Scrape

South Louisiana deer hunters need to be looking for something like the dark area in the center of the photo. It's a 'hot' scrape, a spot worked by a buck marking his territory. Notice the low-hanging branches of a tree over the scrape. Bucks will leave scent from their orbital glands on the low branches, and will leave scent in the scrape to alert other bucks and female whitetails of his presence in the area.

An everlasting deer hunter’s question is when to start looking for the rut.

In almost every instance, the answer is — NOW!

Even in the south-central parishes and those along the Mississippi River where the primary rut comes around Christmas, bucks know this is the time of year to get ready for the activity that makes little deer sometime after June 1 next year.

Bucks begin staking out their territory by setting scrapes along the perimeter of the area they would like to call their personal domain.

Although bucks are long past rubbing saplings (and anything else they can find) to remove the “velvet” so they can show their antlers, rubs are important hunters’ signs, too.

Experience handed down year ago taught to look for low-hanging branches — cedar trees are, for most bucks, their favorite — where bucks can leave scent from orbital glands on their foreheads.

In almost every case, bucks will scrape the ground under these branches and urinate in the scrape to leave more scent.

You don’t have to look hard to find a scrape. Look around. Walk outside a deer’s track on a well-worn path. Keep looking, and you’re bound to find a place clear of leaves and branches, a patch of dirt a bit darker (even in red dirt) than the surrounding soil.

Bucks tend to revisit these sites often and will repeat the overhead and under-hooves process to stake out their claim on the females they know will, sooner or later, be ready to make the next age class of whitetails.

Pressure’s on

Freshwater fishermen, especially bass chasers, know only too well the effects a high-rising barometer has on fish.

Now that were getting into those post-cold front times when the barometer soars to its highest levels of the year — on those bluebirdiest of bluebird days — it’s time to share the knowledge with coastal anglers.

After a dreary Thursday, Friday’s sun sure was a welcomed sight. But, it came with a barometric pressure topping out above the 30.30 inches mark.

Pontchartrain speckled trout guru Dudley Vandenborre has given “stay home” advice for years when the pressure gets that high. The fish, freshwater and saltwater, just aren’t active, and the first to come out of that “funk” are the heavily scaled redfish on the coast and sac-a-lait in freshwater.

Could it be the finer-scaled species are more affected by a high barometer?

Anyway, after a cold front pushes through, it’s good to wait a day or two (depending on each front’s strength) to head out. Monday’s catches should be better. The barometric pressure was predicted to fall to near 30 inches Sunday, and remain relatively low for the rest of the week. A strong run of sunshine-filled days will help, too.

The next front is scheduled to move in Friday with rain in the forecast through Sunday.

Addition, closures

Earlier this month, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved a plan to move the 37-acre Queen Bess Island into the Louisiana Wildlife Refuge system, which means the LDWF will be able to further protect the more than 4,400 waterbird nests.

Near Grand Isle, Queen Bess is fourth-largest brown pelican rookery in the state along with providing nesting habitat for as many as 10 species of nesting colonial waterbirds, according to the LDWF.

The U.S. Army has scheduled training for Nov. 29-Dec. 1. It means the Fort Polk and Peason Ridge wildlife management areas will be closed.

State Wildlife Division suggests hunters to try Clear Creek WMA near Leesville, West Bay WMA near Oakdale in Allen Parish, the Sabine WMA near Many, and the Kisatchie National Forest for hunting opportinities during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Closer to home, state Wildlife and Fisheies plans to repair the bridge across Bayou des Sot on the Grassy Lake WMA (Rapides Parish) beginning Monday. If all goes as planned in replacing the bridge with a culvert, the area could reopen sometime later in the week.

Night shooter

Kendon Griffiths, a 19-year-old from DeRidder, is the latest to be nabbed by Wildlife and Fisheries’ Enforcement Division agents.

A tip sent agents to Griffiths’ home where the agency report stated Griffiths “admitted to shooting the deer off of Lumas Road near DeRidder at night.”

He was cited for taking deer during illegal hours, shooting deer from a public road and from a moving vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public road, failing to tag deer, failing to fill out the harvest report and failing to validate taking a deer. Agents seized the deer’s head and meat.

The teenager faces fines up to $2,200 and 360 days in jail for the offenses along with a $2,033 civil-restitution penalty for the replacement value of deer.

Commercials

Commercial fishermen will be able to renew and obtain their licenses in the coming days at LDWF field offices, and not have to make the trek to Baton Rouge.

The dates and locations include:

Nov. 19-21, Bourg Office, 467 Texas Gulf Road, Bourg, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Dec. 3-5, New Orleans Office, Suite 438, 2045 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Dec. 9-10, Lake Charles Office, 1213 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Dec. 11-12, Lafayette Office, 200 Dulles Drive, Lafayette, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

For details, call LDWF licensing (225) 765-2898.