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Hunting Louisiana Whitetail

2008 Louisiana Deer Outlook — Part 2: Our Trophy Buck Areas

by Chris Berzas   |  September 28th, 2010 0

Your quest for that buck of a lifetime begins here! (December 2008)

Last month we focused on the best places in Louisiana to score on a deer in the regions whose populations were highest; this month our attention turns to locations, plus tips and tactics for taking a trophy Louisiana buck.


DEFINING LOUISIANA’S TROPHY WHITETAILS
The criteria for trophy bucks worthy of enrollment in the Louisiana Big Game Records are, explained LBGR chairman David Moreland, identical to those of the measuring systems established by the Boone and Crockett and Pope & Young awards programs. The Longhunter Society, which scores and records only bucks killed with a muzzleloader, also uses the B&C measuring system to rank trophy whitetails.

Minimum standards for white-tailed deer trophies to be listed in the Louisiana Big Game Records are as follow:

  • Modern Firearms: 160 typical B&C points or 185 non-typical points.
  • Archery: 110 typical B&C points or 130 non-typical B&C points.
  • Muzzleloader: 120 typical B&C points or 150 non-typical points.

For more information regarding the Louisiana Big Game Records and trophy whitetail hunting in Louisiana, you can contact David Moreland at his e-mail address, outdoor_roots@ hotmail.com.

The Louisiana Big Game Records can be downloaded from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Web site, which is found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/biggamehunts.

According to Moreland, the LDWF has initiated a deer registry for youth hunters. Hunters ages 15 years old or younger can register their deer, buck or doe, large or small, with the LDWF, which will recognize these youth hunters, and especially those who may have killed their first deer. This registry is on the department Web site — www.wlf.louisiana.gov– on the page containing the Louisiana Big Game Records.

Maps of our state’s wildlife management areas can be obtained at the LDWF headquarters on Quail Drive or any LDWF district office. They can also be downloaded from Internet at www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

For season dates, rules and regulations for deer hunting on public lands, consult the current edition of the Louisiana Hunting and Wildlife Management Area Regulations booklet.

WHERE TO FIND LOUISIANA’S TROPHY BUCKS
Northeast Louisiana
On the second day of archery season in Louisiana’s northeast area, bowhunter Billy Husted scored on a spectacular trophy whitetail — a buck in velvet that scored 219 1/8 B&C net non-typical points. The monster whitetail scored high enough to claim the new state record for a non-typical bow kill and top the archery division of the Louisiana Big Game Records.

Husted bagged his record-breaker between Tallulah and Newellton in Tensas Parish — comfortably within the state’s northeast area. To any serious Bayou State whitetail hunter, this is anything but a surprise: The historic river drainages of the Mississippi and Red River systems have yielded the majority of Louisiana’s trophy whitetail deer.

“Our deer records are a direct reflection of the habitat on which the animal was produced,” Moreland said. “Nearly all of the top public-land deer taken between 1998 and 2008 were killed on public lands with bottomland hardwood habitat.”

Trophy whitetails in the parishes of northeast Louisiana bordering the Mississippi River are well represented in the Louisiana Big Game Records.

Private lands within East Carroll Parish have delivered some 29 trophy whitetails above the P&Y minimum of 125 B&C points in the archery-typical division alone. Most of these trophy and top-quality deer were taken on private lands in the area.

The famed Willow Point islands managed by Tara Wildlife of Vicksburg, Miss., are probably the choicest of the East Carroll Parish private parcels that abound with high-quality and trophy deer. Only the bowhunter serious enough (and solvent enough) to step up to fee-paying status can get access to these lands.

Farther south along the Mississippi River, Madison and Tensas parishes also consistently deliver trophy whitetails on an annual basis. Madison Parish has delivered a total of 30 trophy whitetails in Louisiana records, the most impressive of which is the state’s all-time No. 1 typical, taken in 1943 by Don Broadway’ it scored 184 6/8 B&C points.

In Tensas Parish, the roughly 60 trophy bucks listed in the record book attest to both the bottomland hardwood habitat in the area and the quality of the Mississippi River deltaic soils.

Private lands here offer tremendous opportunities for hunting trophy whitetails, but opportunity-seeking hunters should be prepared to pay high lease fees to enjoy their sport. Some of these clubs demand fees over $5,000.

As for public lands available to state-licensed hunters, Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, in Madison, Tensas and Franklin parishes, offers some of the finest hunting in the area for first-quality and trophy deer. Approximately 68,000 acres in area, the refuge boasts a substantial complement of bottomland hardwoods.

Lottery gun hunts here admit 2,500 for either-sex deer hunts offered during two separate weekends in December. A muzzleloader-only deer hunt is available in January. The rest of the season is mainly archery endeavors for whitetails.

Successful hunters here will likely target traveling whitetails feeding on mast or browse. The best stands are usually located in funnel areas where deer trails lead from bedding areas to mast ridges.

For the avid bowhunter, hunting pressure is rather low, especially on weekdays in the area. Some of the best archery endeavors for the area’s deer occurs in the later season — especially in January. The area’s peak rut month is December. For more information, contact the Tensas River NWR at (318) 574-2664.

Just south of Tensas River NWR in portions of Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes, Big Lake Wildlife Management Area offers the public hunter the possibility of top-quality and trophy bucks.

In fact, the state’s largest non-typical, a 30-point buck scoring 281 6/8 B&C points, was taken here by James McMurray of Gilbert in January 1994. McMurray’s trophy buck also ranks among the top 10 non-typical trophy whitetails ever killed in North America.

The rut here also occurs in December and January. Hunting “trailing” deer is the chief tactic used by gun hunters and bowhunters alike. Either-sex hunting usually occurs for two days after Thanksgiving, followed by bucks-only hunting in late December and early January. The balance of the season is for bowhunters.

Big Lake WMA is 12 miles east of Gilbert. For maps, season dates and more information regarding Big Lake WMA, call the LDWF at (318) 757-4571.

Northwest Louisiana
Impressive non-typical whitetails appear to be the rule in this part of the state. The seventh-best Louisiana non-typical taken by gun was killed in 1988 by William “Bill” Ethredge in Caddo Parish. Also, the current No. 16 non-typical was found in Caddo Parish — a 22-pointer scoring 206 4/8 B&C points.

More recently, 14-year-old Shreveport hunter Chris “Green” Campbell scored on the new No. 1 Louisiana non-typical in the muzzleloader category — a 30-point buck that scored 203 5/8 B&C Points.

“This deer takes over first place in the state record book and will qualify for the all-time Boone & Crockett record book,” said Moreland. “Green killed his deer on Oct. 23 after getting a photo of the buck on a trail camera.

“The rack was scored as a typical 9-point with 21 abnormal points,” explained Moreland. “The typical score after deductions was 133. The abnormal points, a total of 70 5/8 inches, were then added to this score to produce the final net score of 203 5/8.”

Regarding public lands in the area, Loggy Bayou WMA located in Bossier Parish is a small gem of 6,381 acres that has four trophy whitetails listed in the Louisiana Big Game Records — two of which are non-typicals.

“There are some good bucks taken here occasionally, and an example of this is the 14-point buck killed by Amanda Fletcher Hinkie during the Thanksgiving hunt,” said Moreland. “The buck had a 25-inch inside spread and bases at 6 4/8 inches.”

Managed either-sex hunts at Loggy Bayou WMA usually are scheduled for three days following Thanksgiving, followed by a muzzleloader segment in late December and early January.

For more information regarding Loggy Bayou WMA, write or contact the LDWF, Wildlife Division, 1401 Talton St., Minden, LA 71055, (318) 371-3050.

Known for top-quality whitetails, Bienville Parish may be a sleeper when it comes to animals of record-book status. Private lands managed by the silviculture industry have produced many high-quality white-tailed deer, especially when these lands are managed by hunters.

The Louisiana Big Game Records indicate at least eight whitetails that score upwards to 160 B&C points having been taken in Bienville Parish.

Jackson-Bienville WMA is located 12 miles south of Ruston in Jackson, Bienville and Lincoln parishes. Its 32,185 acres are noted to hold adequate concentrations of best-quality deer.

Dates for gun hunting begin in mid-November and progress through December with many either-sex days.

For more information, contact the LDWF, Wildlife Division, 1401 Talton St., Minden, LA 71055; (318) 371-3050.

Central Louisiana
Bayou State smokepolers are certainly enamored with Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge’s 17,500 acres in Avoyelles Parish north of Marksville. These lands were once part of an immense hardwood bottomland tract bordering the Mississippi River.

In the past few years, this area has produced 14 magnificent trophy whitetails for muzzleloader opportunists. These trophies have ranged from 120 B&C points upwards to 168. Three two-day, weekend lottery hunts occur each year at this area — one in December and the others in January.

As for archery endeavors, the pressure is somewhat moderate in the area. There are three Pope & Young trophy typicals listed in the archery division here. The balance of the season is for bowhunting, along with three days of youth gun hunts.

For maps and more information, contact Lake Ophelia NWR, 401 Island Road, Marksville, LA 71351; (318) 253-4238.

St. Landry Parish is home to Thistlethwaite WMA, where a 180 5/8 B&C 13-pointer was taken in 1975 by Shawn Ortego of Ville Platte. This 11,000-acre palmetto-laden hardwoods paradise is located 4 1/2 miles north of Washington on state Route 10.

“Each and every season, it’s not uncommon to have a few bucks taken that score in the 140 B&C class range at Thistlethwaite,” said biologist manager Tony Vidrine with the LDWF’s Region VI. “Also, we have bucks in our records there weighing 250 to 275 pounds. One taken some years back weighed 333 pounds.”

More recently, 14-year-old Shreveport hunter Chris “Green” Campbell scored on the new No. 1 Louisiana non-typical in the muzzleloader category — a 30-point buck that scored 203 5/8 B&C Points.

“This deer takes over first place in the state record book and will qualify for the all-time Boone & Crockett record book,” said Moreland. “Green killed his deer on Oct. 23 after getting a photo of the buck on a trail camera.

“The rack was scored as a typical 9-point with 21 abnormal points,” explained Moreland. “The typical score after deductions was 133. The abnormal points, a total of 70 5/8 inches, were then added to this score to produce the final net score of 203 5/8.”

Regarding public lands in the area, Loggy Bayou WMA located in Bossier Parish is a small gem of 6,381 acres that has four trophy whitetails listed in the Louisiana Big Game Records — two of which are non-typicals.

“There are some good bucks taken here occasionally, and an example of this is the 14-point buck killed by Amanda Fletcher Hinkie during the Thanksgiving hunt,” said Moreland. “The buck had a 25-inch inside spread and bases at 6 4/8 inches.”

Managed either-sex hunts at Loggy Bayou WMA usually are scheduled for three days following Thanksgiving, followed by a muzzleloader segment in late December and early January.

For more information regarding Loggy Bayou WMA, write or contact the LDWF, Wildlife Division, 1401 Talton St., Minden, LA 71055, (318) 371-3050.

Known for top-quality whitetails, Bienville Parish may be a sleeper when it comes to animals of record-book status. Private lands managed by the silviculture industry have produced many high-quality white-tailed deer, especially when these lands are managed by hunters.

The Louisiana Big Game Records indicate at least eight whitetails that score upwards to 160 B&C points having been taken in Bienville Parish.

Jackson-Bienville WMA is located 12 miles south of Ruston in Jackson, Bienville and Lincoln parishes. Its 32,185 acres are noted to hold adequate
concentrations of best-quality deer.

Dates for gun hunting begin in mid-November and progress through December with many either-sex days.

For more information, contact the LDWF, Wildlife Division, 1401 Talton St., Minden, LA 71055; (318) 371-3050.

Central Louisiana
Bayou State smokepolers are certainly enamored with Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge’s 17,500 acres in Avoyelles Parish north of Marksville. These lands were once part of an immense hardwood bottomland tract bordering the Mississippi River.

In the past few years, this area has produced 14 magnificent trophy whitetails for muzzleloader opportunists. These trophies have ranged from 120 B&C points upwards to 168. Three two-day, weekend lottery hunts occur each year at this area — one in December and the others in January.

As for archery endeavors, the pressure is somewhat moderate in the area. There are three Pope & Young trophy typicals listed in the archery division here. The balance of the season is for bowhunting, along with three days of youth gun hunts.

For maps and more information, contact Lake Ophelia NWR, 401 Island Road, Marksville, LA 71351; (318) 253-4238.

St. Landry Parish is home to Thistlethwaite WMA, where a 180 5/8 B&C 13-pointer was taken in 1975 by Shawn Ortego of Ville Platte. This 11,000-acre palmetto-laden hardwoods paradise is located 4 1/2 miles north of Washington on state Route 10.

“Each and every season, it’s not uncommon to have a few bucks taken that score in the 140 B&C class range at Thistlethwaite,” said biologist manager Tony Vidrine with the LDWF’s Region VI. “Also, we have bucks in our records there weighing 250 to 275 pounds. One taken some years back weighed 333 pounds.”

As for the Louisiana Big Game Records, Thistlethwaite has delivered its share of trophy whitetails to the record book: two modern gun trophies, two archery trophies and three muzzleloader trophies.

Thistlethwaite is entering year four of a 10-year experiment designed to produce high-quality whitetail bucks on public lands. Quality management prescriptions here mandate that hunters only take spikes or bucks with at least 4 antler points (at least 1 inch long) on one side.

“We may see a few older bucks come out in 2008-09 at Thistlethwaite, but I give the experiment five years at least to begin showing significant differences in our harvest records,” said Vidrine.

The season schedule at Thistlethwaite WMA offers an either-sex gun hunt for three days following Thanksgiving. Another weekend of either-sex gun hunting usually occurs in early December.

A bucks-only segment is offered in late December through January, and the muzzleloader segment follows the bucks-only hunt. Archery pursuits make up the balance of the season.

For more information regarding policies and regulations, contact the LDWF Region VI, 5652 Hwy. 182, Opelousas, LA 70570; (337) 948-0255.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Indian Bayou Area is another area managed for first-quality whitetails in Central Louisiana. Its 28,480 acres is located St. Landry and St. Martin Parishes in the Atchafalaya Basin. This tract is mainly a bottomland hardwoods tract with inland swamp areas.

In 1999, Corps personnel initiated a 6-points-or-better rule on whitetails in the area.

Natural resource specialist Neil Lalonde reported that buck management proscriptions changed in 2007 to mandate the taking of spikes or bucks with at least 4 antler points at least 1 inch long on one side. The taking of any buck not meeting these restrictions is now prohibited.

“We decided it was best to collaborate with LDWF with regard to the QDM regulations existing on Thistlethwaite WMA in Region VI,” said Lalonde. “This would encourage a uniform enforcement effort in the area and at the same time meet our quality management practices on Indian Bayou.”

According to Lalonde, approximately 30 to 40 percent more bucks have entered the 2 1/2- to 3 1/2- year old age-classes since 1999-2000.

Either-sex gun hunts usually run here for three days following Thanksgiving and a weekend in mid-December.

Also, a muzzleloader-only gun hunt is scheduled in December. Bucks-only hunting for the area’s deer occurs in January. Permits are necessary for hunting on the Indian Bayou Area, and these can be found on bulletin boards on the location.

Maps and permits can be obtained by contacting the USACE office at Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System Project Office, 112 Speck Lane, Port Barre, LA 70577; 337-585-0853.

* * *

And there you have it: new listings of trophy bucks and info on where you might get to put a tag on one this coming season. Who knows? Maybe your name will appear in the Louisiana Big Game Records Program after success this season

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