Talkin' Outdoors

When we get to this time of year, things start happening fast. Better football teams like LA Tech are moving up the charts with dreams of making the playoffs growing more real by the day; diminishing for those like LSU that stubbed their toes along the way.

For the hunter, the pace it stepping up as well. For the deer hunter in particular, things have really started hopping. For example, archery season has been going on for a couple of weeks and just now, gun hunting for a certain segment of hunters has already kicked in. Youth hunting on private lands was launched October 11 and with them, another segment was allowed to hunt early this year for the first time. Honorably discharged veterans who are Louisiana residents joined the youngsters on October 11 for a week of hunting.

Then come October 18 in Area 2, which takes in the majority of north Louisiana, hunting with primitive firearms opens for a week before still hunting with regular firearms begins on October 25. This season runs until December 3 when still hunters will be joined by dog hunters with season lasting until January 11.

We recently visited with the state’s top deer professional, Scott Durham, who is Deer Study Leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Durham painted a fairly rosy picture for the deer situation, not only in northern Louisiana but around the state.

“I look for a good year in store for this upcoming season primarily because we had good rainfall all over the state this spring and summer. Not only did this provide ample succulent forage for deer, it improved the reproduction of deer as well. We should see a good fawn crop with the type of recruitment we like to see,” said Durham.

“We have gone through a decade of less-than-desirable moisture years and this reduced recruitment for several years. I look for all this to turn around this year. We had a good deer harvest last season and with a good fall winter, I expect to see a good harvest this season,” Durham added.

“A good fawn crop this year means an ample supply of 1 ½ year old deer next season with an increased number of 2 ½ year old deer the following year, provided hunters are willing to pass up young bucks giving them the opportunity to have another year of growth.”

With the long range weather forecast calling for a cold and wet winter this year in the south, Durham had a word for hunters out in the woods during such conditions.

“Colder temperatures make the deer more active. They’re like us; we don’t like to exert too much energy when temperatures are too warm and neither do the deer. A few hard freezes burns back the vegetation and makes acorns more critical, meaning that deer will be moving around more to locate these food sources,” he added.

Regarding the possibility of encountering mature bucks, Durham said that the best bucks continue to be taken on some of the more fertile lands.

“Those areas along the Mississippi and Red River flood plains have always produced better deer simply because what they eat there is more nutritious than it is in the piney woods. However,” Durham noted, “a good buck can come from just about anywhere in the state but in general, not with the frequency that the river bottom lands produce.”

With deer hunting on the plate now, hunters need to be on the lookout for what these favorable conditions have to offer the hunter this year. Do your homework and spend time on the stand, especially should the predicted chilly wet weather arrive. You could be bringing home something special to show your hunting buddies.