His phone call came with all the usual angst of a pensive deer hunter.
“Where are the deer?”
It’s not that Jimmy Robinson wanted for action. He’d already taken a bucks and doe in the during the early November chill that swept across southeast Louisiana. But the days after Thanksgiving had become his can’t-miss time, a period when he knew he’d been seeing the biggest deer that roamed the swamps.
The explanation was simple: The warming trend that set in last week came when the moon was big and bright, a combination that allows deer to feed at night. The warmth meant deer didn’t need to move to get the calories needed to keep them warm when temperatures drop into the 30s.
Robinson’s tune changed Tuesday after a scouting trip.
“It’s on. I know it’s a little early, but I saw deer moving today, and not because of the cold front,” he said. “I saw a buck I’m going to hunt hard until I take him. He was moving along a scrape line, and that means we’re getting ready for the rut.”
Usually “the rut” happens in areas around the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers much later than other locations in the state. The primary rut, a breeding period that can last 6-8 days, comes to the south-central and southeastern parishes near Christmas. A secondary rutting period follows about a month later when bucks seek out any of the does that weren’t bred in the primary stage.
Robinson said he’d put one of his two stands along a line he’d seen bucks use in past seasons, but this buck was setting out on another path away from the spot he calls his “rutting stand.” His other stand, near a food plot, had produced the 165-pound, 6-point buck and the 130-pound doe he took during the seven-day primitive weapons season.
“I’m going Saturday to scout out his line. I know he’s marking his territory. He was a long way away, but from the way he was moving and what he was doing it was clear he was getting ready for the rut,” Robinson said.
Other reports from the Felicianas and the bottomlands across the Florida Parishes indicate the deer have been feeding heavily on white oak acorns. Several hunters said they’ve taken deer with cow oak (swamp chestnut oaks) acorns in their stomachs, but that heavy feeding has reduced those provisions.
Wildlife and Fisheries announced earlier this week that waters off Elmer’s Island and Grand Terre Islands reopened to all recreational and commercial fishing Wednesday. These areas had been closed to all but recreational rod-and-reel finfish take since late May 2010 because of residual oil during and after the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Areas reopened include state waters seaward one quarter mile from the shoreline of the Grand Terre Islands, and state waters seaward one-quarter mile from the shoreline from Caminada Pass westward to Belle Pass, but remain closed to all activity except “recreational and charterboat angling commercial fishing within a 100-yard buffer from any shoreline in Bay Jimmy and Bay Batiste areas.”