Big deer to be had on WMAs

Louisiana’s wildlife management areas offer some of the best public hunting in the South. One reason for this is the diverse habitat types represented by the 51 WMAs listed in the 2010-11 Hunting Regulations publication.

This diversity includes bottomland hardwood forests in the northeast quarter of the state and along the Mississippi River, bottomland hardwood forests and cypress swamp forests in the Atchafalaya Basin, river bottom hardwood forests and cypress swamp forests in the Pearl River Basin, mixed pine-hardwood forests in the northwest and western regions of the state and upland hardwood forest in the Tunica Hills.

If someone wants to hunt but doesn’t own or lease land, there is no excuse for staying home with all the deer habitat available to the public.

Good deer populations can be found on these WMAs. For more than 50 years, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has been conducting annual deer hunts on these areas. Most Baby Boomer hunters grew up during the era of the managed deer hunt, where daily permits were issued to hunters prior to daylight, and all harvested deer were checked.

Over time and due to budget restraints, managed deer hunts became self-clearing permit hunts, but most areas still operated mandatory deer-check stations where hunters would check out their harvested deer.

However, during the 2009 managed deer hunts, areas were operated under a self-clearing deer check-out system, and according to LDWF biologists, it didn’t work very well; hunters didn’t check deer out as anticipated, consequently for the 2010 managed deer hunts, hunters will still use the self-clearing permit stations but a mandatory deer check will be in place during most of the November hunts.

During the 2009 WMA managed deer hunts, there were 2,603 deer harvested, according to the report that biologist Scott Durham put together. The success rate was one deer per 10.6 hunter efforts, which is quite good.

While most of the good bucks are harvested on the WMAs during the rut, some nice deer are often killed on the managed hunt days. Ben Young killed a 136 6/8-inch typical on a November managed hunt on Red River WMA. During the late bow season that occured on Sherburne WMA during their late rut, Floyd Coye killed a 140 4/8 typical with his crossbow on Feb. 13.

These two bucks are proof that the WMAs do produce quality deer.

Editor’s Note: This story appears as part of a feature in Louisiana Sportsman’s November issue. To ensure you don’t miss any information-packed issues in the future, click here to have each magazine delivered right to your mail box.

About David Moreland 246 Articles
David Moreland is a retired wildlife biologist with LDWF, having served as the State Deer Biologist for 13 years and as Chief of the Wildlife Division for three years. He and his wife Prudy live in rural East Feliciana Parish.