Check the calendar lately?
Amidst some of the best late-summer saltwater (Lake Borgne and the barrier islands) and freshwater (Atchafalaya Spillway) fishing, Louisiana outdoorsmen are less than 10 days away from the opening of the dove season, just a bit more than two weeks away from the special 16-day teal season with the archery season for deer following in a matter of days after those bird hunts end.
In 90-plus-degree heat, it’s difficult to conjure up pleasurable thoughts of the Sept. 17 archery season in State Areas 3 and 8 and the Oct. 1 opener in the six other deer areas.
Deer are smart enough to follow the adage that “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun,” and, word is, deer are laying low and feeding only in the coolest time of the day - early morning.
Even worse for hunters trying to find the best opening-day spots is a lingering drought.
While the lack of rain has forced deer to linger close to water sources, the drying effects have reduced the availability of nutritious food sources.
LSU AgCenter professor Don Reed addressed that topic during a recent deer management seminar and told and hunters that there will be a shortage of “natural” foods for deer.
He said low rainfall forced oaks to prematurely drop acorns. Reed said deer are competing with feral hogs for that rich food source.
An added drought-related problem is that landowners and deer hunters use late August and September months to plant food plots for whitetails. With little or no moisture in the ground, what’s best to plant.
“The best warm-season forage plant is soybeans, but you have to plant enough of it so they don’t eat it down,” Reed said, adding that whatever is planted must be tasty enough to attract deer.
He described cowpeas as drought-tolerant and a warm-season forage. Corn husks provides another food source.
“Deer generally prefer legumes over grasses,” Reed said in an AgCenter publication. “Among grasses, deer generally prefer are cereal grains such as oat, wheat and rye over ryegrass.”
He explained that Sept. 1 is the time to start planting “cool-season” plots, and added that crimson clover, is a good choice because it grows in the fall months.
“What you plant is not as important as how you plant it,” Reed said. “The best seed in the world will not do well in a poorly managed seed bed.”
Here are other considerations Reed offered:
• Take a soil sample to the nearest AgCenter. This will help with soil conditioning (fertilizers and minerals) and help you pick the right seed to plant.
• To be of value to deer, plants should be shorter than five feet tall, or have fruits or nuts that drop to the ground.
• Clovers and legumes do not grow well in acidic soils.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will publish a list of fields open for public hunting for the Sept. 3 dove-season opener. LDWF biologist Jeff Duguay said as many as nine landowners have contact the state agency about leasing fields.
Duguay continues to accept inquiries for hunting locations around the state. Preferences will be given for recently harvested grain fields or freshly cut pastures. Fees can range from $750 to $2,000. Call Duguay at (225) 765-2353.
Hunters will pay $10 with no fee for hunters 15 and younger. Advocate Outdoors will publish a list of fields Sept. 1.