State’s deer herd losing a very good friend

Jesse Brumfield’s never caught or killed anything that he hasn’t earned.

I have some bad news.It’s really bad if you’re a deer.

Dave Moreland is retiring this month. Who’s Dave Moreland? Well, if you’ve been a Louisiana Sportsman reader for more than about five minutes, you’ve certainly seen Moreland’s name — many times.

The magazine’s deer-hunting writers all have Moreland on speed dial, and it’s a number they punch over and over again this season of the year. And the reason is simple: Moreland knows more about deer hunting and deer biology than Barbara Walters knows about facelifts.

He’s influenced deer management in Louisiana more than anyone else in the last two decades, and no one can take more credit for the deer rebound in our state than him.

As self-effacing and unassuming as he is, Moreland would shrug that off, but it’s not an overstatement.

Moreland grew up on the shores of Lake Bistineau in the 1950s and ’60s, and spent his free time chasing anything that swam, fly, crept or crawled. He remembers being enraptured anytime the local district biologist stopped by school to give a science lecture on wildlife or fisheries biology.

“But it wasn’t until 11th grade, when people started asking me what I’d study in college, that I realized, ‘Wait, you can actually go to school for this stuff?’” Moreland said.

That’s precisely what he did, finally ending up with a Master’s degree in biology from Northeast Louisiana University. Soon after, in 1976, he went to work for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as a biologist in District 7.

While earning his graduate degree, Moreland focused on plant taxonomy, and that knowledge would serve him well in his new role at the department.

“When I came to the district, there was not much deer management,” he said. “That was kind of the early stages of people getting interested in deer management.”

So Moreland spent much of his time traveling around the Florida Parishes and discussing habitat with hunting clubs. The hunters were like sponges looking to soak up every bit of knowledge they could glean that would help them to actually influence the health and size of their deer herds. It was a novel concept at the time.

Moreland’s work ethic and affability were quickly recognized, and he was promoted to district supervisor after only two years on the job.

But he didn’t stop there. Moreland instituted the Deer Management Assistance Program in District 7 in 1979-80, and that program went statewide in 1981. It has been an unrivaled success.

Moreland also vigorously promoted the state’s Big Game Records Program, which has helped demonstrate to hunters here and across the country that Louisiana does, in fact, grow big bucks.

In 1992, Moreland was promoted to deer study leader and, in 2004, became the head of the entire Wildlife Division.

But now, after 31 years with the department, he’s stepping down to devote himself to his family — and to intensive management of the deer herd on his East Feliciana land.

“I didn’t get to hunt much the last two years,” he said. “That’ll change this fall.”

The LWFC should not let this occasion pass without highlighting the merits and honoring the devotion of Dave Moreland.

Public servants are frequently chided as being lazy, difficult and disgruntled.

For the 31 years he’s been with the department, Moreland has been the polar opposite.

He leaves some very large shoes to be filled.

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About Todd Masson 600 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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