While south Louisiana hunters are going full speed into the deer season — more and more big bucks are showing up each day — Mother Nature apparently has put the brakes on for duck hunters.
While reports from the southwestern parishes’ rice fields and marshes show solid takes during the first split, reports from the southeastern parishes is dismal, even though hunters along the Mississippi River are talking about above-average goose hunts.
Hunters like Randy Barksdale talk about the best opening days in years in the Cameron Parish area around Calcasieu Lake, while waterfowlers in the St. Bernard and Plaquemines area are moaning about the lack of birds and the fact they are having to take doe gris to have any birds when they return from a morning hunt.
And the take from public hunts is proving their point: Surveys of hunters in the Pass a Loutre, Salvador, Pointe-aux-Chenes, even the Atchafalaya Delta wildlife management area are off by as many as four birds per hunter. The Atchafalaya Delta that had produced first-week hauls of nearly five ducks per hunter were down to an average of 1.4 birds Saturday. Pass a Loutre’s take was 2.8 ducks per hunter, but state biologists listed 54 percent of the take as scaup (dos gris). Greenwing teal made up the most of the “keeper” birds on these four areas. The estimated total take of 680 hunters was 936 ducks.
“The real problem, I think, was all the east and southeast wind,” Donnie Davis said after finishing the first split on his Plaquemines Parish lease Sunday. “We had birds, I mean good ducks, on the days when we had a good push from cold fronts. Most of the last 10 days were warmer with very little north wind.
“We’re hoping the cold front I’ve been seeing in the forecast for next week will push more birds here for the opening of the second split. I think it will.”
West Zone hunters have a first-split run through Sunday. Coastal and East zones hunters can start a second-split run Saturday, Dec. 15.
Dogs on Kisatchie
A lawsuit filed Nov. 16 by the Louisiana Sportsmen Alliance has forestalled a U.S. Forest Service plan to ban the use of dogs for deer hunting on portions of the Kisatchie National Forest in north Louisiana.
The USFS’ announcement Tuesday read, “While the Forest Service intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit, the decision will not be implemented at this time and the 2012 ‘with or without dogs’ deer season will proceed Dec. 15-23, 2012.” Those dates were approved by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission earlier this year.
The “with or without dogs” bucks-only season is confined to the Catahoula, Winn and Kisatchie Ranger districts, and the Evangeline Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District.
Hunters, regardless of age, are required to carry a fee-free Kisatchie National Forest Deer Hunting Permit, which is available on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website: http://www.wlf.la.gov (find the link to the KNF Deer Hunting Permit.)
Further rules for this season are that deer hunters using dogs must register an identifying mark with LDWF, and that each dog must wear a collar providing the owner’s name, address and phone number. That requires the hunter seeking a permit to provide their name and address and the identifying mark used on dogs engaged in the hunt.
Permits also are available from the LDWF’s Pineville Office (318) 487-5885.
Black bear killings
A week after a black bear was found fatally shot in Avoyelles Parish, a second black bear was found shot dead in Pointe Coupee Parish.
The incidents have launched Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigations into the shootings.
The second bear, an adult female weighing more than 200 pounds, reportedly was found Monday between the Atchafalaya River and La. 1. The LDWF report indicated the bear was killed by a high-powered rifle bullet.
A cash reward of up to $7,000 is being offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction for the Pointe Coupee Parish bear. A $6,000 reward is up for similar information on the bear killing in Avoyelles Parish.
Information can be turned over to the state agency through Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 442-2511.
The Louisiana black bear has been on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List since 1992.
New D’Arbonne limits
The daily creel limits taking sac-a-lait on Lake D’Arbonne near Farmerville was reduced to 25 effective this month, the LDWF announced.
The change of the daily limit from 50 to 25 fish per day was approved by the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission after concerns of over-fishing of the species in the reservoir during the past several years.
The reservoir is regarded to be a first-rate late-fall and winter hot spot for sac-a-lait.