Fishermen are seeing the first effects of the opening of the state two Mississippi River spillways, hunters in the Atchafalaya Basin will face shorter periods and stiffer restrictions from other State Deer Area 6 hunters during the 2011-2012 deer-hunting season.
During Thursday’s Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, State Deer Study leader Scott Durham a called for a “Declaration of Emergency” to change hunting dates and restrictions calling for bucks-only dates from the Morganza Control Structure (floodway gates) south to Interstate 10 and all areas from I-10 south within the Atchafalaya Basin’s guide levees.
Further restrictions were outlined for the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area, which is between these levees. These lands are in State Deer Area 6, an area that takes in most of the state’s south-central and southeastern parishes.
The Army Corps of Engineers opened the first Morganza control gates May 15. Eventually, 17 gates were opened. The last of the gates was closed Friday.
“Plans were for one-foot rise per day (in the basin), but we saw a four-foot jump in an eight-hour period,” Durham said.
“Most of the deer in the basin went to higher ground,” he said. “A few (deer) found islands in the basin and some survived on floating debris. There was some direct mortality, mostly drowned deer.”
Durham said the initial estimate of 30 percent mortality on deer north of Interstate 10 and that recruitment — health and welfare of this year’s fawns — will be reduced, numbers that forced state game managers to reduce hunter’s take by as much as 50-60 percent.
Area 6’s lone bucks-only restriction is the first 15 days of the archery season. After that, it’s either-sex take by all weapons to the season limit of three bucks and three doe deer.
The new seasons, passed by the LWFC, leaves Atchafalaya Basin hunters with only 11 either-sex days in restricted primitive- and modern-firearms seasons.
Atchafalaya Basin Deer Seasons
Sherburne WMA: Archery (bucks only), Oct. 1-15; Archery (either sex), Oct. 16-Feb. 15; Youth/Physically Challenged weekend (either sex) Oct. 29-30; Youth Lottery (either sex) Oct. 29-30, Dec. 23, Dec. 26, Dec. 28, Dec. 30; Modern Firearms (either sex), Nov. 25-26 (mandatory check); Modern Firearms (bucks only), Dec. 24-Jan. 1; Primitive Firearms (either sex), Jan. 7-8.
Atchafalaya Basin (lands south of the floodway gates and within basin protection levees): Archery (bucks only), Oct. 1-15; Archery (either sex), Oct. 16-Feb. 15; Modern Firearms (either sex; still-hunt only), Nov. 19-27; Modern Firearms (bucks only; still-hunt only), Nov. 28-Dec. 9; Modern Firearms (either sex; with/without dogs), Dec. 10-11; Modern Firearms (bucks only; with/without dogs), Dec. 1-Jan. 15; Primitive Firearms (bucks only), Jan. 23-29.
Boys and girls ages 12-16 are eligible for the first Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Summer Camp set July 18-22 at the Waddill Wildlife Education Center.
There is no charge for the day-camp, but is limited to the first 20 campers who register by contacting the LDWF’s Adam Einck at (225) 765-2465 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Youngsters attending all five camp days can earn both Boater Education and Hunter Education certificates. Parents will be able to drop the youngsters off between 7-8 a.m. and return to pick them up between 4-5 p.m. daily.
Lunch is included. Each youngster will receive a Cabela’s-donated rod-and-reel combo and Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana membership.
The center’s address is 4142 North Flannery Road.
Early season migratory bird seasons approved Thursday by the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission. Season dates are subject to approval by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
SOUTH ZONE: Sept. 3-11, Oct. 15-Nov. 27, Dec. 17-Jan. 2.
NORTH ZONE: Sept. 3-18, Oct. 8-Nov. 6, Dec. 10-Jan. 2.
Daily limit is 15. Possession limit 30 after splits’ opening days. Includes mourning, whitewing, Eurasian collared and turtle doves. If hunters keep the head and one fully feathered wing on Eurasian collared doves and ringed turtle doves, these two nonnative species will not be counted in daily nor possession limits. If fully dressed they will be included in the aggregate limit.
TEAL SPECIAL SEASON
STATEWIDE: Sept. 10-25
Daily limit is an aggregate of 4 of bluewing, greenwing and cinnamon teal. Possession limit is 8 after opening day. Federal and state waterfowl stamps required.
RAILS & GALLINULES
STATEWIDE: Sept. 10-25. Remaining seasons to be set Aug. 4 when the LWFC considers migratory waterfowl seasons.
Daily limit on king and clapper rails is 15 (aggregate). Possession limit is 30 after opening day. Daily and possession limits on Virginia and sora rails is 25 (aggregate).
Daily limit on common and purple gallinules is 15 (aggregate). Possession limit is 30 after opening day.
WOODCOCK (45 days)
STATEWIDE: Dec. 18-Jan. 31
Daily limit is 3. Possession limit is 6 after opening day.
HUNTING HOURS: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset on all above species, except noon to sunset on Sept. 3, the opening day of the dove season in both zones.
Proposed 2012 spring turkey seasons
The newly proposed plan splits the state into north and south zones with three turkey hunting areas in each zone. Daily limit is one gobbler. Season limit is two gobblers. Final ratification is at the LWFC’s Nov. 3 meeting:
Area A: March 24-April 22. Area B: March 24-April 15. Area C: March 24-April 8. Youth/Physically Challenged Weekend: March 17-18. Private lands only.
Area D: March 31-April 29. Area E: March 31-April 22. Area F: March 31-April 15. Youth/Physically Challenged Weekend: March 24-25. Private lands only.