the stock market, and many of those new
investors made lots and lots of money.
A few Louisianians saved some of their capitol, however, for
another kind of investment — land.
But they weren’t looking to build houses and subdivide this
land. What these devoted outdoorsmen wanted was to develop their
newly bought land into a paradise of hunting and fishing.
Here are a few stories of how these investments are paying off.
Roseland Plantation - Concordia Parish
Baton Rouge’s Shawn Burks and a brother-in-law grew tired of
dealing with the hassles of leases 12 years ago.
“You’ve managed it and done right by the landowners, and all
of a sudden a doctor or attorney offers $5 an acre more than you’re
paying and you’re subject to being unseated,” Burks said.
During a conversation about the disadvantages and risks surrounding
leases, the two hatched a plan.
So they brought in another of Burks’ brothers-in-law and a buddy,
each chipped in some money, and they bought 3,400 acres of Concordia
During the succeeding years, the group of avid hunters has purchased
more than 2,000 additional acres that today make up Roseland Plantation.
Today, Burks owns a 25-percent stake in the property, while
his brothers-in-law, Ferriday’s Dee and Jess Horton, own 15 and
10 percent, respectively.
Lafayette’s Roland Dugas owns the other 50-percent stake.
The land is prime bottomland/hardwood in the fertile Mississippi
Delta, with all but 600 to 700 acres of the property lying on
the outside of the river’s levees. The unprotected land is inside
Burks and his partners have invested heavily in the property,
sinking money and time into programs to increase the quality of
the deer herd and provide plenty of feeding and resting area for
“It was like an old dog — the foundation was there; it was a
registered dog that had gone astray,” Burks said. “What we did
was take that old dog and groom it and shampoo it and make it
what it is today.”
What Roseland Plantation is today is a playground for deer and
The property had what Burks described as “a good deer herd and
good genes,” but the goal of the group of owners was from the
beginning to allow the bucks to live long enough to grow record-book
The state’s Deer Management Assistance Program has been an integral
part of their pursuit of that goal, but it has also required a
lot of man-hours and money.
Drainage has been improved on the land, allowing some of the
property to be used as agricultural land.
“It was unfarmable because of drainage,” Burks said. “We put
a good bit of money on development.”
Some of the land has been leased out to farmers, who have planted
soybeans, corn, milo and cotton.
That has provided plenty of high-protein food for deer, improving
their health and helping in the production of big racks.
Added to the agricultural foods available to deer are hundreds
of acres of clover growing wild on the levee.
“Our deer never go through a harsh time of year,” Burks said.
Because of the ample food, the couple of hundred acres of green
patches are only planted just prior to hunting season.
“They’re mainly to attract deer. There’s plenty, plenty of natural
vegetation for the deer to eat,” Burks explained. “We don’t plant
a summer crop because there’s soybeans all around us. They wouldn’t
use the food plots.”
As part of the trophy deer management program on the property,
pressure is kept to a minimum.
This includes strict hunting restrictions.
“We bow hunt exclusively in the interior,” he said.
That doesn’t mean there is no gun hunting, however.
“We manage does with guns. We do all that on the borders,” Burks
said. “In the interior, we’re pretty quiet.”
Most of those allowed to hunt on that perimeter are kids, women
and those with disabilities.
“Ninety percent of the deer are killed with bows,” he said.
In keeping with the desire to hold disturbance of the deer population
to a minimum, Roseland Plantation land will soon be off limits
to all-terrain vehicles.
“We’re going to golf carts only,” Burks said. “They can hear
To accommodate this, interior roads are being improved.
“You can imagine how much is being invested in roads to allow
golf carts,” he said.
This has all paid off in the ability for the hunters to be pretty
“We try to shoot only book deer — those that score at least
125 points,” Burks said. “We killed 16 last year, with the best
measuring 176 inches.”
Also, certain tracts of the land have become part of “wildlife
cuts,” which basically means all non-mast-producing trees have
been removed and hardwoods planted in their places. Hardwoods
are planted at a rate of 150 trees per acre.
“We don’t take out any nut- or fruit-bearing trees — persimmons,
honey locust, pecans or oaks,” Burks said.
Although it obviously will take years for those trees to mature
and begin dropping mast, Burks said the impact of these selective
cuttings to wildlife is immediate.
“What you’re doing is creating openings that allow more sunlight
in, producing more browse,” Burks said.
More land has been impounded and planted in rice for waterfowl,
and that is complemented by agricultural rice fields surrounding
There is also flooded timber that attracts mallards by the droves.
“We have 20 duck blinds throughout the property, with another
10 or so places that we don’t have blinds but we can hunt,” Burks
This year, soybeans are also going to be flooded, which will
add to the duck habitat, and that doesn’t even include the batture
“When the river comes up, you have 100 places to hunt,” he said.
To ensure that water is available throughout the property, Burks
and his buddies have drilled wells.
“During droughts we use wells to get water to wildlife,” he
And if things get too dry, they have equipped a 38-acre lake
so that it can be used to supplement the well water.
“We can just pull the plug, and water can get three miles back
in the swamp to our wildlife,” he explained.
Although the four outdoorsmen have invested a lot of their money
into projects on the property, they also have taken advantage
of federal programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program,
and Ducks Unlimited grants.
McGowan Brake - Morehouse Parish
Monroe’s Kent Anderson was already beginning to amass land in
Anderson started out in 1976 with a 1,200-acre purchase along
the Ouachita River.
|The reputation that Roseland
Plantation has built up attracts hunters from all over the
place. Kenneth Lancaster of Primos arrowed this big buck while
filming a television show on the property.
That property has served as the hub of what has grown to more
than 5,000 acres of prime duck, deer and turkey hunting, said
son Scott Anderson.
“We’re surrounded by timber company land, and Dad has been fortunate
enough to buy land from them as the years have gone by,” the younger
The initial property is actually in the flood plain of the Ouachita
River, with its hallmark being a 900-acre lake offering wonderful
“It’s a resting area,” Scott Anderson said. “They go to the
grocery store in the rice fields and eat and get dirty, and then
they find some clean water like ours to clean up and rest.”
Not a lot has been done to that original piece of property,
since annual flooding makes it difficult to achieve much in the
“We placed the blinds in ’76, and they’re in the same places
today,” Anderson said. “Last year we hunted from the roofs (of
the blinds) until they went under.”
Even the two lodges that sit on a man-made hill overlooking
the lake tend to get water in them from time to time.
“The camps will flood every three to five years. We may have
three years in a row that they flood,” he said.
So there hasn’t been a lot of habitat improvements, other than
food plots for deer, done on that original tract of land.
But since the Andersons began snapping up adjacent timber-company
land, the family has looked for ways to improve the habitat and
provide better feeding and resting areas for wildlife on those
For instance, 60 acres were leveed off and transformed into
a feeding area for ducks.
“We planted it with a wild-rice mixture,” Scott Anderson said.
“We’ve created a 60-acre ring-levee rice field with two blinds.”
Those pit blinds don’t always produce, since ducks have to discover
“We don’t have all of those rice farms around us, so they sort
of have to find it before we get any ducks,” Anderson explained.
But once that happens, the field fills with mallards, gadwalls
and a few wigeons.
Habitat improvements for resident wildlife include the planting
of hardwoods on upwards of 300 acres that once were soybean fields.
“Dad said, ‘I’ll never reap any of the benefits for that, but
this is for you kids and my grandkids,’” the younger Anderson
Also, an extensive system of food plots lush with rye, clover
and wheat has been added to the land to keep deer healthy.
“We’ve got 50 deer stands, and 40 of those stands have food
plots,” Anderson said.
Several acres also are annually planted in sunflowers to accommodate
As the acreage has grown, it became evident that the family,
the members of which continue to work, couldn’t keep up with the
property by themselves.
“We have a caretaker on the property 24/7,” Anderson said. “We
feel that’s a must.”
The caretaker keeps the camp houses, blinds, stands and food
plots up to snuff, and he watches for would-be troublemakers.
“Having someone live on the property helps with the vandalism,”
And, unfortunately, that can be a problem, particularly when
the water rises and makes access from the Ouachita River easy.
“The original property floods when the river hits flood stage,
which is 40 feet in Monroe,” Anderson said.
But during most of the year, the property is pretty inaccessible,
providing a retreat from the corporate hustle and bustle.
The family is now planning to allow some limited access to about
20 people in the form of fishing memberships.
“The fishing is excellent for bass, crappie and bream,” Anderson
Anyone interested can reach Anderson at (318) 362-8301.
Woodlawn Planation - West Feliciana Parish
Mike Wampold wasn’t looking for hunting land when he bought
380 acres in northern West Feliciana Parish in 1988.
“It was a retreat, a place where you could go and relax and
do a little fishing,” The Baton Rouge developer said.
But it was soon clear that the tract of land offered incredible
“I wasn’t a hunter, per se, but it was just flush with deer
because the guy who owned it before me didn’t hunt either,” Wampold
The deer population was so healthy that he couldn’t resist the
“My brother and I would just go out and walk around and shoot
a deer. It was that easy,” Wampold said.
It didn’t take long before the private retreat turned into a
hunting club, and the initial 380 acres expanded to about 1,500.
“Over the years, we have just added to the property,” Wampold
As the acreage grew, Wampold opened up some land that was planted
in pines and dug a few ponds in which bass were stocked.
The result was an oasis, where guests could stand on the back
porch of the camp and take in a stunning view of rolling pastures
and sweeping forests.
By 1991, Wampold and a few close friends had formed Woodlawn
Plantation Hunting Club, but they initially were just after some
“We started out by shooting anything,” Wampold said.
|Not many hunters hit the
woods of Roseland Plantation in October because of the heat,
but the effort can pay off.
Gradually, however, members began thinking about growing larger-racked
bucks, and about seven years ago the club joined DMAP.
Food plots became an important part of their fall and winter
management, and dividends were paid when five years into their
trophy program big bucks began to appear.
About 100 acres of the land once occupied by pines has, at one
time or another, been planted in hardwoods.
The first two attempts, one with acorns and one with very small
seedlings, proved unproductive, so now Wampold has changed tactics
to add mast-bearing trees to the property.
“We’re planting in smaller pods. We’re planting 10 to 12 acres
and watching how the seedlings do, and then we’ll plant another
pod,” he explained.
Wampold’s latest acquisition brought the total to about 3,000,
and no plantings were necessary on this tract of land.
The former Georgia Pacific land was, of course, largely carpeted
in pines, but there was still a good component of hardwoods —
and it was crawling with deer.
Most of the land will be left alone for the time being, but
Wampold said clearings would be made for food plots.
“We’re going to open up a number of one-acre fields to do our
plantings and put our stands,” he said. “We’ll have 12 to 20 one-acre
Wampold still uses the land largely for a retreat from his day-to-day
“I’m still not a hardcore hunter. I might hunt once or twice
a year, but I like to see people go out there and kill their first
deer, or bring kids to hunt,” he said. “I want people to enjoy
Cottonmouth Plantation - St. Charles Parish
Thousands of acres aren’t needed to create a personal paradise,
as Dr. Edmund “Bo” Jeansonne Jr. proved when he bought part of
Mozella Plantation five years ago.
The 215 acres once was mainly cow pastures, but is being transformed
into a complex of stocked ponds, wildlife food plots and shallow-water
waterfowl resting areas.
“With all of these different habitats, it’s just absolutely
perfect for what I wanted to do, which is enhance it for wildlife,”
the Luling orthodontist said.
Jeansonne has brought in officials with the U.S. Corps of Engineers
and the Environmental Protection Agency to advise him on how to
improve the land for wildlife without breaking laws aimed at protecting
And that is a concern, since the property dips into a huge cypress-tupelo
A corridor that stretches 100 to 200 yards wide along the rear
of the tract has been designated as wetlands, so development is
That doesn’t mean Jeansonne’s hands are entirely tied, however.
Several areas within the wetlands corridor have been scraped
to provide better resting areas for waterfowl.
A slight levee also has been added along the front of the corridor
so water is contained in the wetlands portion of the land.
The resulting ponds and shallow-water areas are idyllic, and
Jeansonne has set up blinds to take advantage of the opportunities.
“We get mostly wood ducks,” he said. “We don’t have a bunch,
but we have enough that if we hunt a little bit here and a little
bit over there, we can have fun.”
He and buddy Jerry Deselle have even cleared out small areas
inside the cypress-tupelo swamp to accommodate duck hunting.
To help maintain the wood duck population, nesting houses have
been placed around the corridor.
“We put up 20 wood duck boxes with the Boy Scouts,” Jeansonne
said. “That was their Eagle project.”
Again, most of their hunting is for woodies, but occasionally
other species move in.
“After Hurricane Georges, we had 6 inches of water (over much
of the property), and we probably had 600 teal,” Jeansonne said.
The front of the land is higher, allowing three ponds to be
dug. Two of these ponds are still under construction, but they
all already offer some pretty good fishing.
The area between these ponds and the wetlands corridor is where
Jeansonne plants his food plots.
The green patches are a mix of sorghum, milo, corn and other
“We just mix them up and throw them out, and they come up,”
The resulting growth attracts doves and deer — and the hogs
that someone trapped and released on adjacent property.
The hogs have become a pest, tearing up the food plots and destroying
feeders placed to attract deer. A group of hunters, consequently,
have decided to make a dent in their population.
But mixed in with the tracks of the hogs are a good number of
“We don’t have a lot of deer, so we don’t shoot many,” Jeansonne
said. “We try to shoot 8-points or better.”
A few does have been taken, but mainly the hunters are waiting
for the 4- and 6-pointers they have been watching over the past
couple of years to mature.
Jeansonne said he’s fortunate because the land is backed up
by the cypress-tupelo swamp, which is huge and almost unhunted.
“There’s no pressure back there. You just can’t really hunt
it,” he said.
Jeansonne already is making plans for the future of the property,
ensuring that it will forever remain a refuge for wildlife.
He is doing this by enrolling it in the Wetlands Mitigation
Bank, which provides tax breaks to landowners who commit to protection
of their wetlands.
“Once you commit to the mitigation bank, that’s in perpetuity,”
|Don’t laugh when you read
that all but the perimeter of Roseland Plantation is restricted
to bow hunting. The fertile lands gave up 16 Pope & Young
deer last year, thanks to enhancements made by the landowners.
Jeansonne’s plan is to have the roughly 100 acres that will be
enrolled in the mitigation banks scraped and planted in trees.
“Eighty percent will be in oaks. That’s the high ground,” he
said. “The other 20 percent that represents true wetlands will
be planted in cypress.”
Although that will still leave about half of the acreage not
controlled as part of the mitigation bank, Jeansonne said he takes
comfort in the fact that none of the land can be sold for development.
“It has been designated by the corps as either wetlands or mixed
wetlands, every square inch,” he explained. “That means it can’t
Kappa Loyal - St. Charles Parish
The land wasn’t in great shape, but New Orleans orthopedic surgeon
Dr. Greg Kinnett could see the potential.
“I had hunted around here, and had actually been on the property,”
What he knew was that the 10,000 acres was situated squarely
in a major flyway of the state.
“It’s right between the Mississippi River over there and Bayou
Des Allemands over there, and the birds fly right through here,”
So he jumped at the opportunity to snap up the 10,000 acres
about 1 1/2 years back.
That’s when the work began.
Water lilies, fouchette and water-control problems typified
the tract of land.
Kinnett immediately had four water-control structures constructed
around the property to prevent water from being sucked into the
waterways south of the property.
“You get those northeasters and it can blow all the water out,”
The structures allowed about 20 inches of water to be held on
“We’re able to hold water and grow the vegetation we wanted,”
But first, he had to get rid of the unwanted vegetation.
“If it grows up with water lilies and fouchette, the natural
grasses can’t grow,” he said.
An aggressive herbicidal program ensued, and now there is barely
a water lily or mat of fouchette to be found.
What that left was room for coontail, widgeon grass, hydrilla
and potato weed to thrive.
“Now we have mats of the vegetation we want,” Kinnett said.
In late summer the property was also covered in granvollais
and arrowhead grass, but those plants die off in the fall, leaving
nothing but a carpet of duck food.
There are 30 blinds scattered about the property, and Kinnett
offers them for lease.
“I wanted people to be able to come out and enjoy this land,”
The price tag isn’t cheap — $10,000 per blind for the season
— but almost everything is included.
“You don’t need anything but your gun, shells and a license,”
The arrangement is pretty unique.
There are no sleeping quarters, so the lodge is a meeting and
eating place from which hunters leave and to which they return.
But the lack of sleeping quarters isn’t that big of a deal,
since the lodge is only about 35 minutes from New Orleans and
Houma and an hour from Baton Rouge.
The blinds, which are built, brushed and maintained by Kinnett
and his crew, belong to the lessee for the year.
“If you don’t hunt it on a particular day, it doesn’t get hunted,”
Kinnett said. “It’s your blind. You can store things in it if
To ensure that blinds are productive, pressure is limited.
“We only hunt Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during the mornings
only,” he said. “Ducks get to rest Monday and Tuesdays, and they
get hunted on Wednesdays. They rest Thursdays and Fridays and
get hunted on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Decoys are placed around each blind according to the wind direction.
Hunters are dropped off and picked up via mud boats.
“We take all the work out of hunting,” Kinnett said.
The blinds are built to blend into the environment, with live
cane growing around the structures to hide hunters.
Placement of the blinds makes them appear to be natural tufts
of high-growing vegetation.
“You’re not just stuck out there. We have natural distractions,”
Guides are even available to those who aren’t comfortable hunting
After returning from the morning hunt, ducks are cleaned while
the hunters enjoy a full brunch.
“When they leave, the ducks are ready for the oven,” Kinnett
In other words, this is full-service hunting on a piece of property
that is groomed year round for that very reason.
Blinds are still available. For information, call (504) 628-3305
or (504) 899-1547.