Article on duck hunters shooting big buck generates questions

This is the rack of the 18-point Evangeline Parish buck illegally killed with bird shot by duck hunters.
This is the rack of the 18-point Evangeline Parish buck illegally killed with bird shot by duck hunters.

LDWF captain explains conflicts in laws governing the hunting of the two species

A story last week on two duck hunters in Evangeline Parish who were cited for allegedly taking a monster 18-point buck illegally with bird shot generated lots of interest — and more than 100 comments on Louisiana Sportsman’s Facebook page and thousands and thousands of views on the website.

Some folks didn’t know it was illegal to shoot a buck with fine shot. Others felt the young men should have been cut a little slack because it was the deer of a lifetime, and it was shot during gun season.

But Capt. Jesse Savoie, who heads up Region 5 for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the southwest corner of the state where the incident occurred, said the laws for hunting ducks and deer are pretty clear.

And it’s tough to combine the two activities without being in violation.

“They were duck hunting floating a bayou, which is common up there in Evangeline Parish,” Savoie said. “So they were obligated to abide by migratory game bird rules and regulations. The top three of those would be having a basic and state duck license, having a federal duck stamp and being in possession of non-toxic shot only.”

That means being in possession of buck shot while you’re duck hunting would put you in violation of the steel-shot only migratory bird law. One of the charges the young men face is hunting deer using illegal methods — in this case bird shot.

And laws for legally harvesting deer also are pretty clear, he said.

“Deer can only be taken with centerfire rifles, and when utilizing shotguns, they can only be taken with slugs or buckshot,” Savoie said. “End of story.”

This photo provided by the LDWF shows the giant 18-point Evangeline Parish buck illegally harvested with bird shot by two duck hunters on Nov. 10.
This photo provided by the LDWF shows the giant 18-point Evangeline Parish buck illegally harvested with bird shot by two duck hunters on Nov. 10.

And even on private land, when traveling stand to stand, hunters are required to wear  a minimum of a hunter’s orange or blaze pink cap. Obviously, no one duck hunts wearing a hunter’s orange or blaze pink cap.

“There are certain state regulations that apply to deer, and there are pronounced federal regulations that apply to waterfowl hunting. The regulations for the two activities have inherent conflict built in,” he said. “You don’t wear orange caps to go waterfowl hunting, and when you take into account possession of lead shot while duck hunting, buck shot is lead shot.”

Meat from the deer taken on Nov. 10 near Mamou was seized and given to a food pantry for the needy or another charitable recipient, Savoie said. As far as the buck’s head, it’s currently in the Region 5 freezer awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings.

“The court will ultimately decide on the final disposition of it,” he said, noting if it’s ultimately forfeited to the department it would be used for educational purposes.

The best solution, Savoie said, would be to pick one activity — either duck hunting or deer hunting. If you decide to combine the two, the letter of the law doesn’t really give you much leeway.

And he also cautioned that when floating bayous in situations like this one, hunters should make sure they’re abiding by Louisiana trespass laws: Transitioning from hunting ducks to deer could put the hunter in violation if, for example, they had to enter someone’s property to retrieve a deer.

So if you’re duck hunting, you can’t be in possession of lead shot. And if you’re deer hunting with a shotgun, only slugs and buck shot are legal ways to kill a deer — and you need to be wearing hunter’s orange.

“When you’re trying to combine these two activities together, there is conflict. And it’s on the hunter to adapt to the laws …,” he said. “So take the necessary precautions and be ready to maintain compliance throughout, no matter which activity you’re doing.”

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About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.