NATCHITOCHES — Reese Blakeney has entered the state’s Youth Journalism Contest in past years, and his ability to put an outdoors story on paper has placed him among the top three for his previous entries.

Then there’s 2017, and Blakeney’s “A Better Squirrel Dog” sent him to the top of the heap. The 16-year-old’s near 1,000-word essay won the Essay Division in this year’s YJC statewide competition. Living in Leesville, Blakeney attends Blue Pine Academy.

“This young writer’s ability to weave humor into a story shows a natural talent for writing,” one judge commented. “This is more than a hunting story. It’s the ability for a young hunter to absorb the comings and goings at a camp, and the intricacies of the bond between a hunter and his hunting dog. It was so very well written.”

Another perennial writer who has grabbed spots among the finalists in recent years, 12-year-old James Corley Sanders, from Trout and a Jena Junior High School student, finished second in the judging for his essay entitled, “Gobble, Gobble. Gone!” a turkey hunt he made last year with his grandfather.

Brothers Bradford Morrison, 16, and William Morrison, 14, tied for third in the Essay contest. They live in Natchitoches and attend Strong Foundations Academy.

Bradford's piece carried the title, “Superman vs. Spiderman,” a description of a hunt with his grandmother when a veteran hunter got tied up in early-season spider webs. William’s “The Brave Hunter,” chronicled his encounter with a feral hog, a boar that sent him back up into his tree stand.

For the first time, the photography contest was divided in age groups, ages 7-13 in a Junior category, and ages 14-18 making up the Senior category.

Robby Ferrante, a 12th-grader at St. Paul’s in Covington, took first in Senior Photography with an image he titled, “Splendor in November.”

After their Essay honors, the Morrison brothers showed up again, this time with Bradford Morrison taking second in Senior Photography with his photo he labeled, “Osprey Home Improvement,” a dramatic image of a pair of ospreys and chicks in a nest.

William Morrison’s “Little Bird,” was a strong third in this category.

Ben Wroten, a 9-year-old of Denham Springs, captured the image of an antelope in grass so high it almost obscured the animal. Wroten’s “In the Tall Grass,” was judged tops in Junior Photography.

Second and third, respectively, went to St. Aloysius Catholic 8-year-old student Hope Lemoine of Baton Rouge, and James Corley Sanders struck again with an image of an alligator stretched out in an abandoned boat. He named in photo, “Gone Fishing.”

“For such young eyes, the top entries in Junior photo were studio quality,” one judge wrote. “All three photos are excellent.”

Lemoine’s “Suppertime,” fell one point short of Wroten’s entry.

The youngsters were honored during Saturday night’s banquet, the headliner of the annual Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association convention. All essays and photos will be available later this month on the LOWA website: laoutdoorwriters.com.

Lottery hunts

State Wildlife and Fisheries has set a Sept. 1 deadline for applications to enter a lottery for disabled veterans and physically challenged hunters.

The upcoming season’s deer hunts for disabled veterans will be on the Camp Beauregard Wildlife Management Area, and physically challenged hunters will take to the Sabine and Floy McElroy WMAs.

Details on the qualifications, application requirements and dates of the hunts are listed on the application forms, which are available on the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/lottery-hunts or from one of the agency’s eight field offices. A $5 fee must be sent along with each application, and hunters will be selected by a computer drawing.

Applications will be accepted in Room 442 of the LDWF state headquarters at 2000 Quail Drive in Baton Rouge, or can be mailed to: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000.