Trip to Tensas NWR gives a glimpse at Louisiana’s unique outdoors

Numerous deer can be seen on the Greenlea Wildlife Loop. (Photo by Terry L. Jones)

One of the favorite things my wife, Carol, and I do in April is to take a drive through the 74,622-acre Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge to look for deer, alligators, bears and the many other creatures that call Tensas home.

The Tensas refuge is located southeast of Delhi and can be accessed from U.S. Highway 80 and  65. Created in 1980, it is a popular destination for hunters, fishermen, birdwatchers and wildlife photographers.

Driving south into the refuge on the Quebec Road from U.S. 80 will bring you to a refuge check-in station where you have to fill out a visitor’s card. The well-maintained gravel Mill Road goes west from there and is a good place to see deer, turkeys and raccoons. One of our regular stops on it is a series of barrow pits in a long, low spot called Africa bottom.

On warm April days, the alligators congregate at the barrow pits and alongside the road to sun. On one occasion, we counted 15 alligators about 18 inches long lined up on the barrow pit’s bank.

The refuge visitor center is located on the Quebec Road, a few miles south of the check-in station. It has displays explaining the history of the area and animal mounts to show the various wildlife that are native to Tensas. It’s a great family experience.

An elevated wooden walkway behind the visitor center snakes a few hundred yards through the woods to an open field. There is a viewing tower there from which we almost always see deer, and occasionally turkeys, ducks and bear.

One memorable spring day, Carol and I counted approximately 50 deer feeding in the field. On another occasion, a large black bear waddled down the edge of the timber and stopped periodically to stand on its hind legs and eat acorns from the oak trees.

Drive the Loop

Be sure also to drive the three-mile-long Greenlea Wildlife Loop located behind the visitor center. Much of the land along the loop is planted in winter wheat every year, which draws out herds of deer to feed. Some nice trophy bucks are often seen when driving the loop.

One of the highlights of our April trips is stopping at the wildlife loop’s Rainey Lake parking lot and walking out to the snowy egret rookery. The short trail leads to a covered viewing blind that provides a closeup view of the turquoise-colored eggs and the fuzzy chicks after they hatch.

We then walk about a quarter of a mile to a dock on Rainey Lake and use our binoculars to scan the bank looking for the huge alligators that are often sunning there.

Poverty Point State Park is located a couple of miles north of Delhi and a stay there will enhance a visit to the Tensas River NWR. Poverty Point is a 2,700-acre lake known for its excellent crappie, catfish, and bass fishing. The 3.84-pound state record black crappie was caught there in 2010, and April is a good time to catch large spawning crappie and bass.

Poverty Point offers two excellent multi-boat boat launches, fish cleaning stations and plenty of places to fish from the bank. There are also two-bedroom cabins built over the water, RV hookups, campsites and a nature trail.

For golfers, the park is home to the 18-hole Black Bear Golf Club, which has been ranked as the best public golf course in Louisiana. The 17-room Black Bear Lodge located there is another excellent place to stay.

About Terry L. Jones 114 Articles
A native of Winn Parish, Terry L. Jones has enjoyed hunting and fishing North Louisiana’s woods and water for 50 years. He lives in West Monroe with his wife, Carol.