After John J. Audubon’s extensive documentation of Louisiana’s wild birds that showed up in his paintings, there’s little argument that Louisiana’s next foray into outdoors art came when waterfowl hunters decided to turn out a spread of their own decoys.
Several decoys dating from before the Civil War and fashioned from carving cypress, tupelo gum and sweet gum are in the hands of collectors or displayed in collections throughout the state and across the country. And they came from Louisiana hunters, men who turned a hunting necessity into an art form.
Saturday and Sunday at the Castine Center in Mandeville — it’s located in Pelican Park — the Louisiana Wildfowl Carvers & Collectors Guild will hold its 37th annual Louisiana Wildfowl Festival, and carvers from across the country, especially Louisiana carvers, will compete for $40,000 in prize money for their carvings.
Yes, there’s working waterfowl decoys, just like those hunters used to feed their families, and back then to provide ducks and geese for the market, but there’s more, much more.
Carving competition has morphed into birds of all sizes, even fish: The Best in the Gulf South Award went to a pair of fly catchers resting on a dogwood branch, and a display of feeding hand-carved sac-a-lait attracted a big crowd to that display table in last year’s event. There’s even a contest for painters.
Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, then 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Judging in numerous categories takes place Saturday with awards and an auction set Sunday.
LWCCG’s Richard Reeves said the new addition to the schedule is a Youth Competition, in which Boy Scouts can earn carving merit badges by whittling duck heads from a block of wood supplied by the guild.
And there will be the usual displays and carving demonstrations.
For more information, call Reeves at (985) 892-2215 of visit the guild’s website: LWCCG.com.
Oh those teal
The vagaries of teal hunting showed in the final week of the special teal season.
The season ends Sunday with a forecast of rain coming in ahead of another cold front.
From numbers turned in from Wednesday’s hunts on public lands (Atchafalaya Delta, Pass a Loutre, Salvador and Point-aux-Chenes), it’s clear that last week’s cold front shoved more teal into the state’s southern parishes.
The Sept. 13-14 opening weekend showed an average of less than one teal per hunter, Wednesday’s numbers were up, like 3 teal per hunter on Pass a Loutre and 2.7 per hunter on the Atchafalaya Delta wildlife management areas. Only bluewing teal showed up in hunters’ bags.
Even the estimated 100 hunters on Point-aux-Chenes took an average of 2.1 teal per man.
While those numbers fall far short of the six-per-day limit allowed for the special 16-day season, those numbers are more than twice as good as the paltry take from the 2013 season.
Another indication of the this year’s hit-and-miss season came in a down-river report from Buras. Hunters out Tuesday reported seeing very few birds. Wednesday’s report had a limit from one blind and 10-14 birds from all other blinds.
The “big” duck season opens in November.
Wildlife and Fisheries’ refuge managers advised hunters heading to the Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area that the bucks-only archery season for that WMA was incorrect in the Louisiana Hunting Pamphlet published in August.
The correct bucks-only archery dates are Oct. 1-15 on the 5,906-acre WMA in West Feliciana Parish.
Ducks Unlimited’s Southwestern Louisiana regional director Derrick Davis has been named the DU’s 2013-14 Regional Director of the Year.
Davis, from Lafayette, works with volunteers from member chapters in DU’s Region 4, and those chapters raised slightly more than $1.5 million for DU in 2013.
“The volunteers in southwest Louisiana should get credit for all of their hard work,” Davis said. “Louisiana has a great group of dedicated volunteers and that’s why we were the No. 1 state in 2013.”
White Lake lottery
Oct. 15 (4:30 p.m.) is the deadline for submitted application for the highly prized White Lake Conservation Area marsh and rice-field lottery waterfowl hunts for the upcoming season.
Wildlife and Fisheries’ Wildlife Division announced that marsh hunts are scheduled for Nov. 20, 24, 26, 29, 30; Dec. 22, 23, 27, 28; and Jan. 5, 13, 15.
Rice field hunts will be held Nov. 15, 16, 19, 22, 23, 25, 29, 30; Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28, 30; and, Jan. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, and each application must include a nonrefundable $5 fee (check or money order). Applications are available at all LDWF field offices or on the LDWF website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/refuge/lottery-applications. Completed applications can be delivered to Room 422, LDWF headquarters, 2000 Quail Drive in Baton Rouge, or mailed to same address (70808 zip code). Make sure to note “Attention: White Lake Marsh (or Rice Field) Lottery Hunt” on the envelop.
Selected hunters will be advised by mail. Rice field hunts are for three hunters and the marsh hunts are for two hunters. After being selected the hunter must pay an additional $225 for rice field hunts and $350 for marsh hunts.
For more info, call Wayne Sweeney (337) 536-9400, Ext. 1, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DWI on the water
The Advocate publishes DWIs issued for motorists, so why not boaters.
According to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Enforcement Division, Benjamin J. Pooler III, 46, from Lafayette, was arrested for allegedly operating or driving a boat while intoxicated Sept. 20 on the Vermilion River. Enforcement agents booked him into the Lafayette Parish Jail for “... DWI, reckless operation of a vessel and aggravated assault.”
According to the LDWF, a conviction for DWI can draw fines ranging from $300 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail; reckless operation of a vessel carries up to a $200 fine and up to 30 days in jail; and, aggravated assault can draw up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.