Union Parish deer hunting No. 1 again

Football talk dominates conversations on Friday and Saturday nights this time of year, but deer hunting is on everybody’s mind come Saturday morning.

And, just like with football, everybody wants to be No. 1.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries annual deer harvest report, the deer-hunting equivalent of a championship has been settled without a playoff the last seven years in a row.

“It has been Union Parish,” LDWF’s Scott Durham said. “It is a large, rural, heavily forested parish with abundant and varied habitat and natural food sources.

“The passion is pretty high. Not only (are there) numbers (of deer), but there are a lot of good deer killed there.”

Durham has never hunted Union, but he helped administer the Northwest Louisiana deer telemetry project and worked the managed hunts at the now-closed Union WMA in the past.

So he knows the deer habitat well.

“The most-productive habitats are the native mixed pine/hardwoods where prescribed burning might still be occurring, along with regular thinnings to open the forest canopy,” Durham said. “This allows sunlight to reach the ground and stimulates growth of preferred deer browse plants such as elderberry, greenbrier, grapes, blackberries, blueberries and forbs.”

One of the challenges for Union Parish hunters is managing the herd. It’s always good to try to harvest trophy bucks, but with all the woods and cover, deer populations can get out of hand.

“It is very important to keep the herd balanced with the habitat and to maintain good sex ratios,” Durham said. “That way deer have enough to eat and most adult does are bred during their first estrus cycle.”

The veteran biologist lamented the closure of the 10,000-acre Union WMA, but said he anticipated the area’s deer herd would remain strong.

“Hunters lost a great public area that was instrumental in developing harvest recommendations in pine-dominant habitats within the DMAP program, produced thousands of deer for hunters over the years and was an important outdoor classroom for university students,” Durham noted.

But he pointed out that the parish still holds more prime public deer hunting than many other regions of the state because of more than 20,000 acres of prime woodlands in the D’Arbonne and Upper Ouachita national wildlife refuges.

About Kinny Haddox 574 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.