Alex Parsons, 12, makes dad proud with trophy turkey _lowres

Photo provided by TOMMY PARSONS Alex Parsons got a jump on this weekend's youth-only spring turkey hunting weekend when he ventured to Alabama last weekend with his dad, Tommy, for Alabama's youth-only weekend. The 12-year-old Dunham School studen bagged a gobbler, a trophy that finished second in the Eddie Salter Turkey Man Rodeo and Expo in Alabama. Alex's trophy, estimated to be three years old, weighed out at 23 pounds and had 10-inch-plus lopng beard.

It was hard to figure out who was the prouder in the Parsons family, young Alex Parsons or his dad, Tommy, after the 12-year-old took second place in Alabama’s big-time spring hunting festival, Eddie Salter’s Turkey Man Rodeo and Expo, last weekend during Alabama’s youth-only turkey hunting days.

Like Louisiana’s youth-only weekend this weekend, youngsters get Alabama’s first shots on gobblers before the full-blown season begins. That happened Saturday in Alabama, and the Area A, B and C seasons opened Saturday on private lands across Louisiana.

There’s public hunting available on wildlife management areas, and that’s where this run-up to the wide-open turkey season begins in flood-ravaged Louisiana.

Late-in-the-week rains exacerbated the flooding conditions throughout the state and forced Wildlife and Fisheries to close turkey season on the Grassy Lake WMA, a popular destination for hunters in northeastern Avoyelles Parish. LDWF also closed North Bayou Natchitoches Road, Bayou Natchitoches Road from the Bayou Des Sot Bridge to Smith Bay and Cas Cas Road on that WMA after a report from the field indicating, “The area is currently inundated with floodwater and water levels are forecast to continue to rise.”

That report came a couple of hours after continuous flooding forced the LDWF to close Bayou Pierre, Big Lake, Boeuf, Loggy Bayou and Russell Sage WMAs, a move that all but cancels the entire turkey hunting season on Boeuf and Big Lake in the east-central and northeastern parishes and Loggy Bayou in Bossier Parish.

Earlier in the week, and closer to the Capital City area, the LDWf closed Boyce Tower Road and the road leading into the Crusel Tract on the Maurepas Swamp WMA and closed the parking lot for the Joyce WMA’s swamp walk off Old U.S. 51.

Back to Alex

Alex Parsons made the most of long-standing friendship between his dad, Tommy, and avid Troy, Alabama, hunter Russ Harris.

“Russ is a turkey fanatic and likes calling (turkeys) and watching Alex hunt,” Tommy Parsons said before admitting there’s a fee to gain access to Harris’ turkey-rich Alabama fields and forests — “We bring at least two sacks for crawfish,” he said.

“We’re invited every year and we were on a couple of gobblers, but they wouldn’t budge,” Papa Parsons said. “So we moved and saw two (gobblers) in a field with hens, positioned ourselves in the woods, stuck a decoy out, called, and around the corner here they came. It happened pretty fast.”

Alex’s trophy weighed 23 pounds and had a beard measuring more than 10 inches long but its three-quarters inch spurs (a bit short for a 3-year-old gobbler) left the 12-year-old Dunham School student in second place in the youth rodeo and he carried turkey calls, camo shirts, hats, shotgun shells and a big plaque home last Sunday.

There was more: “Everywhere we went, other hunters and people at the expo came up to him and congratulated him,” Tommy Parsons said.

“Dad I feel like I’m famous,” Alex said.

And, for that weekend, Alex was.

Calling cats for King Kat

There’s always something different in Louisiana’s outdoors paradise, and the latest in that long line is the April 9 stop in Morgan City on the 2016 Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail.

Yep, it’s a catfish tournament — catfish kept alive through the weigh-in — complete with cash and prizes and, like bass tournament circuits, a chance to qualify for Cabela’s two-tiered championship tournaments.

Late registration is for 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 8 for the Holiday Inn, 520 Roderick Street in Morgan City with a “captain’s meeting” and seminar at a 7 p.m. King Kat Association membership ($25) is a must. Registration is open. For more information, call (502) 384-5924 or go to website: www.kingkatusa.com.

Although the event is scheduled for the Atchafalaya Spillway, competitors will be allowed to fish waters accessible by boat from the weigh-in site at Jesse Fontenot Memorial Boat Landing on River Road in Berwick. There’s a five-catfish limit and only live fish will be weighed because King Kat wants to be able to live-release all weighed fish.

Top angling teams will have a chance to advance to Cabela’s King Kat North and South Championship: The North is set Sept. 23-24 on the Ohio River near Henderson, Kentucky, and The South is scheduled Sept. 29-Oct. 1 on Old Hickory Lake and Cumberland River from Gallatin, Tennessee.

Maybe best of all is the free Cabela’s King Kat Kids Fishing Rodeo held the same day at Lake End Park off La. 70 on the north end of Morgan City. It’s open to anglers 12 and younger.

Here’s how it’ll work: Accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, kids need to bring a rod and reel and their favorite bait. They can register on site from 8-9 a.m. There’s competition and prizes in two age groups, 7-and-younger and 8-12 years old. Fishing begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 11 a.m. Cabela’s assures all young anglers “will receive a prize just for entering.”

All youngsters entered will be eligible for a chance to win one of the six Outdoor Promotions $1,000 scholarships to be awarded in October from among all King Kat Kids events.

Trapping the traps

The numbers are in, and the two weekends in the state’s Derelict Crab Trap Rodeo involving volunteers’ efforts ended up removing more than 2,500 crab traps from two areas in the southeastern parishes.

Lake Pontchartrain’s was held Feb. 13. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation-sponsored day, based at Pelican Pointe Marina, collected 554 traps, and LPBF volunteers assisted Wildlife and Fisheries staff to haul in another 832 traps during the closed period.

“Picking up the ghost traps is hard, but very rewarding work. We thank all the volunteers and sponsors who support this worthwhile effort,” LPBF’s John Lopez said. Area CCA Louisiana chapters and members of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation furnished volunteers, too.

The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program sponsored the Feb. 20 Barataria Basin cleanup from Jean Lafitte Harbor Volunteers from BTNEP. Local CCA chapters and commercial crabbers brought out 874 traps, and helped collect another 320 during the closure for a total of 1,194 traps from waters in Jefferson Parish.