Biologists envision new deer regulations

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When you mess with hunting privileges and traditions, you may as well be poking a stick at a beehive.

That’s what Department of Wildlife and Fisheries staffers Dave Moreland and Tommy Prickett are discovering after coming up with a pair of proposals that are as visionary as they are controversial.

Actually, Moreland and Prickett probably already knew that some hunters would throw their hands in the air after hearing the proposals, but the biologists made them anyway, knowing that our state’s deer herd would benefit in the long run.

The first proposal affects only hunters in Area 6. It calls for, among other things, a movement from the traditional opening date of archery season — Oct. 1 — to Nov. 1.

The move is necessary, the biologists say, because recent studies have found that breeding occurs in the area as late as Feb. 22. That means that many fawns aren’t being born until August or September, and they’re a month old or less when the hunting season opens.

Many hunters are ethical enough to refrain from shooting a doe being trailed by spotted fawns, but not all of them are. And does will sometimes leave their fawns to search for food or other safe areas, making themselves vulnerable to being shot by even the most ethical hunters.

If a doe has two young fawns, and she gets shot, that means the death of three deer. That may be a good thing in some counties in Alabama, but it’s not in most of Area 6.

The move may be justified, but it has infuriated many Area 6 hunters because the biologists’ initial proposal calls for all deer hunting to end on Feb. 2. That means hunters there would have one month fewer to chase deer than other hunters across the state.

This early closing was warranted because February is normally the month reserved for rabbit hunters. Allowing deer hunters into the woods when beagles are chasing rabbits would cause too many user-conflicts, the biologists felt.

But most deer hunting is done on private land, where individual clubs and landowners set rules as to who can hunt when. The rabbit hunter/deer hunter conflicts may prove to be an issue only on wildlife management areas.

So now, Moreland says, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, which will make the ultimate decision, appears to be leaning toward a Feb. 28 closure of Area 6 archery season.

Area 6 hunters ought to take the proposal and run with it, since it’ll ultimately mean more deer on most leases and WMAs without a cost of days. I don’t hunt in Area 6, but if I did, I’d be sure to let the commissioners know how much I unequivocally support the proposal, so long as the lost days in October are added in February.

The second proposal calls for a statewide tagging system. The biologists were set to make the proposal at the March commission meeting, but were told ahead of time by DWF lawyers that only the state legislature can make the change.

Unfortunately, however, legislators can’t vote on the proposal this year because they are bound to a fiscal-only session. But hopefully hunters will put pressure on their legislators now to get them to approve the measure next year. It would greatly improve deer hunting for all of us.

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About Todd Masson 614 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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