Bass

Go south, young man

Jeff Bruhl hauls in a 2-pound largemouth from a cane-lined run on the east side of the Mississippi River south of Venice, the last stop on the road in Plaquemines Parish. With the river falling to its lowest point in more than nine months, freshwater fishermen are taking advantage of bass moving from ponds and feeding along the stands of cane. Bruhl flipped a 'creature' bait next to the canes to catch this largemouth bass and caught and landed several more on a trip Thursday afternoon.

If you’ve been sleepwalking through the past several months, and some of us have, wake up!

The hunting season is less than three weeks away!

And, if you’re short on ammo, don’t wait until the day before, even the week before, the Sept. 5 season opener in both dove-hunting zones because you might not find the right shotshells to take into fields.

Put on your mask then walk through an outdoors shop and you’re likely to find empty shelves, so you’ll need to start on a quest.

If you have shells, take your shotgun from safe storage — now — and clean it, making sure it’s operating (OK, so don’t load it and risk injury) and, if there’s a problem, don’t wait until the week before the season to get it fixed because you won’t get the gun back in time for the season.

Another issue

To hunt all migratory birds and waterfowl, you need a Harvest Information Program checkoff on your hunting licenses.

HIP used to be free, but unless you can go to the licensing desk at state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge, this year’s HIP will cost $2 in a transaction fee.

It’s a long story about how we got to this point, but it became apparent vendors weren’t asking the right questions (if they asked them at all) when you bought your hunting licenses, and the information state and federal bird biologists were getting from HIP certification was faulty. Game biologists needed a better way of finding out who was hunting what and how successful hunters were during the past season.

This year, you’ll have to go to the LDWF website — wlf.louisiana.gov — and go through the steps to get registered (if you’re not already) and fill out the HIP questionnaire to get certified.

Don’t get caught without one. There’s a fine, and not having one will bring more hassle than you want to endure.

The season

The 2020-2021 hunting seasons pamphlet is available on the LDWF website, and the printed pamphlets will be available soon.

Hope you noted a change from the proposed dove season dates in January to the ones ratified by the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in early June.

The South Zone splits run Sept. 5-16, Oct. 17-Nov. 29 and Dec. 19-Jan. 21, while the North Zone has Sept. 5-27, Oct. 10-Nov. 15 & Dec. 26-Jan. 24 dates.

Lottery hunts

The White Lake area has provided top-drawer waterfowl hunting for decades. If you want a chance to hunt there, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries lottery hunts are the way to go.

Aug. 31 is the deadline to apply for two youth waterfowl lottery hunts and a string of rice field and march hunts during the upcoming 60-day duck season.

The youth hunts (ages 10-17) are scheduled for Nov. 7-8 and is limited to one application per hunter. Note here if the young hunter is 16 or 17 years old, he or she must have all the proper licenses and stamps, and all young hunters must have a certificate showing successful completion of an LDWF-approved hunter safety course.

Youngsters are required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and a “guide” will be assigned to each hunting pair.

There will be 30 rice field hunts and 30 marsh hunts on these dates: Nov. 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 28, 30; Dec. 2, 3, 5, 6, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29; and, Jan. 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 19, 23, 24.

Applicants must be 18 years old, and are limited to one application.

If drawn, a hunter will be able to bring two additional hunters along with paying $225 for the rice field hunt, while marsh hunters will be allowed to bring one additional hunter and pay an additional $350.

All lottery applications are available only on the LDWF website: la-web.s3licensing.com/. Find the “Lottery Applications” tab, then update or create their customer record similar to purchasing a license, then submit an application. Paper applications will not be accepted.

There is a $2 transaction fee for each application, and an additional $5 administrative fee for each rice field and marsh application.

If drawn, you will be notified by email. The youth hunts are nontransferable.

Hunters must have proper licenses and stamps.

For more, call Schuyler Dartez at (337) 536-6061/email: sdartez@wlf.la.gov.

Check this out

First-time squirrel hunters might want to register for the LDWF Wildlife Division’s Squirrel Hunting 101 seminar set Sept. 19 at the Waddill Wildlife Refuge on 4142 North Flannery Road in Baton Rouge.

COVID-19 will force social distancing on the seminar, so space will be limited and getting registered early will ensure a spot.

The plan is to run from 8 a.m.-noon with instruction on proper equipment, firearm selection, rules and regulations, outdoor navigation, hunting opportunities on public lands, and will finish with an outdoor session covering proper hunting techniques.

There's no fee. Call Travis Dufour at (337) 735-8685/email: tdufour@wlf.la.gov.