Photo provided by GRANT GOINGS Grant Goings bagged this giant 9-point buck on his first-ever hunting trip with his father, Grant, and family frinds George Ott and Frank Cavaretta during the recent deer season. Former state Wildlife Division chief Dave Moreland and other certified scorers will man a booth to score trophy deer during the four-day run of the 36th-annual Louisiana Sportsman Show set to begin Thursday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center on St. Landry Road, off Lal. 30, in Gonzales. The Big Buck Contest is one the show's hundreds of features, semimars, hands-on activities and vendor displays.

The annual Louisiana Sportsman Show features hundreds of displays, vendors, new products, boats, retrievers, archery and shooting sports, tackle, ATV riding, food booths, waterfowl and hunting stuff and seminars. But the one booth that draws the most attention from the thousands attending is the trophy bucks display.

The 36th annual show is Thursday through Sunday

A fixture since the show’s Hurricane Katrina-induced move from the Superdome to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, is the Big Buck contest.

David Moreland, the former state Wildlife Division chief, was instrumental in developing the Louisiana Whitetail Recognition Program, a move that encouraged deer hunters to get their trophy bucks to qualified big-buck scorers so the state could develop a data bank of the state’s trophy whitetail deer.

Moreland will have a crew on hand throughout the show to score bucks taken during the recent season and bucks not scored but taken during the 2013-2014 season for the LSS’s Big Buck Contest. There’s no entry fee — it’s sponsored Louisiana Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association — and according to Sportsman Show’s rules “offers all adult entrants chances to win category titles and a shot at a Yamaha 350 Grizzly ATV.”

The ATV winner will come from a random drawing Sunday. Hunters submitting trophy bucks must be 18 or older to win the ATV.

Contest categories for trophy whitetails include Youth, Best Louisiana Gun, Best Louisiana Bow, Best Mississippi Gun, Best Mississippi Bow, Best Out-of-State Gun, Best Out-of-State Bow and Muzzleloader or Crossbow.

Other drawings include a $500 Bowie Outfitters gift coupon, $360 custom-made Arno Bernard knives for hunters entering the largest typical and nontypical bucks, and Moreland’s donation of a $200 Bowie Outfitters gift certificate for the Youth Division winner.

Hunters must have their deer entered and scored during show hours Friday and Saturday.

Quail Forever

For the folks who like to take bird dogs into the Louisiana fields to hunt bobwhites, their prayer these days is “quail sometimes,” and that seldom happens.

Quail are extraordinarily difficult to find, even in places where they were prolific 40 years ago. It’s a problem here and across the South, where quail hunting was as much as part of Southern heritage as pecan pie, grits and Sunday family dinner.

That’s why Quail Forever was formed, and chapters have been established from Virginia through the Southern and Midwest states. But not here, not yet.

Wednesday, a handful of passionate quail hunters are hosting an organizational meeting for a Capital City-Acadiana area Quail Forever Chapter.

It’s at 6:30 p.m. at Long River Lodge, 497 Cannatella Road, Melville. For more, call John Ballance (225) 266-1953 or Louis Hebert (225) 718-1525.

Fishing note

Friday morning’s low hit 27 degrees. That’s mild compared to what our brethren in northern parishes faced. Interstate 20 was closed for miles Thursday in north Louisiana. Most folks up there didn’t see temperatures much above freezing until Saturday.

What does that do to the fish?

Talking with David Cavell during Thursday’s Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament get-together at Cabela’s, it appears neither the cold nor the rising barometric pressure had much of an effect.

“We scouted in water that was 68 degrees,” Cavell said. “And the bite was phenomenal. Bass are pushing to the spawning areas when the water reaches that temperature, and it takes a lot to back them off that.”

Last week’s full moon and warming sunshine is a combination that triggers the spawning urge for bass, especially when water temperatures hit that magic 68 degrees, and it takes days of frigid air temperatures and constantly changing water levels to bring that ritual to a halt. But this week’s prediction of as much as 5 to 8 inches of rain could do it.

The upper atmosphere isn’t warm enough for us to believe that this rain will be warm enough to keep water temperatures across south Louisiana at that 68-degree level.

Putting that much rain into lakes, rivers, bayous and canals could mean another few weeks’ delay for bass that didn’t spawn last week to push to the banks, and for bluegill to begin the same spawning routine.

The rain also muddies the water, and bass and the other sunfish need clear water on spawning beds to make sure sunlight warms spawning beds enough to allow fertilized eggs to hatch.

Finding the perp

It took weeks for state Wildlife Enforcement Division agents and the deputies in the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office to track down the person believed to have cut down as many as 100 trees on the Spring Bayou WMA.

Agents received an anonymous tip on the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline that led to the arrest of Rich Savoy, 48, of Hessmar.

Savoy was booked into the Avoyelles Parish Jail for allegedly felling, according to the LDWF, up to 100 trees on the Spring Bayou WMA since early in December.

The report said, “Agents believe the trees were cut down to block navigation to the northern part of the WMA in order to keep other hunters out of the area. The trees blocked all three entrances to an area known as the Bean Field in the northwest corner of the WMA.”

Agents said the trees were 10 to 30 inches in diameter and included “up to 50-foot-tall including cypress, oak and willow trees.”

Savoy faces counts of criminal damage of state property, operating an ATV off an ATV trail, failure to comply with WMA self-clearing permit regulations and interference with navigation. Conviction could mean a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail along with civil restitution penalties covering replacing the trees and reimbursement to the state for cleanup and clearing of the areas.