If you’re hunting hard, seeing few deer and not putting meat in the freezer, then you have two options.
You can quit hunting and end the frustration, or move. OK, not to another parish or state, but think about moving your stand, because if you had good hunts 5, 10 or 15 years ago, odds are deer are around. You just need to find them.
Mike Steele, WBRZ’s Capital reporter and an avid deer hunter, last week talked about this problem.
Eric Sharp, the Detroit Free Press’ outdoors writer, mentioned the same topic in his weekly column.
Steele said he was hunting a long-standing stand at the edge of a field one year and was seeing deer, but was unable to get a shot. The deer were crossing in a far corner, showing for only a couple of seconds before disappearing into the woods.
“I moved,” Steele said. “The other guys at the camp wondered why I did it, why I would abandon a spot that was so good.”
“Was” is the operative word. Steele isn’t alone: Camps’ old-timers get agitated when anyone goes against their convention, takes the situation by the horns and makes what they consider to be a rash move.
What some hunters ignore is that the habitat around their stands has changed. But because those changes have come slowly, incrementally over the years, the changes aren’t apparent. If a stand has been in the same place for 10 years, then that’s 10 years of growth that’s possibly changed what’s in the 300-yard circle around a stand. It’s 10 years of hunters showing up in that stand, which could alter deer movement.
Steele scouted that far corner of that field, found a spot for another stand, and took deer within a few days.
Sharp’s advice? “Take 30 minutes to walk the surrounding 100 yards and look for signs that deer are still using it. If you don’t find any, give serious consideration to taking the rest of the day to look for a spot that at least has an active deer trail or two.”
About two weeks after a fire shut down F.S. Williams Country Store in Ethel, Ray Williams and his family are making lemonade from lemons.
Hundreds of his friends showed up to help in the past few days: Allowed to salvage thousands of items from one of the more unusual stores in the area, the Williams family was opened Saturday with a waiting line stretched darned near to La. 19.
“I can’t tell you what it means to have so many people we’ve known for so many years to be here,” Williams said Saturday morning. “It means a lot of our family that people have showed up to help us.”
The store, which sold items as varied as bologna, cheese, bread, shoes, hunting boots, bullets, camouflage and heavy work clothing — in sizes found only there — will be open in limited space Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week with discounts up to 75 percent.
The Williams family’s establishment was the one-stop spot for East Feliciana Parish, and the Williamses are first-rate outdoorsmen. Their family was the first to step up to support Hunters for the Hungry in the Capital City area and has supported that effort for nearly 20 years.
Come Monday, duck hunters give ducks a rest. The West Zone’s first split will be over, and East Zone hunters are getting ready for their new 51-day, straight-shot second split that opens Saturday.
State biologist Shane Granier’s weekly report should give West Zone hunters something to think about when their season reopens Dec. 17.
Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area near the mouth of the Mississippi River is holding enough ducks to give hunters their limits. Teal have dominated the take throughout the 20-plus-days’ first split. Takes from the Atchafalaya Delta and Pointe-aux-Chenes WMAs lagged, but considering the checks were made Wednesday, when hunters were few and far between, winds were down and there was a high sky, averages of nearly three ducks per hunter makes for above-average public hunting. Gray ducks and mallards are showing up at Atchafalaya, and grays and teal dominated at Pointe-aux-Chenes.
Ducks Unlimited biologist Mike Checkett reported that recent rains have helped Arkansas hunters. He said specklebelly goose numbers are “off the charts” there and that duck hunters are seeing lots of ducks, but few mallards. His report listed counts from the northern reaches (Minnesota) of the Mississippi River. “Numbers of mallards and total ducks are above the 10-year average on the Mississippi River,” he wrote.