These three WMAs are a bow hunters dream

Tote your bow to any of these WMAs, and you won’t care for one moment that you don’t have a high-dollar lease.

Louisiana deer hunters can get a little pugnacious when somebody starts talking about how good deer hunting is at their local wildlife management area. No matter how long their laundry list of logic may be, it mainly boils down to them not wanting any additional hunting pressure where they frequently hunt.

I can understand that. After investing so much time and money to find a good spot at a tract of public hunting land, I wouldn’t want a bunch of boors be-bopping under my stand at first light trying to find a spot they had just read about in a magazine.

But let’s face it, public hunting areas are just that — public. That means anybody can use them anyhow they see fit as long as they are doing so within the rules and regulations put out by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

You don’t like that? You want it all to yourself?

Well, as my late father-in-law was fond of saying, “Want in one hand and poop in the other and see which one fills up first.”

If you don’t like that your public-land hunt might be ruined by a bunch of yahoos, your only options are to buy private land, lease land from somebody else, join a hunting club or figure out a different way to deer hunt Louisiana’s WMAs.

One different way of hunting that Louisiana’s public-land deer hunters may want to explore is bowhunting during the state’s early archery season. Depending on which WMA you hunt, the advantages of bowhunting public land before the gun hunters come out range from less pressure to easier-to-pattern deer to pre-rut buck movement.

Bowhunting during the early archery season at WMAs might not be effortless, but it’s about the easiest chance you’re going to get all year long to bag a deer with your bow on public land.

Which WMAs should you hunt for the best chance of early archery season success? I put that question out to the wildlife biologists that are responsible for overseeing public land all across Louisiana. Here’s how they responded.

Clear Creek

Wendell Smith, biologist supervisor for the Lake Charles LDWF office, pointed out that Clear Creek WMA in Vernon Parish is a good tract of public land where bowhunters can score in the early archery season.

“It has 53,000 acres,” Smith said. “The deer herd is very healthy, and fawn production averages 1.5 fawns per female.

“Deer weights have remained steady for the past few years, which was attributed to reducing the herd below the carrying capacity each year. We had a total of 403 deer harvested last hunting season with an overall success ratio of 1 deer per 18 efforts.”

Bow season actually starts in September when high temperatures suppress deer movement somewhat, but Smith says that deer really start moving by the end of September.

“Peak pre-rutting behavior will begin the second week of October,” he said. “The peak rut will occur the last week of October through the second week of November.

“All of Clear Creek gets hunted, but fewer people are in the woods during bow season as opposed to gun season — no problem finding a place to bowhunt and not be disturbed by another hunter.”

Hunters tend to gravitate to the creek bottoms, but backing off these areas and hunting clear cuts and bottom transition zones can also be successful. Last archery season, there were 33 bow kills from 2,160 efforts, and you can bet those 33 hunters didn’t just show up to hunt.

“Bring lots of water and stay hydrated,” Smith advised, “and do your homework. Have a map of the area on hand when you’re scouting, and keep a GPS with you to mark waypoints of promising areas.”

Editor’s note: This article is part of the Free and Easy feature in the October issue of Louisiana Sportsman. To find out about the other two WMAs, you can download a digital edition of this issue right to your computer or smartphone.

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About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at chrisginn.com.

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