Whooping crane photo for Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Whooping good day

One of a group of 12 juvenile whooping cranes stands apart from the other young birds released into the marshes on the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge earlier this month. Three of the 12 were hatched from eggs collected from the wild in Wisconsin and reared at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans. Seven were reared at Maryland's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and two were raised at Calgary Zoo in Canada. Another 11 juvenile whoopers were released Nov. 9 on the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area . The newly relocated birds join some 49 other whooping cranes as part of an experimental population being monitored by Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' biologists in an effort to restore a whooping crane population in the state.

Black Friday takes on a different meaning for hunters invading camps on this weeks’ first big fall-winter holiday.

There’s no argument here about all the attention Christmas shoppers give to the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping orgy — and curses to the stores demanding their employees give up the one holiday families have to give thanks for what our country affords us when those stores open Thanksgiving Day.

Moreover, there’s no argument that this week is the busiest hunting week we’ll see this year. Why change? It’s been the busiest week at hunting camps across our state every year for generations.

All game is on a hunter’s table this week — deer, ducks, geese and all the small game anyone can handle, maybe with the exception of rabbits. Although the rabbit season is open, die-hard rabbit hunters like to wait for the first frost to get some of the vegetation to die off to give them a better chance to see their quarry.

With the coldest cold front of the year moving through to the coast this weekend, we can expect mornings in the 40s and afternoon highs in the mid-60s through the week.

This front should push more ducks into the marshes and ag fields for this week, and the lower nighttime temperatures should increase the feeding activity of deer throughout the state.

Whitetails need more calories to ward off the chill, and extended feeding periods will keep them in prime feeding spots longer.

The onus on deer hunters is to find those prime feeding locations. Because fats are necessary in a deer’s diet, finding stands of productive oaks, and the acorns they produce, can lead to success in spotting whitetails.

Sugars are important for deer, too, and late-season fruit like persimmons, crabapples and whatever berries remain, can also provide first-rate feeding spots.

After that, what removes the “black” from Black Friday, and turning the holiday into a hunting-camp celebration, is being able to put venison on the table. So, make sure your hunting rifle is sighted-in properly and novice hunters under your watch are familiar with the weapon.

Safety paramount

Decades of statistics send us afield this week knowing there will be more than a fair share of hunting accidents, either from tree-stand falls, firearms discharge or ATV mishaps.

Safe weapon handling is a must. Don’t climb into a tree stand with a weapon, and don’t load your weapon until you’re ready to hunt. Remember to unload that weapon when you’re finished hunting and before you climb from your stand.

Same’s true for shotguns on a waterfowl hunt.

Check out the deer stand before you climb into it, and use a safety harness climbing into the stand and wear it on the stand.

A pointer for climbing into and down from a tree stand is the “three-point rule,” either keeping one hand and both feet, or both hands and one foot on the stand at all times.

More from Moreland

Dave Moreland put his more than 30 years of studying and hunting deer in our state to our benefit when he authored “Louisiana Whitetails” some six years ago.

Remember Moreland was the State Deer Study leader and the chief of the state’s Wildlife Division for nearly two decades, and the soft-bound book should be a must-read for dedicated deer hunters around here.

Read it and you’ll be able to adjust your hunting tactics to give you a better chance to use any of those six state-issued deer tags this season and into future seasons.

Better even is that Moreland not only tells you the whats, but the whys, and expands on the basics of herd management. He also explains about the many variations of our state’s rutting periods, a time when hunters need to be in the field.

“Louisiana Whitetails” is available on Amazon.