Louisiana's 2007 Deer Outlook -- Part 2: Top Areas For Trophy Bucks

Louisiana's 2007 Deer Outlook -- Part 2: Top Areas For Trophy Bucks

You've seen the rest -- now hunt the best! (November 2007)

Photo by Ralph Hensley.

Without a doubt, deer hunting in Louisiana has changed over the years -- and more than ever, the focus increasingly turns towards Quality Deer Management on much of the private and public habitat available for whitetail hunting in the Bayou State.

"Our opinion surveys consistently demonstrate that a large majority of hunters -- around 80 percent -- are interested in types of quality deer management strategies in Louisiana," said Scott Durham, deer study leader with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

"Landowners and lessees enrolled in the state's Deer Management Assistance Program are willing to do much of what we prescribe in order to recruit younger bucks into older quality whitetails," stated the deer study leader.

Quality Deer Management can be defined as a deer management option mandating the harvest of a prescribed number of bucks and does. Such practices along with improving the carrying capacity of the habitat should result in the increased recruitment of younger bucks into the adult segment of the deer herd.

These management strategies have been practiced in the Bayou State since the early 1970s on private lands along the Mississippi River Delta. As a result, high-quality and trophy deer abound in these river parishes, making parcels of real estate in this storied area quite expensive to lease for club members and other private individuals.

Quality management throughout the state has included restrictions on the number of antler points, main-beam lengths and inside spread, as well as measures taken to ensure adequate doe harvests. In addition, club lessees have engaged in tremendous efforts to supplement the already diverse habitat here with spacious greenfields in strategic locations.

Have these restrictions worked? Yes, and quite remarkably so -- especially if you look at the Louisiana Big Game Records for whitetails in the archery division. Many trophies have resulted, and bucks from these specific river parishes are quite numerous in the records.

Regarding public lands, those in the Mississippi River drainage region offer the best odds at high-quality and trophy whitetails. These lands include: Big Lake Wildlife Management Area in Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes; the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, in Madison and Tensas parishes; Three Rivers and Red River WMAs, in lower Concordia Parish; Lake Ophelia NWR, in Avoyelles Parish; and Thistlethwaite WMA, in St. Landry Parish."

Biologist David Moreland, chairman of the Louisiana Big Game Records Committee, has been busy this year measuring antlers of first-quality and trophy status throughout the Bayou State.

"It appears that deer growth and antler development were good during the spring and summer of 2006,"he said, "and we've officially measured over 19 deer that qualify for the Louisiana Big Game Records and/or the Louisiana Big Game Records Recognition Program."

In 2006-07, Moreland reported, the state's Big Buck List featured some 24 entries ranging from a 180 B&C typical in the gun division to a 102 typical taken by bow.

In determining characteristics of record-book bucks, Moreland explained, Louisiana uses the same measuring system established by the Boone and Crockett and Pope & Young Awards Programs. The Longhunter Society also uses the Boone and Crockett measuring system to rank trophy whitetails taken by muzzleloader.

Minimum standards for white-tailed deer trophies to be listed in the Louisiana Big Game Records for a whitetails taken by gun is 160 B&C points for the typical category and 185 B&C points for the non-typical category. For archery they are 110 B&C points (typical) and 130 B&C points (non-typical).

A muzzleloader category was also established in 1992 in response to the growing popularity in this sport. In the Louisiana Big Game Records Program, muzzleloader typical trophies are ranked beginning at 120 B&C points for typicals and 150 B&C points for non-typicals.

Minimum entry B&C scores for the state's three-year Big Game Recognition program are as follows: typical/gun -- 130; non-typical/gun -- 165; typical/ archery -- 90; non-typical/ archery -- 100; typical/ muzzleloader -- 110; non-typical/ muzzleloader -- 130.

For more information regarding the Louisiana Big Game Records and trophy whitetail hunting in Louisiana, write or contact: David Moreland, Louisiana Big Game Records Chairman, LDWF, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000; (225) 765-2358.

The Louisiana Big Game Records can be downloaded in their entirety from the LDWF's Web site; the full URL is www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/biggamehunts.

According to Moreland, the LDWF will initiate a deer registry for youth hunters beginning with the 2007-08 season. Youth hunters, 15 years of age or younger, can register their deer, buck or doe, large or small, with the LDWF. The LDWF will recognize these youth hunters, especially those who may have killed their first deer. This registry will be located on the department Web site -- www. wlf.louisiana.gov -- on the page containing the Louisiana Big Game Records. Youth hunters can also mail photographs of their deer to the Big Game Program at LDWF, PO Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA, 70898, Attention: LA Big Game Records.

TROPHY HABITAT: RIVERS RUN THROUGH IT

Deer hunters have only to analyze the Louisiana Big Game Records for Whitetails in order to get a perspective of where to find trophy whitetails.

Louisiana's trophy white-tailed deer tend to appear along the historic river drainages of the Mississippi and Red River systems in Louisiana. This fact also correlates nicely with what is observed in national Boone and Crockett records for the entire North American Continent. The entire Mississippi River Basin is widely celebrated for delivering truly immense trophy whitetails in large numbers.

"Our deer records are a direct reflection of the habitat on which the animal was produced," Moreland said. "All of the top public land deer taken between 1998 and 2007 were killed on public lands with bottomland hardwood habitat."

Upon viewing the records from 1914 to 1959 (prior to deer management), you will gather that the majority of trophy whitetails recorded fell along the Mississippi River delta. Of the 16 trophy deer taken during that period, 13 were clearly noted as having come from the river-basin p

arishes of Madison, Tensas, Concordia and Pointe Coupee.

One of those trophies is the all-time No. 1 typical taken in Louisiana; harvested in Madison Parish in 1943 by Don Broadway, it scored 184 6/8 B&C points. Another impressive whitetail trophy taken at this time was a 184 2/8 B&C typical taken in 1914 by Dr. H.B. Womble in Franklin Parish.

Regarding non-typical trophies taken during the same period, Dr. Joseph Shields harvested a 252 2/8 B&C non-typical in 1948 in Concordia Parish. Two other Concordia Parish non-typicals are noteworthy -- one at 216 7/8 B&C points and the other scoring at 214 7/8 B&C points.

Two other trophies arguably could have been harvested from river basin stock -- a 218 4/8 B&C non-typical taken by Drew Ware in St. Martin Parish (Atchafalaya River Basin); and a 170 3/8 B&C trophy taken by Stephen M. White, Sr. in 1945 in Morehouse Parish (Ouachita River Basin).

Reviewing all of the records listed from 1914 to the present, another river system appears to have delivered its share of trophy whitetails to Louisiana records. The Red River, coursing through parts of Caddo, Bossier, Red River, Natchitoches, Grant, Rapides, Catahoula and Avoyelles parishes, is associated with some 93 trophies listed -- 41 of which were taken by modern firearms, 27 by bow and 25 by muzzleloader.

A recent addition to the harvest is a 180 B&C typical taken by Shane Spears in Grant Parish. It will be ranked as the new No. 7 typical in Louisiana Big Game Records.

For more information, contact the Tensas River NWR, 2312 Quebec Road, Tallulah, LA 71282; (318) 574-2664.

Immediately south of Tensas River NWR lies Big Lake WMA, which in January 1994 surrendered to James McMurray of Gilbert the top non-typical whitetail ever to be rattled in on public lands anywhere. At 281 6/8 B&C, McMurray's 30-pointer ranks among the top 10 non-typical trophy whitetails ever killed on the North American continent.

With portions lying in Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes 12 miles east of Gilbert, Big Lake consists of 19,231 acres of bottomland hardwoods. For maps, season dates and more information regarding Big Lake WMA, write or call the LDWF, P.O. Box 1640, Ferriday, LA 71334; telephone (318) 757-4571.

In Concordia Parish, Three Rivers and Red River WMAs make available to the deer-hunting public over 60 thousand acres of bottomland hardwoods. A review of the Louisiana Big Game Records for whitetails will find this parish listed in almost all categories, especially in the non-typical trophy list.

Expect these lands to deliver more trophy bucks, especially if cold temperatures descend on the region during the rut in late December and January. Hunting during the pre-rut begins the Friday following Thanksgiving.

For more information on these lands, call or write the LDWF, P.O. Box 1640, Ferriday, LA 71334; telephone (318) 757-4571.

North of Marksville, Lake Ophelia NWR's 17,500 Avoyelles Parish acres were once part of an immense hardwood bottomland tract bordering the Mississippi River. In the past few years, this area has produced several magnificent trophy whitetails for archers and smokepolers. Three two-day weekend lottery hunts occur each year at this area, one in December and the others in January. The balance of the season is for bowhunting and three days of youth gun hunts.

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

Find more about Louisiana fishing and hunting at: LAgameandfish.com

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