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Stamp Crowell is one of a dwindling number of young people interested in duck hunting, a pastime explored in 'In the Blind,' which looks at how important hunters are to conservation efforts.

The cat’s out of the bag for the 2022-2023 hunting seasons, and with it comes the biggest change for young hunters in our state’s hunting history.

For years, youngsters 15 and younger didn’t have to have a license to take to woods, fields, swamps and marshes.

But, come July 1, hunters 17 and younger will must have a “valid, original youth (hunting) license,” to pull a trigger or loose a bow on the dozen or more species allowed to be taken in Louisiana.

It’s a $5 license, and was the result of new recreational and commercial licenses fees enacted by the 2021 State Legislature. The license will come with deer and turkey tags, and the new regulation applies to trapping and eligibility for youth lottery hunts on as many as 12 wildlife management areas during the next season.

Young fishermen won’t have the same fee. They will be able to ply their sport without a license. Even better is the Legislature finally established a nonresident native son/daughter fishing license to go along with the long-established hunting license covering the same folks.

This new license runs 10 days and will cost $17 each for basic and saltwater licenses. There’s also a new $5 “from the bank” license that covers fishing and crabbing.

Another big change comes for deer and turkey hunters (for the 2023 season). The new regulation allows hunters to use electronic tags to register the deer and turkeys taken in the field. Paper tags will be available, but this move will give hunters the freedom from finding a vendor for those paper tags.

The proposal stated that this move “would allow hunters to have either a picture of their tags or electronic tags while hunting to be legal” for deer and turkey seasons.

Most of next season’s other changes came in adding or removing seasons on Wildlife and Fisheries’ extensive wildlife management areas’ system.

One good thing is, after years of changes, they’re doesn’t appear to be any alterations in season dates or bag limits on federal lands within the state.

What’s more, other than calendar dates, there appears to be no changes in the structures of the resident game not migratory bird/waterfowl seasons.

Here’s an abbreviated list of the WMA changes state Wildlife Division managers proposed during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting:

  • Adding 15 days to the archery-for-deer season on the Tunica Hills WMA;
  • Establishing a limited-use area on Bodcau WMA to provide a safety zone around the Bodcau shooting range;
  • Adding a day for either-sex deer hunting with primitive firearms on the Camp Beauregard WMA, and a youth lottery turkey hunting day on the Clear Creek WMA;
  • Changing either-sex, primitive firearms deer hunting days to bucks-only hunts on the Maurepas Swamp and Joyce WMAs;
  • Eliminating the seven-day, bucks-only firearms deer season on the Pomme de Terre WMA due to “...concerns of declining deer population.”
  • Prohibiting fishing, crabbing and cast netting or any other activities or trespassing on water control structures on the Pointe-Aux-Chenes WMA;
  • Requiring a permit for campers on WMAs.

The complete proposed seasons and regulations changes are on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/resources/category/commission-action-items

All concerned can make public comment through 4 p.m., March 3 to Tommy Tuma, LDWF Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA. 70898-9000 or by email: ttuma@wlf.la.gov

Public comment will be taken during the Feb. 3 and March 3 Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meetings in Baton Rouge.

LDWF managers are scheduled to hold public meetings on the seasons and regulations. With the continued spread of COVID, these public meetings likely will be held via Zoom. The announcement will come during the commission’s February meeting.

Red snapper

The latest count from our state’s LA Creel monitoring system is recreational fishermen took 813,386 pounds of red snapper through Dec. 26. That’s 99% of 2021’s 816,439-pound allotment. The season closed Dec. 31.

First tournament

Ryan Lavigne announced south Louisiana’s first big bass tournament of the year for Feb. 5. It's the annual pick-your-partner Fishing for Tucker event set for Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville.

The sponsor, Ascension Area Anglers, set a $100 entry fee with proceeds benefiting the family of Tucker Townsend, a youngster battling Mitochondrial Disorder.

Lavigne said fishermen must stay north of U.S. 90, and includes the open waters of the Atchafalaya and Verret basins.

You can call Lavigne at (225) 921-9332 or go to the tournament’s website: fishingfortucker.com