Most of deer-hunting closure to last just one week, the LDWF says

Newest announcement allows deer ‘to acclimate … to their new temporary habitats,’ agency head says

The deer-hunting closure in the Mississippi River delta will only last a week, with the exception of batture land that will remain closed until further notice, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced tonight.

The closure, which stretches from Vidalia to the Arkansas state line between the Mississippi state line and Highway 65, will begin 30 minutes after sunset on Jan. 3 and last until 30 minutes before sunset on Jan. 11, the LDWF said.

Outgoing LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said in a news release that the week-long closure would provide protection for deer as the animals moved from inside the levees to adjacent land outside the batture.

“This closure will give the deer a week to acclimate and adjust to their new temporary habitats,’’ Barham said. “We want to get hunters back as soon as possible but, at the same time, it’s important to let the deer get settled after being forced from their normal home ranges.’’

This is the third announcement related to the closures, which is in response to a rapidly rising Mississippi River. The first came Monday, when the agency said the closure would go into effect at sunset today (Dec. 29).

That was followed today by the announcement that the closure would be postponed until sunset on Jan. 3.

While LDWF officials have said the closure was to prevent over-harvest of deer crossing the levees as the Mississippi River spilled out of its banks to flood the batture, retired Wildlife Division head David Moreland told that he believes the action “was one of those political things” driven by requests from monied hunters whose hunting properties are inside the levees.

“What you’re dealing with is a lot of big-money clubs, and they don’t want people running around shooting ‘their’ deer,” said Moreland, who served as the state’s deer study leader for decades before leading the LDWF’s Wildlife Division. “When (deer) leave their property and get on the other side of the levee, they don’t want ‘their’ deer being shot.”

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Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.