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contents Volume 33 | Number 12 | December 2013

Features: thrasher 39 Thicket Jackson Bienville WMA is a popular meat-haul for cover story

many hunters, but it’s also home to some brute bucks. Learn how this regular targets trophy public-land deer. >>>By Glynn Harris

fever Tide bass 46 Pothole 103 Yule Private leases can provide fantastic duck-hunting Cold water temperatures can definitely make bass opportunities, but the small publicly accessible openings along the Boeuf River are filled with ducks. >>>By Jerald Horst

Easy Button 66 The You can find trout in a lot of places in the Louisiana marsh, but these anglers know a spot that doesn’t even require cranking the main motor. Learn how they mine Geoghegan Canal to load the boat. >>>By Chris Ginn

fishing more difficult, but the Blue Bird Canal south of Houma is filled with fish. Here’s one coastal angler’s suggestions on boating a few. >>>By John Flores


Deer management is all the rage today, introducing the concept of passing up bucks to allow them to mature. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. >>>By Dave Moreland

the Zoo 81 Hunting Most hunters recognize deer management as a goal, but only a few are willing to put out the effort necessary to produce trophy deer. This hunting club just across the state line bought into a program at its inception, and now members enjoy unreal hunting. >>>By Andy Crawford

Tracking a Booner — The Rest of the Story


Deep in Dularge

Cold fronts should keep water temperatures in the cellar this month, but that doesn’t mean Dularge trout won’t bite. You just have to know where to go and how to fish. >>>By Rusty Tardo

chill 94 Vermilion ’em move This month the Vermilion Bay will clog with boats 145 Making You and your buds can sit in tree stands and wait full of anglers taking advantage of the annual trout run, but this guide knows where he can catch just as many fish without fighting the crowds. >>>By Jerald Horst


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

on deer to stumble by, or you can take the initiate and up your odds. Here’s how. >>>By Humberto Fontova

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


66 The Easy



Yule Tide bass


News Breakers:

14 195

West Monroe hunter kills 170-inch deer

ColumNs: 10 12 152 154 156 160

First Cast By Andy Crawford Letters to the Editor Creature Feature By Jerald Horst Ask Capt. Paul By Captain Paul Titus Fly Lines By Catch Cormier Grunts & Gobbles By David Moreland

166 Lure Review By Don Shoopman 168 Marine Electronics By Allan Tarvid

170 The Shootist By Gordon Hutchinson 174 Seafood Bible By Jerald & Glenda Horst 178 Paddles ‘n Puddles By Chris Holmes

182 Game Warden By Keith LaCaze 186 Happy Trails By Bill Garbo 224 Toledo Bend By John Dean 8

Ferriday’s Jason Archer shook up the deerhunting community in November when he knocked down what could be the largest Louisiana typical buck on record. Read the story on page 14 for all the details.

Potential state-record buck killed in Concordia Parish

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

DepartmeNts: 112 204 206 208 210 212 214 216 218 222 246 248 252 257

Monthly Rut Calendar World Wild Web New Products Tips & Tactics Hunting Scrapbook Hunting Regulations Sunrise/Sunset Chart Sportsman Moon Tables Sportsman Tide Guide Fishing Forecast Louisiana Guides Sportsman Classifieds Reader Report Advertiser Index

Publisher: Tony Taylor editor: Andy Crawford internet Managing editor: Patrick Bonin editorial assistant: Alicia LaFont V.P. sales & Marketing: Mark Hilzim Production director: Jeff Caldwell Production Manager: Shelley Vicknair Moore assistant Production Manager: Desiree P. Lewis Production artist: Cassie Zimmerman art director: Rodney Anouilh graPhic designers: Heather Michael, Kevin Orgeron, Alissa Zeringue adVertising sales: Mark Boyd, Ronnie Cheramie, Clay Peltier, Greg Webb controller: Juanita Guidry circulation director: Ricky Naquin circulation Field rePresentatiVes: Tim Stiglets, Shelby Wheat credit Manager: Rachel Champagne chieF Financial oFFicer: Bruce Mehrtens contributing Writers: Catch Cormier, John Flores, Humberto Fontova, Bill Garbo, Chris Ginn, Glynn Harris, Chris Holmes, Jerald Horst, Gordon Hutchinson, Keith LaCaze, David Moreland, Don Shoopman, Rusty Tardo, Allan Tarvid, Anthony Taylor, Capt. Paul Titus editorial inquiries, e-Mail: adVertising inquiries, e-Mail: / 985-758-7217

subscriptions or subscription issues, call 1-855-223-3599 subscriPtion Manager: Duane Hruzek 1-855-223-3599 louisiana sPortsMan (usPs665390) is published monthly by Louisiana Publishing, Inc., Allen J. Lottinger, President, 14236 Highway 90, P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA 70039. Mailed at periodicals postage rates and paid at Baton Rouge, La., and additional mailing offices. PostMaster: Send address changes to Louisiana Sportsman, P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA 70039. All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents is strictly prohibited without permission of Louisiana Sportsman. editorial: Louisiana Sportsman uses free-lance writers throughout the state. Call (985) 758-7217 for information on submitting articles and photos. Louisiana Sportsman is not responsible for the loss of queries, manuscripts or other materials.

P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA 70039-1199 800.538.4355

Volume 33 | No 12

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

ow, that’s awful! Why on earth (would you) kill this poor creature(?) Damn!”

That’s just one of the comments attached to a Facebook promotion for a story about how blogger Josh Chauvin killed a bobcat during a hunt on Richard K. Yancey WMA earlier this fall. That note, along with several others from obvious animal-rights folks, wasn’t a surprise — other than the fact that these bunnyhuggers were fans of a page dedicated to hunting and fishing. Or maybe that’s the plan: Like hunting and fishing pages, and then use those platforms to espouse the “all animals should be left to skip happily through the woods” philosophy that seems to drive these misguided souls. But what was surprising was the number of comments from Louisiana Sportsman fans who claimed to be sportsmen but thought the photo should not have been used. “Why would you shoot that?” one user asked. “Population control is the excuse too many use for killing! Pretty soon having 10 wild cats left will be too many for a hunter that has NO respect for wildlife. I can support deer hunting and keeping wild pigs numbers down. But this was a stupid kill unless it was about to eat your child or destroying your livestock!” How one can selectively support hunting is a mystery to me. Either you’re a hunter or you aren’t. But it goes beyond that. Read what another reader — again, one who professed to support hunting — wrote: “Just think this was a horrible PR move on the magazine’s part.” What? Shooting a legal animal (remember that each licensed hunter is allowed by law to shoot one bobcat per year) and distributing the photo is a bad public relations move? Obviously, some believe all we have to do is hide photos showing the results of our hunts and anti-hunters will stop attacking the sport we all love. The fact is that nothing you or I do will ever make the antihunting crowd hold our hands and sing Kumbaya. Folks, they hate what we do. Period. Now, should we throw our deer on the hoods of our trucks and parade them around town? Nope. Should we post photos of blood-soaked animals on Facebook? Probably not. But we should be proud of our hunting successes. Believe me if the day comes when I kill a Boone & Crockett buck, I’ll show photos to everyone I run into. If you are a fan of a hunting magazine’s Facebook page, guess what? You’re sure to see dead animals. It’s part of the sport. And as long as kills fall within the boundaries of existing hunting and fishing regulations, Louisiana Sportsman and its social media pages will be the platforms to show off these trophies. So let’s stop being politically correct in hopes that we don’t offend someone. Instead, Andy Crawford let’s celebrate the hunthas spent most of his career ing sports and share the writing about Louisiana’s outdoors. He can be reached at excitement with the next generation. That’s the only way we’ll win the battle. ■

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


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‘Name calling’ unnecessary Dear Editor, First I must tell you Louisiana Sportsman is the only magazine I continue to subscribe to after 30 years of buying magazines. After I read your opening monologue (First Cast, November 2013), I might not renew it, as well. I can’t believe you would use this as a forum for “name calling” when you are trying to express a point of view about how dysfunctional Washington has become. I have to believe (and I know for fact) there are many Americans who have served this country very patriotically who might disagree with you about being a “left-wing commie.” We on the left believe that most of the bigoted, racist, women-hating right are just as unpatriotic and communist for letting a whole class of society die on the vine. I hope in the future you will make your point and not ostracize a fairly large portion of you loyal audience. Sincerely, Ronny Hennigan Editor’s response: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ronny. Obviously, no insult was meant. I was simply trying to illustrate that, whether you’re as far to the political left as possible or an Attila the Hun right-winger, the happenings in Washington, D.C., should be unacceptable. While some might argue governmental gridlock is a good thing, we have to understand that when our politicians refuse to work together everyone in the outdoors community — regardless of individual political affiliations — often suffer. — Andy Crawford

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


news breakers

Potential state-record buck killed 70-year-old record could fall By Glynn Harris


erriday’s Jason Archer helped friends sight in their primitive firearms on Nov. 9, opening day for that segment of the deer season in Concordia Parish, when the 42-yearold and his cousin looked at their watches and decided they had time for a late afternoon hunt. Since all Archer had seen so far from his stand had been feral hogs, he was intent on shooting a pig. Instead, the hunt ended with the hunter bagging a real “hawg” of a buck with a rack and body weight of outlandish proportions. The deer has been rough scored at more than 210 inches typcial Boone and Crockett. If that score stands, it would be the largest typical buck ever killed with a gun in the state, according to the Louisiana Big Game Records. It also would be larger than the non-typical primitive-weapons record and compare to the Top 15 bucks on the non-typical rifle list. “I hunt on my cousin’s land, which is only five miles or so from where I live in Ferriday,” Archer said. “(My cousin) and I grabbed our guns, jumped on my golf cart and headed out to hunt. I dropped him off at his stand and got into my Millennium lockon stand I’d hung there earlier for bow hunting.” The stand offered Archer a good view of a weed-choked, driedup pond out front, but his view to the right was blocked by a limb he had deliberately left because it would conceal his location to any deer walking the old road until it was close enough for a bow shot. That limb would cause Archer a major problem before the day was out. “I had my trail camera out, and the only deer I’d seen on camera were pictures taken at night; I hadn’t seen a single deer from my stand,” he said. “I hadn’t been sitting long with I spotted the first deer I’d seen all year, a small basket-racked 8-point buck that came out of the CRP land and headed into the weeds on the old dry pond. He was followed by a fairly nice 10-point buck.” As Archer watched the two bucks mill around in the old pond, something else caught his eye and immediately — and his quest for bacon quickly faded. The biggest buck he had ever seen stepped onto the pond levee and started browsing on briars growing there. “You talk about a case of nerves; I really started getting seriously nervous when I saw the size of that buck,” Archer said. “If it had not been for that limb I left near my stand, I would have had a clear shot at him, but the limb blocked my view.” Archer, who shoots from his right shoulder, tried twisting as far as he could for a shot, but it wasn’t to be. So he did the next best thing: He switched to his left shoulder and, by leaning out


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Jason Archer wasn’t even really deer hunting when this 200-class buck walked into range. as far as he dared, he was able to get the buck in the sights of his Thompson Center Encore .35 Whelen. He fired, and the buck stumbled and then took off for the CRP from which it had emerged. “I’m sitting there getting more nervous by the second,” Archer said. “I waited until dark, got down and went and got my cousin to start the search to see if I’d hit the deer. I was discouraged when we found only a couple of specks of blood at the spot he was standing when I shot. “However, as we followed the trail, we began finding more blood and walked up on the buck that had only traveled about 50 yards into the CRP.” The buck the two hunters were standing over had a rack that boggles the mind. Sporting 16 points, the massive, high and wide rack featured 23 ½ inches of space between the main beams that each stretched to an incredible 29 7/8 inches. Bases were more than 7 inches around, and the buck tipped the scales at a whopping 288 pounds. Archer took the buck to a certified Buckmaster’s scorer who green scored it at 223 7/8 inches. The buck was taken to Simmons Sporting Goods to be entered in the store’s annual Big Buck Contest where it was scored as a typical at 210 7/8 inches. ■

Louisiana Top 10 typical deer Score 1. 184 6/8 2. 184 4/8 3. 184 2/8 4. 181 1/8 5. 180 5/8 6. 180 4/8 7. 179 7/8 8. 179 6/8 9. 179 2/8 10. 177 7/8

Parish Madison Bossier Franklin Avoyelles St. Landry Madison Tensas Union St. Landry LaSalle

Hunter Date Don Broadway 1943 Ernest O. McCoy 1961 Dr. H.B. Womble 1914 Donald Riviere 1998 Shawn P. Ortego 1975 Bufurd Perry 1961 Anthony Guice 1995 Bill Crandord 1963 Shannon Deville 2001 Jim Nick Gray 1996 * Source: LDWF

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news breakers

'Trash Head' turns out to be 180-inch treasure

22-pointer features double drop tines By Patrick Bonin


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Courtesy of Eric Regard


one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, Gray Marston struck gold when he finally shot a big buck he had nicknamed Trash Head on Nov. 10 in southern Natchitoches Parish. The 22-point non-typical weighed in at 215 pounds and green scored 183 inches with a 19 ½-inch spread that included matching drop tines, but Marston didn’t realize he had actually shot Trash Head until after the hunt when he was going through trail cam pics on his computer. “I only have four pictures of him, and they were all at night and all looking at him from the side,” said Marston, 24, a Shreveport geologist who works for JM Exploration. “I named him Trash Head because, when you look at him straight on he’s magnificent, but when you look at him from the side he just looks crazy. “I don’t know if he lived on our farm or around it, but this is the first year I’ve seen him. I was not expecting that deer to walk out at all.” Marston had gotten to his box stand positioned in a clump of trees overlooking three shooting lanes around 5:30 that chilly morning, with a negligible wind blowing into his face. “The funny thing is, being right handed I was sitting in the stand tucked into the back right corner because I wasn’t expecting anything to come out to my right,” he said. “The best lanes are the one right in front of me and the one to my left.” A pair of does walked through early, and Marston was looking at his cell phone when he noticed something to his right. “So I look — and I wear glasses and my vision’s not great — but I could see this deer had a big body and I could see it was a buck, but I didn’t want to turn my head too much,” Marston said. “And then he looked away from me and I could see a big drop tine on his left side and so I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, me.’” The big buck eyed the box stand warily from about 60 yards as he ate from the food plot, but Marston was ill-positioned inside because he wasn’t expecting a deer from that direction. “When he looked away, I had to move the chair off that wall in the corner to get my gun out the window, and I did that. I looked at him through the scope and I was trying to make sure

Shreveport's Gray Marston shot this non-typical 22-pointer on Nov. 10 in southern Natchitoches Parish. The big buck green scored 183 inches Boone and Crockett. he was a real big buck, but I knew by his drop tine he was,” he said. “Basically, as I was getting my scope out, he looks right at me and like in all one motion, I shot and he took off running. “It didn’t even look like he’d been hit.” But the .270 Winchester short mag round hit home behind the buck’s left shoulder, and Marston heard a crash in the woods seconds later. “I knew to wait and give him some time, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I got down and I looked and found blood, and that’s when I knew I was in business. “And I really didn’t wait long enough, but I ran in there and followed the blood trail all the way to him. That’s why I’m big on hunting the rut: You never know what’s going to walk out.” Two friends hunting on the property joined him to check out the buck and the amazing rack — and celebratory texts, phone calls and pictures ensued. “I called my dad to tell him and he didn’t answer me, so I left a voice mail telling him about this deer,” Marston said. “He played it back for me, and it was just about inaudible. "I was rambling on, saying all kinds of crazy stuff. I was excited.” ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


news breakers

Hunter arrows 160-inch 11-pointer Melville hunter kills deer on Avoyells Parish hunt By Patrick Bonin


amian Leonards picked the perfect time — the afternoon Oct. 15 — to finally make his first bow hunt of the year in Avoyelles Parish. And his patience paid off big time. The 46-year-old farm manager from Melville took a break from his busy work schedule and headed for a tree stand he installed several weeks ago along a thickly wooded trail he thought bucks might be using to enter a nearby soybean field. “I manage a farm, and I’ve seen this deer three times in a bachelor group during my daily activities in the last few weeks,” Leonards said. About an hour into his afternoon hunt, he started seeing several does moving through the area from his 20-foot-high perch. “As the sun started to go down, deer activity started to pick up,” he said. After the does came and went, he heard another deer moving through the woods. “I kept waiting for the bachelor group to be honest. I figured I’d see the lesser bucks first, but the first buck I saw was this deer,” Leonards said. “That kind of caught me by surprise. I could see him and I recognized him as being one in the group.” He was unable to get off an initial shot on the big buck with his PSE Stingray, and watched as another doe approached the tree where his climber was located. “I could hear her sniffing the tree, trying to pick up on something,” he said. “Finally he gave me a quartering-away shot, but I couldn’t see what she was doing beneath me. But I went ahead and drew back and she didn’t blow out, so I knew she didn’t see me. “I put my pin behind his shoulder on his rib cage and released the arrow, and he bolted and left,” said Leonards, who had positioned himself about 17 yards from the trail. “When I shot the deer I waited for a crash because quartering away is a deadly, deadly shot. And there was no crash, so I instantly felt something was wrong.” He waited a while before exiting the stand, and found his arrow about 20 yards from the spot of his initial shot, but on the opposite side of the trail. “I knew I had a pass-through. The arrow was covered in blood,


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Damian Leonards, 46, of Melville, arrowed this 11-pointer Oct. 15 in Avoyelles Parish on his first bow hunt of the year. The deer rough scored more than 160 inches Pope and Young. but it was brown. It wasn’t good blood at all, and it stunk,” Leonards said. “I thought, ‘Oh, this is bad right here.’ “ Darkness was falling, so he stuck the arrow in the ground to mark the spot and decided to return early the next morning to see if he could locate the big buck. He came back about 7:15 Wednesday in misty conditions with rain threatening, and started slowly circling the area looking for blood, hair or any signs of the deer. He eventually discovered only three specks of blood, but finally found heavy tracks that led him across a road in the woods as rain started to come down. Just beyond the road, he found the buck dead up against a log, about 150- to 200-yards from the initial shot. “I hit him way back in the flank and it came out by the last rib on the opposite side,” Leonards said. “It was a horrible shot, but the good Lord blessed me and I was able to recover the deer.” The buck weighed in at 265 pounds and was rough-scored by Leonards’ taxidermist at about 160 inches Pope and Young. He’s a mainframe 10-pointer with a drop kicker on the right beam between G1 and G2, with a 20 ½-inch inside spread. It’s the largest buck ever for Leonards, who killed his first deer when he was 10 years old. “Tuesday night weighed heavy on me. I didn’t want this buck to be wasted,” he said. “I was fortunate and very blessed. It was meant two be.” ■


news breakers

Two cited in connection with illegal deer kills


By: Jeff Badeaux




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ouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents cited two men this week for alleged deer hunting violations that occurred earlier this month in Avoyelles and Rapides parishes, according to a press release. Barry B. Laiche, 17, of Marksville, and Travis Maddox, 26, of Echo, were cited for taking deer using illegal methods, possession of illegally taken deer, failing to comply with deer tagging requirements, taking illegal deer during an open season and hunting on Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) lands without permission. In addition, Maddox was cited for hunting without a big game license, the release states. Agents received a tip stating that Laiche and Maddox had illegally killed five deer on or about Oct. 7 or 8 on Grand Lake Rod and Gun Club property, and that Laiche had driven his truck onto the property to retrieve the deer, the release states. Upon arriving at Laiche’s home to question him regarding the case, agents found blood and hair in the bed and on the tailgate of his truck. They learned that Laiche was incarcerated in the Avoyelles Parish Jail on non-related charges, the release states. According to the release, Laiche later admitted during questioning that he and Maddox used a .308-caliber and 45-70 caliber rifle to take the five deer. A search warrant was obtained for Laiche’s residence, where agents seized photos of three antlerless deer and two antlered deer, as well as antlers from a 7-point buck, the release states. Agents then arrested Maddox and booked him into the Avoyelles Parish Jail, the release states. Possession of illegally taken deer brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Taking illegal deer during an open season carries a $500 to $750 fine and 15 to 30 days in jail. Taking deer using illegal methods brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Failing to comply with deer tagging requirements and hunting on DMAP lands without permission from land owner each carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Hunting without a resident big game license brings up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail, according to the release. ■


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news breakers

2014 Bass Championship Open scheduled $35,000 total payout possible; $12,000 first-place prize guaranteed

By Andy Crawford


ast March, St. Martinsville’s Andre F. Cazelot and Brooke Morrison of Youngsville walked away with a cool $14,000 after rising to the top of the two-day Yamaha-Skeeter Louisiana Sportsman Bass Championship Open. Their take included the $12,000 firstplace prize plus big-bass payout for catch-

The top prize will again be $12,000, and the top 25 teams will receive payouts. While the first-place payout is guaranteed, total payout is based on 125 boats. The Bass Championship Open is a two-day event during which anglers will fish the Atchafalaya Basin. Launch will be held each day at Doiron’s Landing

Andre Cazelot and Brooke Morrison earned $14,000 for two days of fishing in the 2013 Louisiana Sportsman Bass Championship Open. The 2014 event is scheduled for March.

Andy Crawford


ing an 8.34-pounder on the final day of the event . And the top 20 teams shared the rest of the $35,000 total payout. You chance at the spotlight — and for winning a pile of money — comes March 15-16, when the third annual Bass Championship Open will be held.

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

For More information visit or contact: Cayce Gunter / Tournament Director Phone: 985-758-7939 in Stephensville, and participants can fish either in the Basin itself or the Lake Verret system. The only rule change this year pertains to what waters are open for competitors. The new rule reads: “Off limit waters are waters that are gated or for any reason are not accessible to/by the general public.” The first-day weigh-in will be conducted at Doiron’s, but the final-day weigh-in will be held at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in conjunction with the Louisiana Sportsman Show. “We’ll have a stage set up so show visitors can watch the weigh-in, and anglers will be driven to the stage in their boats — just like the Bassmaster Classic,” the Sportsman Show's Jack Fisher explained. Entry fee is $250 per team, which includes tournament entry, participation in the bigbass kitty and the launch fee. “The Louisiana Sportsman Bass Championship Open is limited to the first 200 teams who pay their entry fee, so don’t wait to get your registration complete,” Fisher said. Complete rules and entry forms can be found online at LouisianaSportsmanShow. com under the “Bass Tournament” tab. Questions can be directed to tournament director Cayce Gunter at 985-758-7939 or ■

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news breakers

80-acre Sabine tract gives up 150-class buck

Deer falls during after-work hunting trip By Glynn Harris


wolle’s Keith Brown leases a small 80-acre tract in Sabine Parish in a hardwood bottom surrounded by a 1,700-acre pine plantation. While deer utilize the pines for seclusion, they venture into the hardwoods late in the day to feed. On Nov. 1, a 12-point buck Brown had seen in trail cam photos and patterned all season left the pines for the hardwoods late in the afternoon and found itself in the crosshairs of his 7mm Mag. “I left my job as a trucking superintendent in Mansfield early that afternoon around 3:30 and was in my box stand just after 4. The stand is situated along a pipeline that runs through my lease. Although the deer feed on acorns in the hardwoods, I had scattered corn along the right of way to attract does that I hoped would lure this buck in,” he said. Earlier in the season, he tagged two does with his .444, so with meat in the freezer, he was no longer interested in taking a doe. He said he formerly dog-hunted with some guys who had the motto “If it’s brown, it’s down,” but after getting his venison, he targets only mature bucks he knows utilize the area. “Soon after I got on the stand, some does and yearlings came out on the line and were eating corn. Since I was not ‘meathunting, I just watched them. However, I noticed that they kept looking back toward the thicket so I put my gun in the window facing that direction. “It started to get late and I knew I didn’t have much time left to hunt that day. Then I heard some wood ducks get up and fly out of a slough on my right and I wondered if something had spooked them. Suddenly a big doe burst from the pine thicket and shot across the pipeline. I repositioned my gun to the window facing the pipeline when the big buck stuck his head out of the thicket.” The buck stood for a few seconds looking toward the stand and then began trotting across the lane following the doe. “Ordinarily, I’ll grunt or whistle at a buck to stop him, but I guess I was too excited to actually see the buck I’d been after all season trotting along at 80 yards. I got him in the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger just before he got into the woods,” he said. After waiting for a few minutes, Brown climbed down and went to the spot where the deer was when he shot. He found evidence of a hit, and located the big buck only 20 yards away. The buck was a main frame 10-point with two sticker points. The inside spread measured 16 ¾ inches, with main beams more than 20 inches each. Bases were 5 ¼ inches each, and the mass carried over the length of the rack. 22

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Keith Brown, of Zwolle, poses with the big 12-pointer he took down on Nov. 1 in Sabine Parish. The big buck weighed 197 pounds and green scored 151 7/8 inches. “I took him to a taxidermist who scored him for me at 151 7/8. The deer weighed 197 pounds and was probably 5 ½ years old. “I used to dog hunt but I don’t do that anymore. I switched to still hunting only when I realized the potential this area has to produce some good deer,if they’re not pressured,” he said. “I’ve passed up some small bucks this year, and I’m really glad I waited for this big old buck to come along.” ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


news breakers

Duck count second lowest on record LDWF aerial survey in November indicates few ducks in Louisiana By Patrick Bonin


arry Reynolds’ concerns in a story last week about fewer numbers of ducks in the state were confirmed this week after he conducted an aerial survey over Louisiana’s coastal zone. The just-released November 2013 survey estimates count only 1.02 million ducks, about 30-percent lower than both last November and the five-year average of 1.44 million. It’s the second lowest total since the survey began in 1969, and it includes the lowest number of mallards ever on record. “We’ve got no scaup and a thousand mallards. We’ve got low numbers of all species except blue-wings,” said Reynolds, the state’s waterfowl study leader. “We’re just late. Everything is late.” The report indicates that two-thirds of the ducks in coastal Louisiana were counted in the southwest part of the state, where concentrations of grays were noted in the marsh south of the East Cove Unit of Cameron Prairie NWR and just west of Rockefeller Refuge. Additionally, large numbers of teal were counted in the marsh between White Lake and Pecan Island. According to the report, surprisingly few ducks were seen around the Delacroix marshes and during flights over Atchafalaya Delta WMA despite good habitat conditions in both locations. The largest group of ducks in southeast Louisiana was seen near Delta National Wildlife Refuge, the report states. Despite the low numbers, Reynolds was encouraged by the habitat conditions he saw across the coastal zone, and suggested hunters go out and hunt. “We know the ducks are north of us, but find the good habitat and hunt. You can kill plenty of ducks, you just have to find ‘em,” he said. “Just because the number of ducks in the area is low doesn’t mean you can’t have success. It just means you many have to work harder.” The Mallard Migration Network, which can be viewed online here, is a Mississippi-Flyway based activity that tracks the mallard migration south in real time using the input of more than 100 spotters across the central United States. Their current on-line map agrees with the aerial survey, and indicates the majority of mallards heading south have only made it as far as about Iowa, with the largest numbers of birds still remaining in Canada. Reynolds is optimistic large numbers of birds will arrive in the next three to four weeks. “The biggest change in our surveys is typically between the November and December survey,” he said. “I hope when I fly this survey in December we’re going to see normal numbers of birds, which would be twice as many as we saw in this one.” ■


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

While state biologists predicted dismal duck numbers in early November, many hunters — including Josh Hebert — enjoyed good hunting when the 2013-14 season began.

November 2013 aerial survey results Species Southwest Southeast Catahoula Lake Mallard 1,000 0 < 1,000 Mottled 19,000 15,000 0 Gadwall 334,000 144,000 35,000 Wigeon 9,000 4,000 2,000 GW Teal 99,000 34,000 5,000 BW Teal 68,000 58,000 14,000 Shoveler 37,000 4,000 13,000 Pintail 9,000 21,000 64,000 Scaup < 1,000 < 1,000 < 1,000 Ringnecked 5,000 < 1,000 21,000 Canvasback 0 0 0 Total divers 5,000 0 21,000 Total ducks 581,000 280,000 154,000

Totals 1,000 34,000 513,000 15,000 138,000 140,000 54,000 94,000 0 26,000 0 26,000 1,015,000

Opening-weekend hunts surprisingly productive Many hunters across the coast found plenty of birds to shoot during the opening weekend of the 2013-14 waterfowl season last month — a welcome turn of events in light of the extremely low duck counts turned in by state biologists. Read more about the opening-weekend hunts at Also log onto to keep up with all the duck-hunting news.

news breakers

Deputy moves stand, downs

150-inch brusier


tephen Williams adjusted where he would be hunting Oct. 24, and that turned out to be a wise move. By the end of that hunt, he was standing over a 150-inch trophy. “I had trail cam photos of this buck last year when he was a big 9-point. This season, I was relieved to know he’d made it past last season because I had gotten trail cam photos of this buck for the past five days," Williams said. "Each photo showed he reached my food plot just after shooting hours. I was watching the weather report and noted that a good front was headed this way so I took off work … with a change of plans in mind." The 45-year-old Lincoln Parish sheriff's deputy hunts on family land in Lincoln Parish. He decided to abandon his box stand overlooking a lush food plot and place his climbing stand 100 yards away along a trail deer were using. "The wind was just right that afternoon and I had a good feeling that my hunch just might pay off because not long after I got settled into my climbing stand, I began to see deer,” he said. Around 6:30 p.m., Williams watch an 8-point walking along a trail that ran parallel to the ones the does and yearlings used.

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Lincoln Parish's Stephen Williams used trail-cam pictures to help him adjust his hunting position, and this 150-inch monster was the result. He got ready because he suspected the one he was after would be along shortly, and a minute later, his hunch paid off as the big 10-point buck stepped along the trail. “It was hard to pass on the 8-point because he was a really nice deer and would have been the best buck ever taken on this property. I’m glad I held off when I saw the big one following the 8-point along the trail at 65 yards,” he said. A well-placed shot with his .444 connected and the buck collapsed after traveling only about 15 yards. The buck sported 10 points and 16 ½-inches of air separated the antlers. He rough-scored the buck at about 150. ■

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news breakers

Safety a concern with ATVs, ROVs Minimum recommended age for operation is 16 By Patrick Bonin


ith duck and deer seasons in full swing now, many hunters their children and grandchildren will be taking four-wheelers and recreational off-highway vehicles to deer stands, camps and duck blinds across the state. And while it’s pretty common for kids to drive ATVs and ROVs here, it’s important to remember that manufacturers recommend that no under under 16 ever operates an adult-sized unit. In early November, a 14-year-old Houma Junior High School student died while racing in an off-road vehicle in a subdivision, according to Houma police. “Many people overestimate their child’s capability on these very large machines,” said Karen Ahmad, the injury prevention and community outreach nurse for the Alliance Safety Council and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. “But they’re very unforgiving when something goes wrong. “Probably the primary major factor in critical and fatal inju-

ries for children is kids who are riding on adult-sized vehicles. Size really does matter in this, and it’s the single biggest factor in critical and fatal injuries in children on four-wheelers.” ROVs, which more resemble a golf cart and have a steering wheel, can also be dangerous, especially when operated on public streets and roads, she said. “Generally speaking, people take liberties with these machines on the road that are putting them at pretty high risk. Kids don’t have a working knowledge of traffic safety, nor do these vehicles handle well on paved surfaces,” Ahmad said. “They’re intended to grip soft ground, not a paved surface, so they’re really not recommended for use on roads and the manufacturers’ specifically warn against it.” And it’s important to remember that loading down a four-wheeler, either with equipment, passengers or the deer you just pulled out of the woods, will unbalance the unit and alter its center of gravity. “These are rider-active units,” she said. “You need to Experienced Guides & Expertly Trained Hunting Dogs move forward, backwards and Field ATV’s Provided & Hunting Gear Available side-to-side as you control the Sport Clay Shooting Range ~ Trophy Bass Fishing unit, and if you have passengers you’re carrying on there, Day Hunt or Overnight Lodging that inhibits your ability to Comfortable Accommodations ~ Choice of Two Lodges safely operate the machine.” While a helmet is always a Recreational Area with Hot Tub & Firepit good idea, Ahmad said it is Outdoor Cabana, Bar & Dining Area important for people to realTransportation from Airports Arranged ize other very serious or fatal injuries happen that don’t Game Processing & Shipping Provided necessarily involve your head. Now Booking for 2013 - 2014 Season “I must tell you that only 30-percent of the critical and Running Creek Ranch 1 hour, 15 minutes fatal injuries we see are head White Sand, MS North of New Orleans injuries,” she said. “SeventyCall Toll Free 855-677-8245 (MS-quail) 1/2 hour south of Hattiesburg percent of the very serious


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Teen killed in ATV accident From News Reports

The single-biggest safety factor in keeping children safe around ATVs is ensuring kids under 16 do not operate or ride on adult-sized units, according to Karen Ahmad with the Alliance Safety Council and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.

Andy Crawford

injuries involve other parts of the body. A helmet isn’t going to prevent you from getting a broken back, a broken neck or an amputated leg. “You want to wear a helmet because it might keep you out of the fatality category, but it’s not necessarily going to keep you from being seriously injured on these units.” She recommended that everyone, especially operators under age 16, take a free online training course from the ATV Training Institute, and follow that up with formal training from a certified instructor. “Most people don’t think it could happen to them. They think that they know what they’re doing, and this is something that happens to other people who make stupid mistakes. And it’s not. It’s very predictable and it’s very preventable,” she said. “When you take the training that the ATV Training Institute offers, you can kind of see how people get into trouble and you can see how to avoid that trouble. “So I strongly recommend to anybody who’s involved with these 4-wheelers: dot your I’s, cross your T’s, get your safety gear and go take formal training.” Visit and for more information on the safe operation of these machines. ■

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A 14-yer-old boy was killed Nov. 3 when the off-road vehicle on which he was riding overturned, the Houma Daily Courier reported. John Farmer’s skull was crushed when the vehicle landed on him, the newspaper reported. Houma Police said Farmer was one of six boys racing ATVs in Barrios subdivision and one of five on the Polaris, the Houma Daily Courier said. The crash also injured a 12-year-old passenger, who hit his head and suffered a severe concussion, in the Polaris, police said. The 13-year-old driving the Polaris was Farmer’s best friend. He was not injured, but was charged with negligent homicide, negligent injury, reckless operation, driving without a license and operating an unsafe vehicle. None of the boys were wearing seat belts or helmets. Robin Reynolds, 45, owned the Polaris and is the parent of one of the boys riding the other four wheeler, police said. Reynolds was been ticketed for contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and allowing a minor to drive, the Houma Daily Courier reported.

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


news breakers

Acadia Parish hunter arrows 145-inch brute

Massive buck tips scales at 250 pounds By Patrick Bonin


ony Joseph had seen the big buck he nicknamed 7 O’clock three times on the Acadia Parish property where he hunted, but the elusive deer never gave the bowhunter a clean shot. “Before the time changed, it was always like 6:45 or 7 o’clock when I would see him, late in the evening, so me and my wife called him 7 O’clock,” said Joseph, 37, of Crowley. “I had seen him, but I could never get on him.” That all changed on an afternoon hunt on Nov. 4 when Joseph positioned himself 20 feet up in his climbing stand with a narrow deer trail about 20 yards directly behind him. “I settled down about 5 o’clock and I heard a doe bleat, then I heard it again,” Joseph said. “I heard it a third time, so I grabbed my grunt call and grunted four or five times, and I heard the buck grunt. “When I grunted, the doe came running to me along the levee to my back, so I stood up on my stand and I turned around facing the deer trail.” The doe got off the trail as the buck made steady progress toward him. When the buck grunted twice more, the doe took off. “I heard rustling coming through on the deer trail, but I didn’t see any horns because he had his down because it was so thick in there. I thought it was a big doe,” he said. “When he picked his head up, I said, ‘Oh my God. Look at this.’” But instead of staying on the trail, the big buck headed straight to the base of Joseph’s tree, seemingly trying to determine where the grunting had come from. “My book sack was at the base of my tree and he was standing two yards away from my book sack,” Joseph said. “I was in full draw for at least four or five minutes. He was just standing at the base of the tree, looking left and right, left and right. Before he walked off, he grunted one more time.” Joseph bleated twice, the buck stopped and the Muzzy broadhead found its mark. “I had to shoot almost straight down. I hit him in the hind shoulder and it went through his ribs on the other side and hit that front shoulder bone and stopped,” he said. “I got about 10 inches of penetration and he broke my arrow off.” The buck stumbled a couple of times, but made his way back to the trail and got to the levee bordering a crawfish pond before he went out of sight. “A little bit after that I heard a big old crash and I heard water,” he said.


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Crowley's Tony Joseph arrowed this 250-pound 10-pointer on Nov. 4 in Acadia Parish. Joseph eventually made his way to the ground and found the broken arrow, but couldn’t find any blood and started to get worried. It was getting dark fast, so he headed for home to wait for a friend to come help him track the big buck later that evening. “I couldn’t sit down,” Joseph said with a laugh. “I was like an ant hauling food, going back and forth, back and forth.” Eventually, they returned about 8:30 and tried to retrace the buck’s path, and about 65 yards from the tree where he took the shot, his buddy found lots of blood. A few feet further, they found the big buck piled up. “He said, ‘Oh my God, look at the rack.’ I said, ‘I told you he was big.” The two men hugged and celebrated, and with good reason: the 10-point buck weighed in at 250 pounds, with a 16 7/8-inch inside spread and bases 4 inches around. He green scored 145 3/4 inches Pope and Young. “It was just an unbelievable feeling. I was excited. There’s no feeling like that,” Joseph said. “It’s unexplainable.” And the fact the big buck was almost directly under him for so long made it even more special. “I was nervous at first, but I had to talk to myself and say, ‘Calm down. Let him move and let him get broadside. He’s got to go left, right or turn around. He’s going to give you a shot.’ So I was patient and it all came together.” ■

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


news breakers

Hunter doubles up on trophy bucks

144-inch buck falls days before 130-class deer


By Glynn Harris ollis Grisham is a 25-year-old respiratory therapist working at Willis Knighton Hospital in Shreveport, but even he might have needed help catching his breath when a big 10-point buck he’d never seen stepped out of the woods in Bossier Parish last weekend. Grisham was hunting on a 180-acre plot of family land behind his home near Benton on Saturday, Nov. 9, when good fortune came his way. The area he hunts is mostly river bottom land, featuring what at one time had been a cow pasture that has since grown up fairly thick. “I worked the night before at the hospital, ran home, grabbed my 7mm Mag and a jacket I slipped on over my hospital scrubs, and climbed into my box stand about 7:20 that morning. My stand sits at the intersection where a pipeline and power line meet,” Grisham said. “Twenty minutes later, I saw a doe cross one of my shooting lanes nearly 500 yards from my stand.” Grisham reached for his binoculars and saw a buck following the doe: it was a big 9-point he’d seen several times on his trail camera. Following closely behind the 9-point was another big buck neither he nor anyone else hunting the area had ever seen. He determined that this was a buck he wanted to take, so he picked up his grunt call but the deer were apparently too far away to hear. “The doe and two bucks disappeared and then about ten minutes later, the trio popped out on the line at 400 yards and went into a little triangle of woods that was bordered by shooting lanes on both sides. I knew if they left this triangle, I’d see them,” he said. Over the course of the next two hours, all Grisham could do was wait. But he knew the deer were still in the area because he could hear antlers clashing as the two bucks fought to claim the attention of the doe. “Finally, I saw movement and the bigger buck, a 10-point, emerged at about 200 yards. I got my scope on him and squeezed the trigger. It was a good hit and the deer collapsed after running only 25 yards,” Grisham said. The big buck was impressive indeed, and although the tines were more slender than massive, the two sides of the rack were separated by an incredible 22 inches of air. Main beams were


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Benton's Hollis Grisham is apparently living right: He killed this big Bossier Parish 9-pointer on Nov. 12, four days after knocking down a 144-inch 10-pointer. each over 25 inches in length. The buck weighed 175 pounds and was green scored at 144 1/8 inches. However, the story doesn’t end there, because Grisham’s wife hunted his stand the very next day and once again saw the 9-point buck. But she miscalculated the distance of 350 yards, her shot was off and she missed the deer. So Grisham was back on his stand around 6:20 Nov. 12 and it

WANT MORE? Visit us online at wasn’t long before he began seeing deer. “I watched several small bucks chasing a doe around the shooting lane and then the 9-point stepped out at 125 yards. I got on him and shot, and the buck stumbled and fell,” he said. This buck was almost as impressive as the 10-point, weighing 185 pounds with an inside spread of 21 inches. Main beams measured 23 inches, but like the 10-point, the antlers were not massive, and he green scored 134 3/8. After taking two impressive bucks in a matter of four days, what will Grisham do for an encore? “I’m going to turn my stand over to my wife and I’ll work on the hogs and coyotes on the property,” he said. “I’m quite pleased with the way good fortune has smiled on me this season.” ■

news breakers

Serigne brothers convicted of aggravated rape of juveniles


wo brothers whose family owns Serigne’s Marina in Delacroix were convicted Nov. 8 of aggravated rape, reported. William Serigne Sr., 54, was convicted of aggravated rape of a juvenile, sexual battery and aggravated incest, the news site reported. Lionel Serigne Jr., 47, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape of a juvenile, according to State District Judge Perry Nicosia acquitted the elder Serigne of another aggravated rape charge in a non-jury trial, the news site reported. The convictions came after the now-adult victims began in 2009 to report incidents to the St. Bernard Sheriff ’s Office they said began in the 1970s, with some incidents continiuing through the early 2000s, said. The brothers are in the St. Bernard jail awaiting sentencing that is scheduled for Tuesday. ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


news breakers

12-year-old kills 140-inch 11-pointer Youngster’s first crossbow at a deer ends with wallhanger By Glynn Harris


welve-year-old Zach Jones has only taken four shots with his Parker Thunderhawk crossbow. The first three bolts were released on a target, and the fourth smacked into the shoulder of a big 11-point buck. Hunting on Ashbrook Island, a 6,000-acre private hunting club that bumps up against three states – Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi – it is physically located in Washington County, Miss. “We leave home in Sterlington, get on a barge in southeast Arkansas and wind up on the island in Mississippi,” Zach said. The youngster and his dad share a policy of only hunting one specific buck over the course of the season, and it’s the only buck they target unless a larger one happens along. “We had seen this buck on our trail cameras and this is the one we decided we’d hunt this season,” he said. Zach and his dad, James Jones, got settled into their ground blind before daylight on Nov. 3 in an area where deer had been feeding on native pecans. “We felt like the buck might possibly show because we’d seen him the day before,” Zach said. “However, he was too far for a shot, so we held off and hoped he’d be in the same area the next day.” Shortly after daybreak, deer began moving in the area and the first deer the duo saw was a nice 8-point buck that showed up to feed on the pecans. Right behind him was the 11-point they were after. “The bigger buck chased the 8-point right toward us, and the smaller buck stopped 5 yards from our blind. Right behind him came the one we wanted,” Zach said. The targeted buck walked behind a tree at 12 steps, and when he moved clear, Zach’s dad gave the go-ahead for the shot. On impact, the buck stumbled, then bolted and left in a hurry. “We waited about 15 minutes, got on his trail but when we started getting close, we heard the deer get up and run. We went back to camp and waited to give the deer time to expire,” he said.

Keep up! 32

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Zach Jones, 12, of Sterlington, shows off the big 11-point buck he shot with his crossbow on Ashbrook Island in Washington County, Miss. on Nov. 3. The big buck green scored just more than 140 inches. After lunch, the pair went back to the area, got on the trail again and after a search that covered some 300 yards, they found the buck that had made its way into a cocklebur patch and died. The buck was indeed a dandy, a main-frame 10-point with one kicker point and evidence that a couple more points had been broken off, apparently from fighting other bucks. The deer tipped the scales at 210 pounds and what the beams and individual tines lacked in length was made up in mass that carried throughout the rack. The buck was estimated to be 4 ½ years old, and he green scored 140 7/8 inches. Incidentally, Zach won the youth division at Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop last season with a buck that scored in the 170-inch range. “It was neat to get that deer last year with my rifle but I may be more excited to have gotten my very first deer with a bow,” Zach said. “Especially with only my fourth shot.” ■

Stories of big bucks will be posted to on an ongoing basis. So log on regularly to keep up with all the big-buck happenings.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman








On the cheap Some levee districts are doing more with less By Kelly Connelly LaPolitics News Service


oyotes aren’t the first animals that come to mind when Louisianians think about species benefitting from coastal restoration. Nonetheless, South Lafourche Levee District President Windell Curole said the 40-plus-mile stretch of levee that runs from Larose to Golden Meadow and back is inundated with them. Sure, coyotes can be a nuisance and they’re putting a dent in the local rabbit population, but they’re in part proof that Curole is doing his job. That’s because, through a cost-efficient comprehensive restoration project, expanses of the marsh along the levee — particularly out toward Catfish Lake — have reverted from subsidence to the prairie-like environment of 50 years ago. Curole thinks the coyotes were stowaways on a shipment of pipeline materials from East Texas and reproduced when they came ashore in south Lafourche. Aside from the coyotes, this particular part of the levee near Catfish Lake is thriving; on one side homes are protected from rising waters, and on the other the levee is guarded from erosion and wave action by the marsh that’s being developed. “It’s not a big deal when it comes to hurricanes,” Curole said, “but outside of hurricanes, which is 365 days a year, you get wave action that’ll eat (the levee) up, because it wasn’t designed to have open water against the levee.” The project cost less than $20,000 an acre, which is amazingly cost effective. Comparable projects orchestrated by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers usually run much higher tabs, from $70,000 an acre on the lower end of the range to as much as $300,000 an acre. But the expanse out by Catfish Lake was the ideal spot for a restoration project, Curole added, because it was broken marsh, where marsh grasses look like hair plugs on a doll’s head bordered by open water. That’s where, Curole said, “a little bit of new material is like Miracle-Gro.” Those shallow spots also need much less sediment for roots to take hold. Not every inch of wetland is suitable for this kind of

A 40-mile levee between Larose and Golden Meadow is now protected from wave action by lush marshes created by the South Lafourche Levee District. restoration, Curole said. Officials were able to accomplish the project so cheaply because they took dirt from a nearby bayou in a marsh-friendly manner, by making underwater terraces that will also slow wave action. And they were able to borrow the primary piece of equipment free of charge. The project produced more marsh than projected, outgrowing the containment dike that was to keep the project from washing away by 30 acres, Curole said. One of Curole’s secrets involves looking for counsel in unlikely places. “I talk to the scientists,” Curole said. “I talk to the researchers. But I also talk to the fishermen. What I find is (that) the local people, the local fisherman, they are in the marsh all the time.” Curole said he relies on local knowledge to decide where and how to go about improvement projects. “Fisherman are good at the whats,” Curole said, meaning that they know what happens everyday in the marsh. “They are very good at watching what’s happening, what they see, what the water depths are. “The why is where they are not as accurate, but I’ve got the scientists to tell me the why.” Curole said part of his philosophy on coastal restoration involves smaller projects the levee board can take on without relying on the state and federal governments. For the most part, the local board can’t do anything without permits from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service and a handful of other state and federal departments and agencies. This becomes obvious as he took part in a conference call with representatives from several of these agencies to talk about another set of unrelated restoration project. One voice came from his phone, and it was a little snarky. “While the government was shutdown, we actually approved all your permits, so we don’t need to have this conversation,” the voice on the other end of the line said. >>>


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

In comparison While the South Lafourche Levee District managed to orchestrate a marsh creation project for only $20,000 an acre, the reality of restoration work in Louisiana is that such undertakings are usually more expensive. Here’s an overview of a few ongoing projects being overseen by the state that range in cost from $73,333 to $315,454 per acre. Biloxi Marsh Shoreline Protection • Project type — Rock and semi-rock barrier walls • Goals — Protect marsh near Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne to serve as natural flood protection for New Orleans communities and the Biloxi Wildlife Management Area • Estimated cost — $22 million • Land benefited — Seven miles of shoreline; 300 acres of marsh • Cost per acre — $73,333 Cameron Parish Shoreline Protection • Project type — Sand placement for beach restoration • Goals — Rebuild shoreline that supports critical highway infrastructure; protect marsh from saltwater intrusion • Estimated cost — $45.8 million • Land benefited — 525 acres of new beach created; nine miles of shoreline • Cost per acre: $87,238

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Orleans Landbridge • Project Type — Recycle concrete from old I-10 Twin Spans as shoreline reenforcement • Goals — Protect New Orleans and surrounding communities from storm surge • Estimated cost — $34.7 million • Land benefited — 110 acres of marsh; 8.7 miles of shoreline • Cost per acre — $315,454 Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration • Project type — Barrier island rehabilitation • Goals — Protect Port Fourchon and Louisiana Highway 1 from storm surge, slow everyday wave action into Fourchon area marshes and limit saltwater intrusion • Estimated cost — $70.6 million • Land Benefited — 303 acres of beach and dune • Cost per acre — $233,003 Scofield Island Restoration • Project Type — Barrier island rehabilitation • Goals — Rebuild a 2.4-mile-long barrier island on the west side of Plaquemines Parish, prevent further land loss, protect communities and counter saltwater intrusion that has adversely affected fishing habitats • Estimated cost — $70 million • Land benefited — 398 acres of marsh; 238 acres of beach and dune; and 11,400 feet of shoreline • Cost per acre —: $110,062 SOURCE: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


>>> The South Lafourche Levee District restored marsh for less than $20,000 an acre, but restoration work often is much more expensive. Curole, with an unmistakable Cajun accent, replied without hesitation: “While the government was shutdown, we actually built all of the things we’re talking about, so we don’t need to have this conversation, either.” Both parties paused before breaking into laughter, easing the tension that was clearly building. Curole doesn’t want to sidestep authorities, but he said pleasing them isn’t a priority. For example, the Larose to Golden Meadow levee isn’t on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps, but it’s a system in which he has confidence. “It has to stand up to FEMA and it has to stand up the Corps, yes,” Curole said, “but ultimately all it has to stand up to is the water.” This way of thinking isn’t unique to Lafourche Parish. Reggie Dupre, a former state senator and the president of the neighboring levee district in Terrebonne Parish, has found ways to build levees at a fourth of the cost of the Corps. Dupre said his board once contracted an 18-mile levee in Chauvin for $20 million — $1.1 million per mile. The Corps, he pointed out, finished a six-mile levee of the same height in a comparable environment in Grand Caillou just before the Chauvin project. The cost: $25 million, or $4 million per mile. Dupre was quick to credit Curole’s mentorship, noting Curole

“wrote the book” on cost-effective restoration. That book, for what its worth, advises keeping projects small and local to benefit the economy as much as the coast. That’s why Dupre said his board splits up projects to keep costs low and encourage competitive bidding. It also opens bids on materials, not just labor. “The market is right,” Dupre said. “It’s a perfect storm for public-works projects. We have the money and hungry contractors.” As the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a member of the CPRA, Rep. Gordon Dove (R-Houma) said the state does what they can to ensure a project is cost effective. The CPRA also slices up projects to smaller contracts when they can, he said, moving along smaller pieces of a larger effort so protection hits the ground sooner and benefits local economies. But the difference between big government boards and local levee boards is that members who serve on the latter have to face their neighbors each day and prepare in the same manner when storms are approaching. “We don’t think of ourselves as just a levee board; we’re here to help the community,” Curole said. “The biggest help is keeping the water from getting in homes, but it’s still about the community. “My people are here because they’re fishermen.” It’s no big secret that marsh projects like the ones Curole champions help improve fish habitats. But he tries to go a step further, incorporating boat launches into his plans. He’s been able to do this twice recently. Dupre said it’s just another important section from the “Gospel according to Windell,” For Annual Memberships & Day Hunts - Call For Details which is a case study in costNo Limit Goose HuNtiNG - eLectroNic caLLiNG - No PLuGs - Dec 2 - 13, 2013 • Feb 3 - marcH 2, 2014 effective coastal restoration. And he said that there’s one Duck & Goose seasoN - Nov 9 - Dec 1, 2013 • Dec 14, 2013 - JaN 19, 2014 particular “Windellism” worth remembering, one that endears him to locals and sums up his mission. “We’d rather have mud on the bank than money in bank,” Dupre intoned. ■


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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Jackson Bienville WMA is a popular meat haul for many hunters, but it’s also home to some brute bucks. Learn how this regular targets trophy By Glynn Harris public-land deer.

Thicket thrasher There are several types of deer hunters who fit into one class or other. First, there’s the meat hunter, who is only interested in putting venison in the freezer, and once he gets his doe or yearling buck he’s done for the year. Then there is the average deer hunter who does the minimum to prepare for deer season. He might get a deer, and he might not. But in either case he’s OK because he just enjoys being out there in the woods in winter — provided it’s not too cold, rainy or windy. A third class of deer hunter is the fellow who pays a hefty sum to be a member of a hunting club where big bucks hang out. Because of his investment, both monetarily and time-wise, he’s serious about getting a good return on his investment in the

form of having a chance at a wall-hanger buck. Finally, there’s the class of hunter like 42-year-old Brad Doughty, and there aren’t too many like him. Doughty only hunts big bucks, and he only goes after them on public land. And one of Doughty’s favorite public areas to hunt is the 30,000-acre Jackson Bienville Wildlife Management Area south of Ruston. Jackson Bienville is the target of an annual pilgrimage of hunters from all over the state. Most of those hunters have one goal in mind: They want to shoot a deer ­— any legal deer. And because of the high population of deer on this area, many of see their wish fulfilled. >>> December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Thicket thrasher

Brad Dougherty knows thickets hold great public-land bucks and it’s just a matter of knowing how to focus hunting effort to ambush a deer.


Courtesy Brad Doughty

hile these hunters are roaming the Jackson Bienville woods, Doughty, who resides in Downsville, is hunting on either Union or D’Arbonne wildlife management areas. He isn’t thinking bucks early on; he’s looking for freezer meat. Come late December, however, Doughty takes on the demeanor of a different hunter. He has his venison; now it’s time to concentrate on bagging a trophy buck, and his eye is on Jackson Bienville, his favorite public land honey hole for big bucks. “A dozen or so years ago, a friend shot a really nice buck on Jackson Bienville, so I went down to check it out,” Doughty said. “After talking with the biologist overseeing the area and making a tour, I came away impressed. With all the cover and food sources available, there was no doubt in my mind this area held some big deer, so I did some scouting and started hunting there, concentrating on big bucks only.” At first blush, you might assume that to concentrate only on trophy bucks on an area that sees tremendously heavy hunting pressure makes no sense. To Doughty, however, this presents absolutely no problem. “Most of the hunters who are there early on are not really interested in getting a trophy buck; they’re after meat,” Doughty said. “Even though there is the chance that someone will get a good buck during early season, that’s not likely because the big ones are way back in the thickets, moving and feeding only at night for one main reason: The rut has not kicked in, so they have no reason to be up and looking for does.” By mid-December, however, the majority of the meat hunters have left, and it’s time for Doughty and a handful of other hunters, to set their sights on the rut, which kicks in on Jackson Bienville around the second week in December and lasts until season ends in early January. It’s during this brief window — when the tantalizing scent of a doe in estrous reaches his nos-


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

trils — that a mature buck that has been lolly-gagging back in the thickets lets down his guard. “I can tell when the rut is beginning to kick in by scouting the woods trails and old roads,” Doughty said. “Scrapes that had been cleaned out regularly are now covered with leaves because they’re no longer needed: When I see this, I know the buck that made this scrape is already focusing on and chasing receptive does. “Another tip to let me know the rut has kicked in is to find tracks of running deer in pursuit of does. When I find this, I arrange my schedule so I can be in the Jackson Bienville woods every chance I get.” But how does Doughty know where to concentrate his scouting on this massive public area? “I visit regularly with the wildlife biologists who work the area, finding out all I can on what deer have been taken, how big they were and what areas most of them came from,” he said. “Also, I’ll stop and talk with members of logging crews to see what they’ve seen or observed while they’re harvesting timber.


Scent blocker key to bagging bucks Brad Doughty is an excellent deer hunter, regularly bagging big bucks on public land. However, he does it with a little help from scent blocker and deer calls. “I wash my hunting clothes with scent shield,” Doughty said. “I keep all my clothes in a big zip-closure bag. I also keep my boots in a bag that can be closed, and I don’t put them on until I get to the woods. You don’t want to be wearing the same boots you plan to hunt in if you have to stop for fuel — the boots are going to pick up that odor, and it will alert deer.” But he starts his scent control even before he heads to the woods. “Before I leave home, I’ll spray down really good with (Scent-A-Way),” Doughty said. “Then, when I get to the woods, I’ll spray down again. I’ve noticed that where deer used to wind me, now that I use the scent-control spray, they never are able to detect my scent.”  — Glynn Harris

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Thicket thrasher Doughty always sets his sights on the rut around the second week in December on Jackson Bienville.


interesting that deer aren’t too disturbed by the loggers at work, and out of curiosity will step out in the road to see what’s going on. Loggers will usually freely share information about when and where they may have seen a good buck, and this helps me zero in on areas to scout.” Doughty also said his dad taught him something years ago that has helped him be successful with some of his big bucks. “He said if you want to have a chance at big bucks, hunt the thickets because this is where they hang out,” Doughty said. “I took a gamble and started hunting some thick, grown-up clear-cuts where timber had been harvested a couple of years earlier. The first morning I hunted such an area, I climbed high in a tree so I could see down into the thick stuff and saw seven different deer — smaller bucks and does. “There are times when I hunt from a short ladder or a ground blind when a particular thicket has good visibility at ground level, but for the most part I’m way up in a tree so I have an upabove view of the trails that can’t be seen from the ground.” He’s been doing this so long it’s now just second nature.

Courtesy Brad Doughty

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Patterning key to sticking big bucks, gar and turkey As passionate as Brad Doughty is about chasing trophy whitetails, he is also an avid bow fisherman in a quest for outsized alligator gar and boss gobblers. And he has noted similarities in patterning gar and gobblers to that of setting up on a trophy buck. “I like to bow hunt deer, which naturally led me into bow fishing,” Doughty said. “I got to watching those big alligator gar rolling on the surface of the Ouachita River and decided to give bow fishing a try. “I caught some big ones using a deep-sea fishing rig and that was fun, but I wanted to try to stick one with an arrow.” Doughty got into the sport pretty seriously, and has shot gar up to 200 pounds. And he said tracking down a big gar is a lot like finding a big buck. “I pattern the fish,” he said. “In deer hunting, I find trails and thickets big bucks are likely to use, and in bow fishing I find those areas where I see big fish roll on the surface. I take note of what areas in the river they like, what time of day they tend to surface and other things like the weather, barometric pressure and such.” His turkey hunting is done much the same way. “I have taken 10 gobblers the past seven seasons on Jackson Bienville, and I have been successful by being observant,” Doughty said. “I look for areas where turkeys like to hang out, look for dusting sites, droppings, tracks and dropped feathers and such. “Once I find such an area, I’ll get in there, set up and may stay all day because I know sometime during the day, they’re likely to show up. Much like a mature buck, an old gobbler will often seemingly ignore my soft calls but he’ll sneak in, totally silent, to check me out. “That’s why you have to stay alert every minute you’re hunting, whether it’s a big buck or a big gobbler.”  — Glynn Harris


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128 ac. Catahoula Parish Prime farmland w/over 2 miles of frontage on Lake Louis. This tract has great development potential w/good deer/duck/fishing. $575,000. Call Bill. Lakefront • Black River Lake lot - 168' frontage - $42,000 • Camp on Cocodrie Bayou. Owner willing to sell lot & cottage separately. $69,000 • 2 lots on Workinger Bayou - $50,000 Call Bill. 100 ac. Franklin Par. Great investment tract w/60 ac. pasture & 40 ac. cutover. Great habitat for deer & small game. $245,000. Call Bill. 25 Ac. Tensas Par. 25 acres CRP in south Tensas w/big deer & $1,560/year income. $61,677. Call Bill.


Attala Co. - 125 ac. - Frontage on Yockanookany River & Hwy 12. near McCool. 56 ac. in pine ready to be thinned & rest in mature hdwd. Loaded w/wildlife! $225,000. Call Don Schmidt. Attala Co. - 107 ac. - Adjoins 125 ac. tract w/Hwy. 12 frontage. 50 ac. in pine ready to be thinned & rest in mature hdwd. Loaded w/wildlife! $235,000. Call Don Schmidt. Holmes Co. – 100 ac. - Turn key honey-hole w/cabin overlooking stocked lake. Good roads, food plots & box stands $250,000. Call Ken. Holmes Co. - 150 ac. - Located on Hwy 14 w/ 1/2 mile frontage on Big Black. Excellent hunting w/food plots, good roads & 15 yr timber growth. $340,000. Call Don Schmidt. Holmes Co. - 60 ac. - Timberland w/lodge near Durant. $330,000. Call Don Schmidt. Holmes Co. - 16.5 ac. - Loaded with deer/turkey and nice lodge. $125,000. Call Don Schmidt. Jefferson Co. – 28 ac. – Timberland near Fayette. Deer/turkey/small game. $71,000. Call Tom. Leake Co. - 80-170-250 ac. - Recreational honey-hole. Cabin w/shop & barn. Estab. food plots/box stands. Borders Lobutcha Creek only yards from Pearl River. Hardwood bottoms and plant. pine w/saw tooth oaks. $2,475/ac. Call Ken. Madison Co. - Lake House - Secluded 3BR/2BA on private 120 ac. Nine Mile Lake w/membership to 1500 ac of prime deer/turkey hunting just off Hwy 43 in Camden. $275,000. Call Don Schmidt. Marshall Co. - 1080 ac. - Prime duck/deer/dove/turkey hunting along Cold Water River. 800 ac. select-cut hdwd. timber & over 100 ac. of cropland. Property has 10 ac lake & nice camphouse. $2,160,000. Call Bill. Pearl River Co.- 50-100-200-2901 ac. - Cybur Farms located on Hwy. 43N just outside of Picayune, MS adjoining Bogue Chitto NWR & Old River WMA. Mixed ages of hrdwd/ pine timber offering deer/turkey hunting. Owner will split. $3,500/ac. Call Ken. Pearl River Co. - 456 ac. - 1 mile frontage on sandy Murder Creek w/luxurious 3600 sf lodge, 60 ac. of stocked lakes & exc. hunting. $2,300,000. Call Bill. Quitman Co. - 468 Acres - Great duck/deer hunting w/food plots/stands/2 wells. CRP w/$23,276 annually in Lambert on Hwy 3. $2,500/ac. Call Ken. Rankin Co. - 5 - 11 ac. - Homesites w/light covenants. $14,000-$17,500 per acre. Call Don Pickens. Rankin Co. - 10-50-100-950 ac. - Located in Johns Community, beautiful wooded homesites w/light restrictions & exc. deer/turkey. $2,500 - $4,500/ac. Owner/agent. Call Ken.

Doughty, who has taken 10 mature gobblers in the past seven seasons on Jackson Bienville, finds where turkeys are hanging out and stays with it, much like he does when hunting a big buck.

Rankin Co. - 68 ac. - Wooded tract located on Spring Water Ranch Rd. w/lake. Owner will consider splitting. $7,000 per acre. Call Ken. Warren Co. - 96 ac. - Great hunting tract located just outside city limits on Hwy 61. Nice timber w/power line thru middle. $336,000. Call Charlie. Warren Co. - 160-40-35 ac. - Located north of Redwood on Yazoo River levee. 160 ac. prime pastureland at $2,450/ac. 40 ac & 35 ac. wooded honey-holes on west side of levee adjoining WRP. $5,000/ac. Call Charlie. Warren Co. - 205 ac. - Plots & stands. Creek & campsite w/elec. W/roads. $445,875. Call Ken. Washington Co. - 188 ac. - Duck holes south of Greenville in 3 tracts. $357,200. Call Ken. Wilkinson Co. - 135 ac. - Property at Lake Mary on Jackson Point Rd. $175,000. Call Tom. Wilkinson Co. - Waterfront lot on Lake Mary w/ exc. fishing/watersports. $20,000. Call Bill. Wilkinson Co. - 489 ac. - Outstanding timber w/68% red oak; 1/2 mile paved frontage on Hwy 24. Great deer/duck/fishing. 1.6 miles from lake Mary. $1,833,750. Call Tom. Yazoo Co. - Wolf Lake Cabin - Very nice waterfront cabin on Wolf Lake w/exc. fishing. $108,000. Call Charlie.

Ken Hall – Broker – 601-942-9513 Tom Middleton – 601-597-5727 Don Pickens – 601-594-3767 Charlie Spears – 601-953-1424 Charles Feltus – 601-431-8285 Barry Maxwell – 318-719-0318 Bill Crigler – 318-201-0744 Don Schmidt – 601-416-5878 Noah Reeves – 318-282-6703 See pics of these and other hunting tracts on • Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated

Courtesy Brad Doughty

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Thicket thrasher

Call ’em in Brad Doughty relies heavily on two deer calls — a bleat can and a grunt tube — to draw in bucks during the rut. “Once I’m in my stand and set up, and if I haven’t seen or heard anything, I’ll hit the bleat can and follow it with two long grunts from the grunt tube,” he said. “I’ll wait 15 to 20 minutes, and if I haven’t detected any deer, I’ll repeat the sequence and maybe get a little more aggressive. “Then I’ll wait five minutes or so and use the grunt call to sound like a deer running and grunting. If that old mature buck is in the thicket there and he thinks another buck is after his doe, he just might sneak in to check it out.” Experience has taught Doughty that, while bucks often respond to a rattling sequence, more than likely the ones that come in are younger, smaller bucks. The bleat and grunt are the ticket for mature bucks. — Glynn Harris

“Since I started hunting thickets, I’ve sort of fine tuned when the rut starts, and I’ll be set up close to a thicket where I’ve found good buck sign,” he said. Doughty looks for certain types of setups when deciding where to hang his climbing stand. There are criteria he finds that helps him be in the best possible location when a good buck presents himself. “To me, the ideal place to hang your stand is overlooking what I call a ‘corner,’” he said. “If you have a thicket that connects with a clear-cut or find a spot where two different timber types meet, that’s a ‘corner.’ “These areas are important because, although a doe may run out into the clearing, big bucks Glynn Harris tend to try and prevent this by cutting these corners rather than come on out into a clearing following a doe. Mature bucks like corners because it provides the shortest distance for him to chase a doe.”

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

FACING PAGE: Finding a shed antler along a trail is a clue that a buck is using an area.

Because of the necessity to be able to see into the thick stuff, Doughty affixes his climbing stand to a sturdy pine long before daylight and scoots up 25 to 35 feet high. “You can be sure I use my safety harness anytime I’m climbing,” he said. “I climb this high because you can actually see trails and openings not visible from the ground. It also gives me a better chance for my scent not being picked up by a deer.” Utilizing the techniques and information he has learned, Doughty bagged two impressive bucks on Jackson Bienville last season, a 230-pound 8-point and an 11-point that green scored 150 3/8 inches —both in midto late December as the rut was kicking in. “People may not realize it, but there are some really big deer in those thickets,” he said. “There are lots in the 170- to 200-pound range, and some of these bucks probably die of old age, never seeing a human. This is why I like to go after them in those thick hideouts.” ■ Glynn Harris is a long-time outdoor writer from Ruston. He writes weekly outdoor columns for several north Louisiana newspapers, has magazine credits in a number of state and national magazines and broadcasts four outdoor radio broadcasts each week.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


fever Poth le

Private leases can provide fantastic duckhunting opportunities, but the small publicly accessible openings along the Boeuf River also are filled with birds. By Jerald Horst >


Jerald Horst

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

The square-sterned jo boat was easy to paddle and maneuverable.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


I had heard those words before:

“Ray Charles could find it.” The last time I was given the challenge that the great, but completely blind rock-and-roll singer could find his way to where I was being directed was in the days before GPS units and cell phones. Then I got lost in the boondocks for three hours. Before I left home, Mike Branton gave me driving instructions. “Just go seven or eight miles out of Sicily Island,” Branton said. “Take a right at Big Dan’s and go about three miles; then hang another right on Bigaplenty Road. Go two or three miles, jump to the top of the levee and go six or seven more miles. The camp is on the left. You can’t miss it. Ray Charles could find it.” “Yeah,” I thought to myself. Even though I figured that I’d get lost, I enjoyed the ride. It was a winter scene. Harvested corn, cotton and soybean fields swallowed the arrow-straight roads. Some would have called it a lifeless moonscape. To me,


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

it was a rich bread basket. Besides, I knew that those wonderful agricultural soils also produced a lot of wildlife in the low spots too wet to plow and along the area’s skein of rivers and bayous. The snug, two-room camp was right where it was supposed to be, nestled next to another camp smack in the middle of nowhere. I quickly settled in and got to know my partners for the next two days of duck hunting. Branton, the owner of the camp, is a 46-year-old Pineville native, a retired Army National Guard sergeant first class and currently a general contractor. A life-long duck hunter, he started hunting with his dad on Catahoula Lake, after which he shifted to Saline (now Dewey W. Wills) Wildlife Management Area. By 1993, that area became “too crowded” for his liking, and he moved his attention northward to Rodney Island. “When the Mississippi River is right,” Branton quipped, “you can’t beat (the ducks) out of your decoys.”

Pothole fever

Potholes with narrow entrances such as this one, visible from the river, are located along both shores of the Boeuf River. RIGHT: The weight of the game strap after the morning’s hunt brought a grin to Mike Branton’s face. In 2006, he purchased the camp he is now using on the Tensas River delta near the confluence of the Tensas River and Bayou Macon. He owns three pieces of property totaling several hundred acres and hunts them often, but a lot of his hunting is in the numerous shallow “potholes,” as he calls them, bordering the Boeuf River, both on Boeuf Wildlife Management Area and in the riverbed across the river. “At times, the potholes are better than private areas,” he explained. “They can be phenomenal, especially in January when the river is up and more birds are down. Wood ducks in strong numbers can always be depended upon.” They, along with green-winged teal and gadwall, are considered by the men as “bread and butter” ducks. Mallards and spoonbills make up most of the remainder of the kill.


Photos by Jerald Horst

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman




How to access Boeuf River potholes Access to pothole hunting along Beouf River is by boat, so for people not familiar with the area finding a launch is necessary. Branton and Bordelon recommend two launch sites. One is directly into Boeuf River off of Louisiana State Highway 4 east of Columbia. Hunting can be done both upriver and downriver (where they hunt). A three-lane boat ramp is located at Harrisonburg Recreation Area, located on Highway 922 across the Ouachita River from Harrisonburg. Hunters using this ramp will have to travel up the Ouachita River seven miles to the fork of the Ouachita and Boeuf rivers, then up Boeuf River. Two campgrounds are located within driving distance: one on Boeuf Wildlife Management Area and another at Turkey Creek Park in Wisner. The nearest motels are in Columbia or Winnsboro. The men note that hunting regulations are different on the Boeuf Wildlife Management Area, which with its 50,971 acres takes up most of the west bank of the river. Most notably, waterfowl hunting must cease on the WMA at 2 p.m. They urge hunters to check Louisiana Department of Wildlife regulations for the area. Boeuf WMA also has several waterfowl impoundments (greentree reservoirs) managed for ducks. Walking in to these from the river is an option. If the river is moderately high, access is easy, as outboards can be driven directly into the potholes. At lower river stages, most of the potholes are separated from the river by a narrow sandbar, so prudent hunters bring pirogues unless they know the river is high enough for easy entry. Potholes along the river are fairly numerous and well defined. Hunters claim spots on a first-come-first served basis. If other hunters are set up in one, local custom dictates that later arrivals move on to another pothole. That isn’t really a problem because there are no real honey holes. “When the birds are here,” Branton said, “they are here. One pothole is pretty much as good as another. It can be phenomenal.” — Jerald Horst


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013



Boeuf River 135



135 4

To Columbia


Turkey Creek

Boeuf River


Boeuf WMA To Wisner

Ouachita River

8 Harrisonburg



December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Pothole fever

Jerald Horst


Pat Bordelon,

president of an engineering and manufacturing company in Pineville, has been Branton’s regular hunting partner for two years. Easy going and slow talking, the 56-yearold Marksville native and Pineville resident explained what he called his “passion” for hunting waterfowl. “I’m still mad at the ducks,” Bordelon said. “I’ve hunted all other species of small and large game, but duck hunting is part of who I am — figuring out what the birds are doing, dealing with the weather, being in the right place at the right time with the right setup.” Ironically, Bordelon grew up with a non-hunting father. “Dad grew up during the Depression and hunted for food for the table,” he explained. “He told me that when he didn’t have to hunt any more, he wouldn’t.” The elder Bordelon stopped hunting, but that didn’t stop the youngster. At 8 or 9, he hunted on family property in Avoyelles Parish. He used home-made cardboard cutouts for decoys, and wore Bunny Bread wrappers on his feet. By 16, he was able to access Bayou des Glaises Hunting Club land. After reaching adulthood, he built a camp on the

Hunters can simply stand in the brush near the water’s edge in the poor shooting light of early morning.

Red River and hunted deer, small game and waterfowl on Grassy Lake, Three Rivers and Red River wildlife management areas. That went on for a number of years until he tired of the hunting pressure. He sold the camp and joined the Virgin Bend Hunting Club, where he was a member for 10 years. Nowadays, he hunts on a lease adjacent to Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge and on Iatt Lake, as well as from Branton’s camp. The pair met through the Rapides Chapter of Ducks Unlimited when they jointly purchased a Manitoba, Canada, duck and goose hunt. Both of their wives are active in DU: Linda Branton was Rapides Chapter chair for two years, and Trenda Bordelon heads the chapter’s fund-raising and donations committee. The morning after I arrived at the camp was cold. Every breath huffed steam. The pair launched their outboard-propelled boat directly into the Boeuf River from a small private launch. Loaded in the boat with them was an odd-looking wooden paddle boat that looked like a pirogue, but wasn’t one. Bordelon called it a “jo boat.”

> 52

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

About those jo boats Although Mike Branton builds his own jo boats as a hobby, the true home for these little craft is Marksville in Avoyelles Parish. The only boat-builder in Marksville who now builds the craft is Pat Bordelon’s couisin, Dennis Decuir (who has a classified ad on The 61-year-old Decuir said he has been using the craft all his life and builds three versions of wooden paddle boats. Naturally, one of them is a traditional double-ended pirogue. The version that Branton and Bordelon used on their hunt had a pointed bow and square stern, and is called a “jo boat.” The third variant is square on both ends and is referred to as a “john boat.” According to Decuir, the square stern of the jo boat provides more stability and allows hunters to carry more weight, such as decoys or a dog. Most stable of all is the john boat, which he calls an ideal fishing boat. All of his boats are built of cypress, with the exception of the bottom for which he uses exterior plywood. All three boats are built to a standard length of 12 feet, with a 24-inch bottom. Decuir is delighted to talk to anyone about boat building — what he calls his “full-time hobby.” He may be reached at 318-359-9833 or — Jerald Horst

Courtesy Dennis Decuir

The three boats traditional to Avoyelles Parish and built by Dennis Decuir are (left to right) a pirogue, a jo boat and a john boat.

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Pothole fever

How to clean ducks using wax Both Pat Bordelon and Mike Branton love to eat ducks. They eat them roasted. They eat them smoked. They eat them in gumbo. They eat them as baconwrapped roll-ups. “My momma makes cornbread dressing with them,” Branton said. “She uses my grandmother’s recipe.” But nothing can ruin a duck for the table faster than a poorly cleaned bird. Both men swear by cleaning their ducks using melted paraffin wax, a method many hunters have heard about, but few have done. “The good thing about waxing ducks,” chuckled Branton, “is that it gives you time to drink a beer while the wax is heating up.” Of course, he was kidding — at least partly. The best things about waxing ducks is that it is fast, easy and produces a beautiful bird with no pin feathers or fuzz. Branton, ever full of one-liners, admired the first bird after he cracked off the hard wax. Not a BB hole marred the breast. “It don’t make no difference if they’re flying or not,” he said. “All they gotta do is get close enough.” Follow these steps to produce your own gorgeous birds for the table:


4 54

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

1) After cutting off the birds’ wings, rough pluck them to remove the larger and stiffer tail and body feathers. 2) Melt paraffin wax in a pot large enough to accommodate dipping the bodies of the largest birds to be cleaned. Use enough wax to submerge the entire birds’ bodies except for the head. A seafood boiling rig is ideal for heating the wax. 3) Holding the head, dip each bird — one at a time — in the melted wax up to its neck, and then remove it slowly while using a stick to scrape off and conserve any excess wax. 4) Drop the birds into buckets of cold water to allow the wax to harden. 5) After the wax has hardened, crack it off the body of the bird. It should remove all the feathers. Used wax filled with feathers may be strained for reuse, but doing so requires more propane for heating it. Branton and Bordelon discard the wax removed from the birds. 6) The clean bird is then ready for removal of its head and gutting. — Jerald Horst





December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Pothole fever


Even in the dark,

it was easy by moonlight to see numerous openings through the low willows and dried-up weedy sesbania on each side of the river. At one clearing that looked like all the rest, Bordelon slowed the boat and idled through the opening into an elongated pond surrounded on three sides by trees. It looked like, well, a pothole. He idled the boat to a likely looking spot in the trees and brush, and they quickly unloaded their gear. While Bordelon moved the boat to a nook to hide it, Branton scooted out with the jo boat to set six wood duck and six mallard decoys. The little boat was impressive. It seemed to glide on top of the water rather than cut through it like a traditional pirogue, performance that I suspected was due to the rise in the stern that gave the little craft a push from paddling instead of suction. Branton pulled the jo boat into the trees about the time that Bordelon returned from hiding the outboard. He turned and looked at his decoy spread with satisfaction. “Wood duck decoys are my favorite decoy,” Bordelon said. “They work with anything. I think that wood ducks are the smartest duck there is.”

FACING PAGE: Pat Bordelon calls duck hunting his passion in life. The two men loaded their guns and stepped into the brush at the water’s edge to be able to see better in the poor light. After no more than two minutes, Branton asked mischievously, “Is it time yet? Is it time yet?” Bordelon slowly shook his head from side to side. Through his face mask, a big grin was visible. At barely a minute after legal shooting time, a drake wood duck sailed in and unceremoniously plopped down on the edge of the decoys. “Should I shoot him?” Branton hissed. Without waiting for an answer — boom! “That’s the way I like to shoot ’em,” he grinned sheepishly. “Got no BBs in the breast. I like to eat them.” A pair of woodies tried to slip by, to no avail. Two shots, two dead ducks. Branton zipped out with the jo boat to retrieve them. The little boat was fast and could turn on a dime. I was beginning to like it. Every few minutes, Branton stepped up the bank to pour a shot of coffee — “aiming fluid,” he called it — for himself. On one trip, he took a sip. “These little pot holes are good for wood ducks,” he said. “The river’s got plenty of current in it, and they get up in here to feed and pick feathers.”


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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Pothole fever

Cooking the kill Hunting ducks is fun. Cooking them is a lot tougher. Waterfowl are easily the most difficult of all wild game to cook. Rolling marinated boneless breasts in bacon and grilling them has claimed the loyalty of a lot of duck hunters, but unless a duck cook has a good recipe for whole birds his culinary arsenal is incomplete. Mike Branton came up with this recipe at his duck camp by looking through the camp’s cabinets and making do with what he had on hand. He smokes his birds in an electric smoker, almost a necessity for his recipe because of the need for a low cooking temperature to be held for eight hours. The birds need to be injected, seasoned and marinated overnight in a refrigerator the day before they are to be cooked. As lagniappe to the smoked duck recipe, Pat Bordelon’s Spicy Green Pepper Corn with Sausage recipe, a perfect trimming for the ducks is included. Smoked Duck Even though Branton is a fan of all things Phil Robertson, he allows that Creole seasoning can be

substituted (using ¾ as much) for Phil Robertson’s seasoning if it is unavailable. You will need a seasoning injector for this recipe. The seasoning will turn the ducks’ skins very dark. This is expected and no cause for alarm, and in fact the crispy skin is one of the prime features of the recipe. Ingredients: 4 medium-sized ducks, plucked, not skinned 1 cup olive oil 2 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce 4 tbsp Dale’s (liquid) Steak Seasoning 3 tbsp Phil Robertson’s Cajun Style Seasoning 1 tbsp Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning Wash the ducks and pat them dry with paper towels. Mix the ingredients well and inject ¾ of the mixture through the vent openings into the meat under the ducks’ skins, being careful not to puncture the skin anywhere. Rub the remainder of the marinade on the birds’ skins, and then season them liberally with more Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Put the ducks in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight to marinade.

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Pothole fever

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Dark, crispy skin on the finished birds is desirable. Note the corn and pepper side dish. The next day, set the smoker for 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the birds on perforated foil on a smoker rack with a drip pan beneath and cook for eight hours. They are ready when their thighs are loose from the bodies. Serves 4. Spicy Green Pepper Corn with Sausage 1 small onion, chopped 1 bell pepper, chopped 1 poblano pepper, chopped Olive oil 1 link (1/3 pound) smoked sausage sliced into ½-inch rings 2 15-ounce cans whole kernel corn Salt and black pepper to taste Saute onion and peppers in olive oil in a 2-quart pot until soft. Add the smoked sausage and continue to cook until the sausage begins to break down. Add the corn and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat until the corn shows some signs of slight browning. You might need to add more olive oil to keep the corn from sticking to the pot. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook about 15 minutes so that the flavors blend. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Serves 4-6 as a side dish. — Jerald Horst


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Pothole fever

Mike Branton (left) and Pat Bordelon prize wood ducks for their superior qualities as table fare.


Wood ducks,

with their distinctive cry —“weenk, weenk” — drifted by overhead and all around the hunters in singles, trios and small flocks. After adding a fourth woodie to their bag at 7:20 a.m., the men backed away from the water’s edge into the woods and took seats on their folding dove stools. “You have to have patience,” Bordelon said softly. He seemed to relish the uncertainties of duck hunting. Branton agreed. “You can manage for deer,” he said. “They ain’t going anywhere. A friend of mine said about ducks, ‘You can set the table, but they might not come.’” Both men occasionally gave short mallard calls when no ducks were visible. “Once the birds around here get pressured a lot, you’re best off calling when you don’t see anything rather than when you do,” Branton explained. “It’s like they are looking for a quiet spot.” The men easily filled their six-bird wood duck limit and retired happy from the field of combat to the camp. Smoked duck was on the menu that night. The next day was even better than the first because the hunters were able to add green-winged teal to their bag.

Are you ready for the

Hunting with the two men was a kick; they were so much alike, yet so different. They both showed a fierce intensity while hunting. When a flock of wood ducks buzzed overhead, their quickening pulses were almost audible. Both were crack shots. Misses were few. But Bordelon is quiet, well-spoken and solid, just what you would expect from a corporate CEO. Branton, on the other hand, is a hyper, crew-cut chatterbox with a mischievous grin. While hunting, he is like a wired-up cat waiting to pounce. Branton’s electric energy is fueled at least partly by coffee. He hits this thermos regularly, claiming his “aiming fluid … keeps my eye calibrated.” Both men handled harvested ducks with care, almost reverence. Branton carried a drake wood duck by its bill, smoothing its feathers. “A friend of mine asked me if I’m readying them for their funerals,” he grinned. But it’s not that. “Ducks are so purty,” Branton said, accentuating his North Louisiana accent for his ew F a y l Cajun friend’s benefit. n O ft e L s They filled their wood duck t o Sp ! limits early, and when the teal 3 1 0 in 2 quit flying Branton somewhat sadly announced, “Well, it’s time to call in the dogs and build a fire.” whitetail hunting trip of a lifetime? He grunted when he picked • 1,700 acre whitetail ranch up the game strap. ■

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Jerald Horst

Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013


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The Easy 66

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

You can find trout in a lot of places in the Louisiana marsh, but these anglers know a spot that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even require cranking the main motor. Learn how they mine Geoghegan Canal to load the boat. Text and Photos

By Chris Ginn

y Button

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


The Easy Button

I started carrying cash because of the emotional connection I have to break to give it to somebody else. Debit card? There is no such bond. Swipe, swipe here. Push a couple buttons. Swipe, swipe there. The next thing you know, it’s swipe, swipe — decline! But until then, boy, can you live high on the hog. I also have an emotional connection to outboard motors, and I have to break that emotional connection to my gas tank and wallet every time I turn the key. Trolling motors are the fishing version of a debit card. Swipe it up and into the water. Push a couple buttons. Off you go. Batteries being a finite power source, you will eventually be declined, but until then — boy, you can live high on the hog. Especially if you set your sights on Geoghegan Canal — saltwater fishing’s version of the easy button. Nowhere is there a more-plentiful supply of speckled trout so close to a boat ramp during December in all of Louisiana. In fact, you could drop your trolling motor at Rigolets Marina and be on top of piles of speckled trout in just a few minutes. That’s exactly what Claude Jolicoeur and Kris Rice do on a regular basis. “If there’s a line on a Saturday morning, I may crank the big motor and idle just to try to beat anybody else going to the same spot,” Jolicoeur told me as we pushed away from the dock. “But I mainly just like to get here early and take my time.” I learned that Jolicoeur and Rice had been whackstacking the trout through Rice’s sister Taylor, who often broke the monotony of my English language arts class with stories of her brother’s fishing trips. Since I was sometimes just as tired of transitive verbs as she was, I frequently obliged and listened to her spin some awesome fishing stories. Sometimes her stories were a little more than I could believe, so I eventually decided I had to see it with my own eyes. “Tell him I want to go with him,” I told his little sister one day after class.

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

When it finally gets cold enough to stack up the trout in Geoghegan Canal, Claude Jolicoeur has found that the action is often nonstop until about 10 a.m.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


The Easy Button

Soft-plastic tips for Geoghegan Canal Many anglers like adding a little insurance in the form of live shrimp in their livewells when they push off from the dock. And there are times when having the real thing can turn the tide to your favor. However, Claude Jolicoeur doesn’t see any reason to bring shrimp with him when he’s fishing Geoghegan Canal. “We’ve mainly been throwing the Matrix Shad,” he told me, as he handed me one to thread onto my jighead. “You can bring shrimp with you, but I don’t even bother because I’ve never had the need to us them instead of this.” In fact, Jolicoeur told me a story about a fellow he took fishing not too long ago. “I had a guy buy 40 shrimp at the marina before we left one morning,” he recalled. “He came out here fishing with us, and I took home 35 shrimp and made a little fettuccini.” As if on cue, a trout inhaled Jolicoeur’s Matrix Shad right to help him drive home his point. After adding that fish to the livewell, Jolicoeur passed on a little information about how he fishes the Matrix Shad in Geoghegan

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Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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FACING PAGE: If you’re looking to catch trout like this without the headache of having to make a long boat run, there’s no better place in all of Louisiana this month than Geoghegan Canal in Slidell. Canal. “After I make a cast, I actually let out 5 or 6 feet of line,” he said. “If you don’t let that line out while it’s dropping, it’s coming toward you.” That might not sound like such a big deal, but Jolicoeur wants his Matrix Shad to hit bottom right on top of the ridge in the middle of Geoghegan Canal. The pendulum effect caused from not stripping line as your bait falls means it’s going to hit bottom closer to your boat than right on top of the ridge. “Then you’ll swear there isn’t a trout out here,” Jolicoeur laughed. “And if your bait starts getting chewed up, you’ll want to switch it because you want a good, fresh bait. “Once it starts falling down on your hook, it looks a little funny and they just won’t hit it.” Jolicoeur decided to give me a little demonstration about how to rig the Matrix Shad, and he seemed to be a stickler for having a straight bait. “You want it as straight as can be, he said. “Any crookedness, you want it to come out in the middle — no bends — anything that makes it not look right. Trout are very finicky, and they will second guess. “If it don’t look right they won’t hit it.” — Chris Ginn






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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman



T Kris Rice lends his fishing partner Claude Jolicoeur an assist in getting this trout in the boat.

Loreauville, LA 74

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

The Easy Button

he next thing I knew, I was idling through the predawn darkness with Rice and Jolicoeur on the way to their Geoghegan hotspot. The story that caught my ear was that Rice and Jolicoeur had been catching increasingly higher numbers of trout over the course of three or four weeks. “Usually I’ll come into Geoghegan when the water temperature goes below 50 degrees down to around 43,” Jolicoeur said after he threw a few early trout in the boat. “When it gets cold, they usually bite pretty heavy in Geoghegan.” But it wasn’t cold. Jolicoeur and Rice got stuck in a storm last year that they couldn’t get out of. A strong north wind sent them straight to Geoghegan for a little relief. “We knocked them,” Jolicoeur recalled. “So we kept coming back, even through it wasn’t all that cold — and they just got thicker and thicker in here.” This particular morning, Jolicoeur and Rice had us rigged up with 3-inch shrimp creole- and tiger bait-colored Matrix Shads rigged on ¼- and 3/8-ounce jigheads. One of the first fishing lessons I ever learned was to closely observe he hot hand in a boat. When somebody in the boat with you is catching fish while you aren’t, it’s often more a case of them doing something just a little bit different than what you are doing.


This morning, I noticed that Jolicoeur and Rice were really ripping their baits hard off the bottom. I figured I should be fishing slowly since it was December, but I was wrong. Jolicoeur and Rice were jerking their baits so violently off the bottom that I first thought they were trying to get them unhung. “You really want to pop it heavy,” Jolicoeur said. “If you’re slacking just a little bit, they won’t grab it. When you pop it, you want to pull it up about 3 or 4 feet and let it drop.” As important as the violent pop seemed to be, it was the drop that was the key to the bite. Just about every trout we caught bit our baits on the way down. And there were several times trout were just sitting on our baits as we tried to pop them off the bottom. Those were the easy fish to hook because we were literally setting the hook when we tried to make another pop. Jolicoeur and Rice had expected that our best bite would be a little later in the morning after the sun had a chance to get up higher in the sky, so they were pleasantly surprised that we put so many trout in the boat so early. “As the sun comes up, the bite gets a little stronger,” Jolicoeur said. But the opposite seemed true on this trip. And for some reason, the bite picked up each time the fog thickened as it tried to maintain its stranglehold on the morning. Now, I’ve been in enough bay boats to know that anglers don’t always have to position their boats out deep and cast toward the bank to catch fish. In fact, I’ve seen it just the opposite way too many times for me to consider it a fluke. These anglers said there’s a good reason to throw toward the center of the canal instead of to the bank. “There’s a shelf out toward the middle of the canal,” Jolicoeur explained. “So if you put your boat out in the middle here and cast to the bank, you’re going to be sitting right on top of the fish.”

They aren’t all studs during December, but a box full of trout like this makes for some fine eating.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


The Easy Button



lthough we stayed put at the northern corner of Geoghegan Pond, Jolicoeur has gotten on enough piles of trout up and down the canal to know there really isn’t one magic spot. In fact, every cold front that comes through brings in more and more fish throughout the early part of winter.

catching them.” Since we weren’t ready to go home just yet, we headed to a little patch of grass just south of the Hospital Wall, where Rice wanted to get on some redfish. After landing a nice flounder, Rice explained how he and Jolicoeur approach fishing out of Rigolets Marina during December. “Our bite dies about 8:30 or 9,” he said. “And

“They’re not just here at this point,” he said. “They’re scattered all the way down the canal. You’ll catch them from here all the way to within 100 yards of Rigolets Marina.” By 8:30 a.m., we were just picking at the trout, so Jolicoeur moved us to the back of Geoghegan Pond where we found white trout stacked up so thickly that we could feel our baits bumping into them as they fell. Of course, they didn’t fall all that far before being attacked. “Sometimes the trout will stack up in this deep hole at the back of this pond,” Jolicoeur said, “and sometimes it will fill up with white trout. Either way, it’s a great spot to bring some kids — especially if the white trout are here, because they can yank on fish until they get tired of

that’s typical of fishing in Geoghegan during the winter. If it stays cold, you might be able to stay on them over there all day long, but when it warms up, like it usually does this time of year, you can come over here and hit these reds as they start pushing around some on these little flats.” We finished our day working on a giant school of bull reds under a flock of birds right off the Hospital Wall. Never were we farther than two miles from Rigolets Marina, and that was only when we left Geoghegan to go try the redfish. And that sounds like something anybody can do no matter how strong an emotional connection he or she has with their wallets. ■

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Although Claude Jolicoeur likes to slam the trout in Geoghegan Canal, he doesn’t mind landing the occasional door-mat flounder.

Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


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Hunting the

Andy Crawford

Most hunters recognize deer management as a goal, but only a few are willing to put out the effort necessary to produce trophy deer. This hunting club just across the state line bought into a program at its inception, and now members enjoy unreal hunting. By Andy Crawford he opening could be seen through the trees as I eased toward the food plot. When the path made a final turn, I could see the green patch ahead. I slowed down and worked my way around a huge mud hole, easing toward the end of the trail just in case deer had already made it to the food plot. Sure enough, three deer were feeding on the left side of the field as I peered around the corner of the trees. I eased to my knees, trying to figure out how to get to the stand without messing up the rest of my afternoon hunt. And then movement directly across the field caught my eye. I looked, and my knees went weak: A tall-racked buck was standing beneath a tree on the edge of the food plot, looking into the woods.



This 3 ½-year-old 12-point satisfied the requirements of Greg Hackneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s club, but Hackney wished the deer had been allowed to walk and grow another year.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Hunting the Zoo


trigger finger itched as I counted 8 points

and estimated a 17-inch inside spread. All I had to do was ease my muzzleloader to my shoulder, wait for the deer to turn just a bit, and it would be a 60-yard chip shot.

But I didn’t even move the gun.

I was on a restricted hunting plan for this late-January trip, meaning I was allowed to shoot only a deer of a lifetime. It all began about eight hours before, when I met Greg Hackney at his Gonzales home for the ride to his Washington County hunting club. We had discussed his high standards several days earlier, and I was astounded when he shared his standards for a shooter buck. “I’m looking for a 6-year-old deer,” Hackney said. “I don’t hunt horns; I’m more interested in age.” I explained that determining a 4 ½-year-old buck wouldn’t be a big problem but that I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen a deer as old as he was talking about. I tried my best to weaken the strictures, but it was clear he was going to be stubborn. “Earlier in the year, you don’t know if a buck is going to survive the rut, so if you kill a younger buck it’s no big deal,” Hackney said. “But I know these deer are going to make it now, and I want to let them grow another year.” I hoped he would feel sorry for me and eventually cave,

but he laid down the law as we drove to the property. And just to be sure I didn’t misunderstand, he clarified how serious he was about shooting very mature bucks. “Now let me tell you: If my best friend messes up, he won’t be invited back,” the B.A.S.S. professional angler and die-hard hunter said. “He’ll still be my best friend, but he’ll never hunt (on Hackney’s club) again.” Ironically, a wave of relief washed over me: The last thing I wanted to do was kill a buck that didn’t measure up and ruin any chance of future trips. By taking out 4 ½-year-old bucks, I figured I was pretty much on a sight-seeing trip. I mean, what were the chances of me seeing many big bucks, anyway? I could pass on young baskets all day long with no problem. That relief had now turned sour, as I watched one of the biggest 8-pointers I’d ever seen alive just standing there, less than a football field away. While one of my inner voices kept screaming at me to shoot, another voice pointed out the deer aged only about 3 ½ years old — far from the shooter Hackney mandated.

Patience, flexibility key to effective management Many hunters claim they would like to kill trophies, while at the same time making hunting all about the numbers. What these hunters don’t understand is that quality deer require time to develop, and that means sacrifices have to be made. “It’s not going to happen overnight,” Greg Hackney said. “It’s going to take three to four years before you’ll see a significant difference.” That’s exactly how the deer herd developed on the Washington County property Hackney hunts. “The club began in 1985, and we immediately got on the program of shooting does,” said Paul Wiggins, one of the original member/owners of the property. “The people who had the land before us ran dogs, and would shoot a few does and any buck they saw.” Hunting those first few years after Wiggins and his buddies took over the property didn’t produce many bucks, but then the herd finally made a turn. “It took somewhere between three and five years to 82

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

whittle down the does and let the bucks come on up (in numbers),” he said. “In less than five years, you noticed a marked change.” Since that point, club members have enforced an antler requirement calling for at least 8 points and 18-inch beam length, and the club’s wall is now lined with the fruits of those first few years. “That’s the deal with management: The first few years, you don’t kill much but then after a few years you can kill a lot of deer,” Hackney said. “After a few years of management, you’ll have more does, you’ll have bigger bucks and healthier deer. “It’s fun.” The other big advantage of an aggressive doe-shooting plan up front is that the deer herd begins to balance out. Hackney said the 24 years of management on this piece of property has resulted in a herd that is almost a 1:1 buck/doe ratio. And that has huge benefits for hunters.

The buck finally saw something in the woods that piqued its interest, and it bounded away to investigate. The other three deer, which turned out to be young bucks, followed their older brother, and the field was empty. I eased through the woods to the stand, not wanting to take a step into the food plot. Within 30 minutes, the parade really began. Deer after deer stepped out to my left, feeding on the winter wheat in the plot. I glassed them carefully, and was amazed to find that each was a spike. With more than 15 deer in the plot, the second racked buck of the day stepped out — a basket 8-pointer. It was followed by another 8-point, which was followed by yet a third. The situation was turning almost comical. I mean, I was watching three racks feeding 200 yards from me, and there was nothing I could do about it. It did help that none of the deer were particularly spectacular. The number in the plot grew to more than 20 deer within the next few minutes, and I couldn’t find a doe in the bunch. So I sat back and pulled out my camera.

Any effective management program includes shooting does, with the goal of bringing the population into balance. The benefits are an increased number of healthy bucks without stressing the habitat.

Andy Crawford


“When there are too many does, the bucks breed at night,” Hackney said. “They’re that ghost deer that everyone sees driving in at night. But when the herd is balanced, the bucks have to move because there’s more competition out there for the does.” The competition for does has gotten so stiff on Hackney’s club that bucks have actually torn their antlers up fighting. “I don’t want to see the buck ratio get any higher now because it puts a lot more stress on the bucks,” he said. Wiggins said that reaching the point where having too many bucks is a realistic concern required more than just a one-dimensional dedication to a specific plan. “We try to maintain some flexibility while keeping some standards,” he explained. “What we’re dealing with is not an exact science; you have to tweak it. “Things out there in nature don’t stay the same.” That willingness to change is an important part of any management plan, Anderson-Tully Lumber Company biologist

Mike Staten said. “For instance, last year we had a tremendous flood (along the Mississippi River); it was the third-highest river level on record,” Staten said. “We had a terrible fawn crop.” Flexible management would allow clubs affected by these floodwaters to make adjustments to account for the smaller number of new deer moving into their herds, and Staten said Anderson-Tully lessees were asked to reduce the number of does they shot. “I recommended they take a few less does last season,” he said. “It’s a whole lot easier to take a few more (does) next year than to put them back.” Clubs that refuse to change their rules and continue to shoot consistent numbers of does when fawn numbers are down can hurt themselves down the road. “The fawn crop is the key — you can’t kill deer if you don’t produce them,” Staten said.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Hunting the Zoo


Andy Crawford


Doubt what deer management can accomplish? Check out the camp wall at Hackney’s club for proof that patience and planning pay off.

Andy Crawford

was shooting photos of one of the 8-points, when I glanced the opposite way and caught a glimpse of a huge-bodied buck bounding away from the far corner. In the two long jumps it made before disappearing into thick underbrush, I had the impression of a massive rack atop the deer’s head, but nothing of which I could be certain. My eye went back to my camera and the crowd of deer to the left side of the stand. I was shooting images of two of the young bucks, when at the corner of the camera’s viewfinder I saw another deer just inside the trees at the far end of the field. My mouth sagged when I glanced up from the camera and saw the rack on the deer. It was massive, stretching well outside the body of the buck. My heart stopped momentarily, and then pounded away at a rate high enough to make me lightheaded. After a few moments of studying the field, the buck stepped out and calmly began feeding. Six tall main-beam tines stretched upward around a 20-inch frame, and 6- to 8-inch brow tines rounded out the crown of calcium. My sole trophy, a 16-inch 8-point hanging on my living room wall at home, would have easily fit inside this deer’s head gear. THIS was the biggest deer I’d seen on the hoof, and it was feeding my way. I desperately studied the deer’s body, trying to figure out how old it was. It had a deep belly, but the back wasn’t particularly saggy. A thick, muscular neck bulged from behind the deer’s ears and attached its head to a bulky chest. Four and a half years, easy. I was leaning toward 5 ½, and trying to convince myself it was 6 ½.

The relaxed demeanor of these bucks, one of which was a 130-class 8-point that was about 4 ½ years old, is another benefit of not shooting every deer that walks out.

Keep records to track progress Detailed and meticulous records are vital tools for clubs wanting to raise the bar, Anderson-Tully Lumber Company biologist Mike Staten said. “I think they need to know the age of every deer they kill. I think they need to know the weight of every deer they kill,” Staten said. “They need to have antler measurements on each deer they kill.” Staten, who has helped clubs manage their deer for more than three decades, said many clubs don’t understand the importance of those vital statistics. “I’ll ask them about their hunting, and they say, ‘We kill some good deer,’ and then I ask them to see their records, and they say, ‘Well, uh …,’” Staten said. 84

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Recording age and weight, along with lactation status on does, allows a real assessment of how their management plan is progressing. “They have a real good set of information to live by every year,” he said. “They can make informed decisions based on those records.” He said another benefit is showing whether or not a club’s stated goals are being met. “You can look at those records and see change over time,” Staten said. “It’s very easy to get frustrated and quit (a management plan) without having something to substantiate the gains.”

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Hunting the Zoo


Jason Young has killed several monsters, including this 10-point, on his Mississippi hunting property.

Jason Young


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Thomas Whitney


hour later, the deer was standing broadside about 40 yards away. By this point, I was studying the buck through my rifle scope and was firmly convinced the deer was at LEAST 5 ½ years old, MAYBE 6 ½. My right forefinger felt like ants were crawling around under skin, and I almost had to put my hand in my pocket to keep that finger away from the trigger. The deer stayed in the field for more than 2 hours, most of that time spent right in front of the stand at no more than 100 paces. It was maddening. But Hackney’s warning echoed through my head, keeping me focused and in check. Darkness finally cloaked the field, and I climbed from the stand with visions of probably my most-exciting hunt still playing in my mind. Back at the camp, I pulled out my camera and showed Hackney photos of the deer. He wasn’t too impressed. “It’s still a young deer,” he said. “See how his chest is bigger than his neck? A fully mature deer’s neck will come into its chest and form sort of a block. “It’s a nice deer, but it’s probably only 4 ½ years old.” I argued with him, but he wouldn’t budge. The next morning, Hackney hunted an in-the-woods stand near that same food plot. When he picked me up from my stand mid-morning where I had watched several does and a couple of young bucks cross, he said he had seen several big-racked deer. “I was on my stand, and I kept hearing deer fighting in a thicket just off that food plot you hunted,” he explained. “I eased over there, and four deer stood up.” One of them was the deer I had desperately wanted to shoot the evening before. “It’s a better deer than I thought,” Hackney admitted. “It’s got a lot of mass.” But he didn’t even consider shooting it.

Thomas Whitney took advantage of his father’s club membership to kill a 7-point with main beams he could barely fit his hands around.

Hackney hopes that tons of protein feed annually will produce even more monsters like this one killed by a guest.

Protein could produce bigger bucks

The club placed 29 protein feeders throughout the property to help deer make it through the stressful summer and produce even larger racks.

As we drove off the property, Greg Hackney and I passed a large flat-bed trailer being towed to the club’s camp. On that trailer were sacks of protein. Hackney could barely contain his excitement. “We’ve got 29 feeders set up on the property, and we’re going to pour protein to the deer for four months this spring,” he said. When all was said and done, deer on the property ate 16 tons of protein. “We did eight tons originally, and they ate that up pretty quickly,” club president Paul Wiggins explained. “So we went and got four more (tons), and then four more after that.” Wiggins said the impact on antler development was yet to be proven, since this was the first year club members sprung for protein. However, he said benefits went far beyond simply producing more trophies. “We go through a time when food is a little short coming out of the season,” he said. “Protein will help get them through that time period.” Hackney, while concerned with the overall wellbeing of the deer herd, couldn’t be more optimistic about the prospects

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for biggerracked bucks after the feeding program. “We kill some really nice bucks already, so this area has the genetics,” he said. “All these deer got this big eating weeds — just Andy Crawford think what feeding protein will do.” Regardless of the goal in feeding protein — herd health or larger racks — the bottom line is that such supplementary programs aren’t out of the reach of many clubs. “I figured it out the other day, and 16 tons cost us right at $8,000,” Wiggins said. “That’s $1,000 a member, so it’s really not that expensive.”

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One of the biggest benefits to proper deer management is a sustainable population of deer. “You’re trying to keep your food in balance with the number of animals you have so they’ll have plenty to eat,” Paul Wiggins said. Mike Staten, an Anderson-Tully Lumber Company biologist who works with Wiggins and his fellow club members, said maintaining the balance between animals and food is not just important but critically important. “That’s the cornerstone of it all,” he said. “You need to constantly be working on your habitat. “I like to say that deer are solar-powered: Sunlight to the ground makes the vegetation that deer can reach grow, and you have to have that food to have healthy deer.” Staten said that becomes a real issue when trees aren’t harvested and their canopies meet to shade out understory. “If you don’t have the food, you can’t grow deer,” he said.

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Hunting the Zoo



still only about 4½ years old,” he said. It was after the second evening hunt that I realized just how serious Hackney was about letting bucks age. One of the other members’ sons had arrived earlier with a couple of buddies, and Hackney and I ran into them on our way out of woods from the evening hunt. In the back of their truck, we could see just the tip of a rack sticking up. It turned out to be a 12-point with maybe a 15-inch inside spread. Nice, but not spectacular, although it did fully satisfy the club’s rules. Hackney was less than pleased, especially since the deer probably aged out at only 3½ years. “I can’t believe he killed a deer like that at the end of the season,” he fumed. “That’s the kind of deer that you want to pass up because he would be a monster next year.” It was an amazing statement because the deer was very nice, even if it wasn’t a monster. But over the three days I spent hunting with Hackney, I came to understand why this hunter felt so strongly. The property was simply a zoo filled with rack bucks. I never sat the stand without seeing deer, and on all but one of the four hunts I saw at least one rack buck.

The club provides the opportunity for young hunters to be spoiled, with huge-racked deer like this being not uncommon.


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Shoot or don’t shoot?

Bucks can have the best genetics and the best food sources in the world, but they’ll never reach trophy proportions if they aren’t allowed to age. The author was tempted to drop this healthy buck.

Someone who has never hunted property holding numbers of racks would have a heart attack on Greg Hackney’s club trying to decide if a deer was a shooter or not. But Hackney said one question will help make the right call. “Ask yourself, ‘Am I hurting the club by killing that deer? Am I taking something that can help the property?’” he said. One of Hackney’s club mates said a shift in thinking also helps. “You’ve got to get over thinking your neighbor is going to kill it,” Jason Young said. “You’ve got to let deer walk.” And Mike Staten, biologist for Anderson-Tully Lumber Company and consultant for Hackney’s and Young’s club, said the bucks that are most impressive should be allowed to age. “I’m a believer that the 9-points and 10-points have the best chances of getting big,” Staten said. “Those are the ones that you blast as soon as you see them, but they’re the ones that should be allowed to age. “It’s a change in philosophy.” That’s why Hackney pushed for a change in club rules that allows each member only two bucks with nine or more points.

Andy Crawford

“If you want to kill the first two 9-points that walk out, that’s fine. You’re done,” he explained. “But when you only have two, you’re going to think on it a little.” The other four deer in each member’s allotment, from which guest bucks detract, can be any buck meeting basic club rules. “That way, a fellow can come up here and kill the biggest 8-point he’s ever seen, but not hurt the camp,” Hackney explained. When it comes time to decide whether or not to shoot, Hackney said his rule is simple. “If you ever hesitate on one, don’t pull the trigger,” he said. “If you ever think, ‘Oh, he’s not big enough,’ there’s a 99-percent chance he’s not.”

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Hunting the Zoo

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the final hunt of the trip, I watched four 8-pointers feeding in an oak flat. Three of those would have died on most other pieces of property. And the lines of mounted racks on the wall of the camp, along with albums full of photos of deer kills, gave testament to the potential of the property. Hunters on the property took 27 bucks last year, and a majority of those were at least 4½ years old. Three of them were 6½-year-old brutes, while seven had reached 5 ½ years of age before being killed. Another nine were 4 ½ years old. Only two bucks were 2 1/2 years old. Hackney said each of the deer that had reached at least 4 ½ years of age were great bucks, providing proof of what could be accomplished with determined management. “We have the genetics and the population to produce really big deer,” Hackney said on the way home. “You’ve just got to let them grow to take that next step. “I don’t care what you do: A deer isn’t going to get big unless he gets old.” ■


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman



chill Text and Photos

By Jerald Horst


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

This month Vermilion Bay will clog with boats full of anglers taking advantage of the annual trout run, but this guide knows where he can catch just as many fish without fighting the crowds.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Vermilion chill

When it’s cold, it can be hot. At least that’s what Steve Smith, owner and operator of Stillwater Outfitters (337-654-3880), promised me. I scrunched my neck down into my collar and tried to inconspicuously hunch myself behind the windshield of his fast bay boat, hoping Smith wouldn’t notice. It was a nippy 13-mile run across Vermilion Bay from Cypremort Point through Southwest Pass off the western end of Marsh Island, followed by another 3 ½ miles in the Gulf to our destination: Tete Butte Reef. I had spent quite a bit of time with Smith before. He was one of the 14 speckled trout guides featured in my book “Trout Masters Too: How the Pros Do It.” I knew that he was a tough guy and a ferocious competitor. I knew that, before he became a charter fishing guide in 2009, he raced 700-horsepower sprint cars that ran 140

mph (which made me wonder if he had a death wish) and competed in Iron Man Triathlon competitions (which made me doubt his sanity). Those guys swim 2.4 miles, peddle a bicycle 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles. Ugh! We were making the run to Tete Butte Reef for a reason — to get away from the pressure of the crowds. This time of year, from October to December, speckled trout fishing in Vermilion Bay is prime-time stuff. Hotspots in the bay — the Cove, the Hammock, Blue Point, Weeks Bay and the Trash Pile — hold lots of trout.

And those trout attract lots of boats. “Some days, 75 to 80 boats will be within earshot of each other,” Smith said, “especially at the Cove. It’s kind of a production to go out there (to Tete Butte), but nobody else will be there. “Trout will be easy pickings off the top of the reef. You’ll see.” Smith had seduced me by promises of hot topwater speckled trout action, something a little uncommon in December in most places. “I’ve duck hunted in the morning, and after the hunt, run out here and gotten a limit of trout,” he said matter-of-factly. “The weather just can’t be too bad to run across the bay. The reef is completely sheltered from north winds.” Indeed, Tete Butte Reef is snugged up to within 200 yards of the Gulf of Mexico shoreline of Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve.


The shell reefs offshore of Vermilion Bay are considered speckled trout hotspots.


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Things to know before you go

Steve Smith knows wintertime topwater trout action on the edge of the Gulf is very possible.

Steve Smith is the ultimate teacher. The back of his business card is emblazoned with “Things to know before you go!!!!,’ followed by directions to four information sources to make successful Vermilion Bay area fishing trips on your own. Here are his Top 4 sources of information:

1) Anglers can get a daily satellite image of the area from http://ge.ssec., which provides aerial photographs allowing fishermen to see what the water looks like. According to Smith, the imagery is clear enough that water dirtied by wind or Atchafalaya River discharges can clearly be seen. This is especially important for Gulf waters south of Marsh Island, and can save anglers a long trip for nothing. However, Smith cautions that cloud cover can interfere with the satellite’s imagery. 2) Check the Atchafalaya River state by visiting gov/ahps2/hydrograph. php?wfo=lix&gage=blrl1. There is general agreement amongst Vermilion anglers that river stages above 10 feet at the Butte La Rose Gauge produce muddy river discharges that interfere with successful speckled trout fishing. Generally speaking, and with a lot of variation, river levels fall below 10 feet between June and August and rise above the magic number as early as December or as late as March. 3) Salinity and water levels, found at http://waterdata. no=07387040. Smith uses this site primarily for monitoring salinity, an important issue in an area heavily influenced by fresh river water. Higher salinity levels are the better for speckled trout fishing, with a bottom threshold of 4 parts per thousand. 4) Call 888-701-8992 to reach Dial a Buoy for real-time data (as well as forecasts) on wind speed and direction from a buoy located three miles south of Marsh Island. Winds are often dramatically different over water than what an angler is experiencing at his home on land.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Vermilion chill


A Rapala Skitter Walk is Smith’s topwater of choice.

mith was on the reef just as the sun peeped its bright-yellow head above the eastern horizon. In the winter, temperature is an important consideration for topwater fishing on the reef, he explained. “If it is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, I tend to fish elsewhere early in the morning and then when it warms up come here,” he said. He spudded down his Power-Pole with the boat positioned to allow him to easily cast through “the gut” and beyond the reef. The gut is his term for the slightly deeper water between the shallows shelving out from the bank toward the reef and the shallows around the reef itself. Less than a foot of water covered the top of the reef, and Smith explained that much of the reef is completely exposed on low tides. On the second cast, a modestsized speck popped his surface lure and immediately got hooked. As he

reeled it in, he turned and smirked. “For me, this is what it’s all about,” Smith said. “It’s the art of deception. You are tricking fish into eating a hard piece of plastic. It’s the ultimate in deception — just a floating stick until you do something with it.” The stick that he was talking about was a Rapala Skitter Walk in speckled trout color (SW-8). He added that he will also fish MirrOlure She Dogs and Top Dogs, although the latter are a little big for his taste. Whatever lure he uses will be attached to the leader with a tiny loop knot to allow maximum lure action. His leaders, he explained are always fluorocarbon — not so much because monofilament is more visible but because fluorocarbon is neutrally buoyant and doesn’t affect lure presentation. He starts with 5-foot leaders in 20-pound test and reties often. When the leader gets to 3 feet or


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so long, he discards it and ties on another one. The reel’s main line is 15- to 40-pound-test braided line. The rising sun revealed really poor water clarity — what could, at best, be called dingy. With that and a pretty decent surface chop, it was amazing that he was catching fish, but catching them he was. Every cast produced one or more strikes, and most often a hook-up. He worked the lure in walk-thedog fashion. Walk, walk, walk, stop; walk, walk, walk, stop. The hits usually came on the stop. “I think they find it easier prey when it stops,” Smith said. With the rising sun, another problem popped up — this one pretty serious. Sea gulls — lots and lots of sea gulls — actually royal terns and laughing gulls to be exact. At first, Smith considered them annoying amusement. They would hover over the working lure and peck at it occasionally.


Learn more Capt. Steve Smith shares all his Vermilion Bay secrets (including when and where to fish) in “Trout Masters Too: How the Pros Do It.” The book includes tips for success, maps highlighting where to nail specks and a calendar for the fishing year. “Trout Masters Too,” which totals more than 230 pages packed with information, also includes information from successful trout guides from across the coast. The book retails for $24.99, and can be ordered online at or at Or just scan the QR code with your mobile device. It also is available for the Kindle.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman


Vermilion chill

About Tete Butte Tete Butte Reef is a natural reef comprised almost entirely of oyster shells. Most of the shell is dead, and much of the crest of the reef is made up of broken shell hash. Live oysters do occur on the water bottoms surrounding the reef, however. Few anglers know that the reef is part of a private oyster lease and that the area is subject to disturbance by the leaseholder when he harvests oysters from his lease. This happened a few years ago during a period of peak speckled trout fishing, much to the misinformed indignation of sportsfishermen who had come to consider the prime fishing spot “their own.” Fortunately, though, disturbance by oyster boats is an only occasional occurrence, and speckled trout fishermen usually have to share it only with each other. The reef is shaped vaguely like a tree, with the trunk laid in a north-south direction and the bottom of the trunk on the northern end (about 200 yards from the land bank). The trunk is the highest part of the reef, and often is exposed on low tides. The part of the reef that would be the crown or leafy part of the tree (if the reef really were a tree), widens and splays out broadly. This part of the reef is not as high and is not typically exposed by low tides. The sides of the reef gradually slope into 3 to 5 feet of water. Smith estimates the entire reef is approximately a third of a mile long.

100 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

With very low tides, the entire crest of the “trunk” of Tete Butte reef is exposed.

Smith’s usual fishing strategy is to begin fishing near the base of the trunk and use his trolling motor to fan cast into the shallow waters of the reef and fish outward. He likes to fish the west side of the trunk first and then all over the crown and then the east side of the trunk. When he hits fish, (in his parlance: “When I make contact with them”) he plants his Power-Pole to fish the spot thoroughly, moving again when the fishing action plays out. He admitted that not all of his fishing at the reef is done from his boat. “I get out a lot of times and actually walk on top of the reef to fish,” he said. “It’s very firm and easy to walk. Walking the reef is actually much quieter because there is no wave slap on the boat and no trolling motor noise.” Tete Butte is only one of a number of similar shell reefs located in Gulf of Mexico waters near Marsh Island. Moving eastward from Tete Butte are Pavy Reef, Diamond Reef, Long Reef, Camille Reef and the Shell Keys. Tete Butte is the only one located west of Southwest Pass. The locations of all the reefs are well-known (Smith calls them “community property”) and marked on most fishing maps. Tete Butte also has a small satellite reef located to the west and even nearer the shore than the main reef itself. Its location is marked by bunches of easy-to-spot oyster shells on the bank. This reef often offers excellent topwater fishing as well.

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Vermilion chill

ut he was still catching fish, not as big as he would have liked, but lots of fish. He said one of the reasons he likes to fish, besides getting away from the crowds, is that he feels he has a better chance to catch big specks than on the inside in Vermilion Bay. This and the other outside reefs have given up legitimate 7-pounders to him. But the gulls became bolder, and Smith became more vocal. The birds would pick up the lure in their bills and fly 20 or 30 yards before dropping it, usually out of the strike zone of the fish. “Shoo! Shoo! Scat! Get out of here!” the angler yelled. Between casts, strikes and yelling at the birds, Smith explained his philosophy on lure color. “I think that color makes little difference in topwaters,” he said. “When they are in a feeding mode, they eat. You will never hear me say that I throw only one color. It’s not that I’m not selective; it’s that I believe it really doesn’t matter. “It’s more about presentation than color — and the confidence of the fisherman.” The birds became even more aggressive. And Smith yelled at them more. “Ahh! Did you see that? I had a huge blow-up, and the gull grabbed the bait away from the fish before it could hit it again!” he lamented. The gulls were arousing the competitive nature of an already competitive man. This is a guy who, with partner John Garrison, made up the 2013 Team of the Year in the Louisiana Saltwater Series redfish competition. “I like the competition; I like the fun” he said in the understatement of the decade. Smith likes bigger, faster and longer. Earlier in the morning he palmed his Shimano Curado 200 G7 casting reel. “I souped it up,” he said proudly. “I replaced the stock bearings with ceramic bearings. You know what that’s good for?” “Yeah,” I answered, remembering that he used braided line, “awesome backlashes” “No, no, no,” he belly-laughed, “Ten or 15 more yards (on a cast).” I had to admit, he could cast the Skitter Walk out of sight. But back to the birds. It had gotten beyond annoying and beyond comical. It was ridiculous. The gulls were competing to dive bomb the lure on the water. They were grabbing it out of the air before it could even hit the water. They were trying to grab the plug out of the mouth of the flying flock mate that had it at the moment. “The fish are there,” Smith groused. “I just can’t keep the lure in the water long enough for a fish to get it.” So he pulled up his Power-Pole and moved, but the birds followed. “Let’s go inside and see what we can find,” he said with resignation. When we got to the Cove, 50 boats were stacked there, anchored, trolling and drifting. He turned and leveled his gaze on me. I knew what he was thinking: “We were the only boat on the reef outside.” Jerald Horst is a retired LouisiAnd we had a nice box of ana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, fish. ■ book author and outdoorsman.


Text and Photos

By John Flores

Cold water temperatures can definitely make bass fishing more difficult, but the Blue Bird Canal south of Houma is filled with fish. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one coastal anglerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suggestions on boating a few.

BASS Yule Tide

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 103

Yule Tide BASS

Drive or ride in any bass boat above the Tropic of Cancer late in December, particularly in coastal Louisiana’s semi-tropical region, and there still is a reasonable chance you’ll feel like you’ve gotten frost bite. Riding with Patterson local Gerald Foulcard at an exceedingly high rate of speed along the Intracoastal Waterway, I was certain only the prop of his boat was still in the water. I wondered if my bass-chasing friend was actually taking me fishing or trying to demonstrate he could match Santa Claus when it came to speed, distance and time. Foulcard works for Central Louisiana Electrical Co-op and spends a lot of time 20 feet overhead in a bucket truck. Being a tournament bass angler and member of Bullet Bass Club, he doesn’t have much time to make too many relaxed excursions. He enjoys competing more than relaxing. So you wouldn’t know our trip was supposed to be laid-back from how fast we traveled to our location south of Bayou Black Marina near Houma. Desitnation: the Bluebird Canal. My body’s inner core was about to go into convulsive shivers. And the rush of air beneath my glasses caused my eyes to water up,

104 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

blurring them so badly I didn’t have a clue where we were at first. But this early Christmas present in the form of a winter bass trip was something we’d talked about doing since the summer, when I ran into Foulcard and his wife Angie on the cereal isle in Wal-Mart. Foulcard set the troll motor down and made several casts with a rod he already had rigged, while I fumbled around with numb fingertips trying to rig up a jig so I could punch into some vegetation killed by frost. I was used to cold from the struggles of waterfowl hunting, where wrestling strings of decoys, pushpoling pirogues and the excitement of rushing wings keep you warm for some reason. The thing I learned from Foulcard during our Cajun Christmas expedition was at this time of year bass feel the same way I did — cold. What’s more, it takes a certain skill set to get them to bite consistently.

BELOW: Pipelines are productive winter locations in the marsh. FACING PAGE, INSET: Gerald Foulcard reaches for a bass caught on a spinnerbait with a single Colorado blade. And Foulcard is someone who possesses this particular set of skills. The Bluebird Canal is surrounded by marsh. And this particular region is a place where my bass-angling partner had won his share of tournaments over the years — spring, summer, fall and winter. Foulcard said he had a couple of favorite tactics during when the weather turns cold. “Basically, when the water temperature is a cold 49 degrees in the marsh, what I normally use — most of the time — is a single-blade spinnerbait that can dive a little deeper and can be fished a little slower,” he explained. “My second bait of choice for winter fishing is an 8-inch lizard. “But, you have to let the fish tell you what it wants. It’s trial and error. You have to feel them out.” “Feel,” I thought to myself. I couldn’t feel my fingers, so how was I supposed to feel a fish?


Winter gear and tips to stay warm The average winter temperature range in the bayou state is 64 to 41 degrees during December and 61 to 41 degrees in January. However, Louisiana does have its share of winter fronts that drive temperatures below freezing and allow daytime highs to hover only in the 30 and 40s. So the wind chills can be brutal when fishing early morning hours and running in boats even at moderate speeds. When winter fishing, wear layered clothing as you would when hunting. You can always peel clothing off when the daytime temperatures warm up. Winter fishing gear should include a hoody of some sort, a stocking cap and possibly a face mask to break the wind. Most of a person’s body heat is lost above the neck. By keeping your head warm, it often helps to keep the rest of your body warm. It’s illegal to drink and operate a watercraft and foolish to think alcohol warms you. In fact, it does the opposite. Instead, bring a thermos of your favorite hot beverage to warm your inner core.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 105

Yule Tide BASS


onetheless, when I got my first bite it occurred to me that my fingers had nothing to do with the winter tactics Foulard suggested. “With these two baits I’m trying to establish a pattern to determine if they want a slow-moving spinnerbait or possibly even a crankbait,” Foulcard said. “The plastic lizard is the kind of bait that will aggravate them, particularly as we get closer to spawning time, because Louisiana’s winter bass are looking for a place to spawn. “And though they haven’t committed yet, they’re scoping out a spot. When a lizard gets in the way, that’s a no-no — they want that out of the way.” Biologically a bass gets more active the warmer the water gets, becoming more and more aggressive the closer to and during the spawn in late February, March and April. After the spawn, bass are hungry and want to eat. During the summer dog days, bass slow down and are active during the early morning and last light of evening. The winter doesn’t fit any of these more-aggressive periods, so it is a time when presentation is important. “In the winter, my experience is you have to have a slower presentation, especially when the water is cold — like 49 degrees,” he said. “I look at humans. Humans are pretty lethargic in the wintertime because it’s cold. It’s not comfortable — you’re outside your comfort zone. Foulcard is a year-round tournament bass angler, and winter is one of his favorite times to fish because even though catch numbers are lower the bass he catches are bigger.


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Coastal winter bass-fishing tips

• Fish deeper with spinnerbaits and let them bounce on the bottom once in a while. • Fish a slower presentation. • Fish wide-billed crankbaits that wobble more. • Fish spinnerbaits with Colorado blades that produce more vibration. • Fish every pipeline location in the marsh that you come across.

Wellheads provide structure for bass and targets for anglers.


ut, if you’re inside or the temperature warms up, you’re more apt to want to do things and move around a little bit more and be more active. I sort of relate bass behavior to human behavior.” According to Foulcard, although you might not catch as many fish during the winter, it can be more rewarding than other times of the year. The angler said that, unlike spring and summer when you catch a lot more fish, during the winter what you catch is usually bigger. The angler also said high pressure, bluebird days common as cold fronts push through the area seem to push fish deeper.

But when the barometric pressure falls between these fronts, bass definitely become more active. “I guess it’s easier on their bodies,” Foulcard said. “On cloudy days they seem to move around a lot more. They’re more comfortable on low-pressure days. When you’re comfortable you tend to want to do more things; you feel better.” Another wintertime bait Foulcard suggested is the crankbait — but he said one that has a little more wobble will be more effective. Slower crankbaits provide a slower presentation and give bass something to look at for longer periods of time. Crankbaits like Kevin VanDam-series wide-billed models pro-

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A Texas-rigged 6-inch worm is perfect for enticing bass during winter months. vide increased wobble and more vibration. At midday, Foulcard pointed his boat west, and we headed for “The thinner the bill, the tighter the wobble; the wider the bill, the landing. Our close proximity to the tropic’s northern zenith the wider the wobble,” Foulcard said. “Wider bills like KVDs took away some of the winter John Flores left his westtend to work better in high-pressure situations during winter chill I had experienced that ern digs in New Mexico in months.” morning. 1984. Never looking back, the author spends much of Colors also matter this month, said Foulcard, who sticks with But I was still anxious to his free time writing about white and chartreuse in clear water and often goes with solid recline in my easy chair by the and photographing Louisiana’s natural resources. black when it’s cloudy. fireplace when I got home, The angler also pointed out that Colorado blades provide where I could replay Foulcard’s more vibration than willow-leaf blades. Beefing up the blades early Christmas present. ■ makes a big difference during the winter, when it is a reac2508 Hickory Ave. tion bite Foulcard is soliciting Metairie, LA 70003 more than a strike from a hungry fish. Phone: 504-737-0646 “You want to get that fish’s Fax: 504-737-6964 attention,” Foulcard said. “It may not want to feed. But, because he feels it, it may become a reaction bite. And, because he’s not hungry and sees it, it’s aggravating to him, and he bites it. “He’s not so much trying to eat it.” When winter fishing for Financing bass, Foulcard never passes *WAC up a pipeline or intersection of two ends of a pipeline in a main canal. “You have what I call magnets. You have trees. You have grass. And you have water flow,” he said. “If you have all of those elements you’ll have baitfish around pipelines. You’ll also have crawfish. “So bass will use these areas because it’s easier to get meat when they are sluggish. That’s especially true in the winter because, keep in mind, crawfish season is right around the corner. Crawfish are coming out of Ask about our Free Customer Appreciation the pipeline with the baitfish. Lifetime Service Plan But you have other predator fish like perch that bass will • 72-Volt AC Electric Drivetrain with Dual Motors also eat. All of these are what • Full-time 4WD I call magnets because bass • Four-wheel Independent Suspension will hover around these areas to get a meal.” • 25-inch Aggresive-tread Tires *Cannot Be Combined With Any Other Offer


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2013-14 Rut


December Rut Calendars Bucks throughout the bulk of the state should be in some stage of the rut in December, although those the huge Area 2 will be moving out of the second breeding period just a few days into the moth. Those deer in Area 2 should have begun the second breeding period in mid-November, wrapping up that time of chasing does on or about Dec. 2. Those deer in Areas 4 and 9 (which encompasses the Florida Parishes and Southeast Louisiana) will be finishing up their first round of breeding about the same time. That means they will immediately move into a second round of scraping, with the predicted time frame being Dec. 3-17. By Dec. 18, these deer will be in the second and final breeding season. That means bucks are more likely to

be moving about during daylight hours (assuming the weather cooperates) looking for hot does. Hunters in Areas 1, 5 and 6 (essentially the Tensas delta and the upper Atchafalaya Basin area) should make plans to be in the woods all month, as deer will finally begin rutting activities in earnest. The first scraping period should begin on about Dec. 3 and run through Dec. 17. The end of scraping will usher in the first breeding period on about Dec. 18, and deer will be running around looking for love through the first of January. Hunters in Areas 3, 7, 8 and 10 should be focusing on food sources, as all rutting activities in those areas ended in November.




Areas 4 & 9 THURS












First Breeding Period

Second Scraping Period




















Second Scraping Period

Second Breeding Period 25







112 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Areas 1, 5, & 6

2013-14 Rut


First Scraping Period First Breeding Period

Areas 4 & 9

Second Scraping Period Second Breeding Period




Areas 1, 5 & 6 WED











First Scraping Period 8


















First Scraping Period 22







First Breeding Period 25

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 113















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114 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013












By Dave Moreland

robably the one thing that I have ever written about deer hunting that is worth remembering is this: If you see a deer while hunting and you think you should shoot it, you probably should because in our Louisiana environment the opportunity might not come again. The January 2013 issue of Louisiana Sportsman included my story about a Boone and Crockett buck in Desoto Parish that I had been tracking for three years. In 2010 the buck was a 140-class 10-point, in 2011 it was a 170-class 13-point and in 2012 the buck was a great 160-class 11-pointer. A photograph of the buck before writing last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story was taken on Oct. 23, 2012, as the buck was walking past a feeder in one of the green patches. Little did I know that would be the last photograph of the buck for the year. My closing statement in the article concerning this buck was that if the buck continued to maintain its small home range, it just might be around for the 2013 season.










Deer management is all the rage today, introducing the concept of passing up bucks to allow them to mature. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t.

Booner >

Tracking a

The Rest of the Story

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 115

Tracking a

Booner The Rest of the Story


uring the remainder of the 2012 hunting season, I kept waiting to see the buck at one of the feeders that it often visited, but it never materialized. This year I set cameras out at the two main sites it visited, put out 100 pounds of rice bran at each site and hoped the buck’s photo would be on one of the cards. When I returned four weeks later, there were over 1,000 photos on each camera card. The big 8-pointer I also tracked last year was on the card. The nice young 8-pointer that briefly battled the big 8 was on the card, as were smaller bucks and does and fawns. And, there were three photos of another big 8-point still in velvet (the big 8 and smaller 8 had lost their velvet as of Sept. 1) that bore a striking resemblance to the B&C 11-pointer. On that visit, the feeders were set back up with two more

116 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

cameras, and on my next visit I hopefully will be able to verify for certain if it is the Booner. Look at the photos and decide for yourself. Data from Mississippi State University and Texas A&M Kingsville suggests that by 5 ½ years a buck has basically reached its peak for antler growth. If this buck is 6 or 7 years old, that would easily explain why it is on the decline. So what happened to this great buck last year? Why did it all of a sudden disappear right as the Area 2 rut was cranking up? It had basically kept the same small winter range for the past two years during the rut. Perhaps it went on what biologists call an excursion and found a new niche (home range) for the year. When I first encountered the buck in 2010, it was at least 3 ½ years old based on body and antler mass. It could have been 4 ½ years old, but I am thinking it was only three.

If you recall, Northwest Louisiana was experiencing drought conditions in 2010, and this buck grew an impressive set of antlers — at least 140 inches B&C — despite the poor growing conditions, and would have put a bow hunter in the archery record book. I used this buck in several “shoot, don’t shoot” articles and suggested that gun hunters should pass on it since it would not make any gun records and based on it being a young buck with nice G-2s and G-3s, the buck would be better. The drought continued in 2011, and it was exciting to see that this buck became a true 170-class B&C buck despite poor habitat conditions. This just goes to show how exceptional these once in a lifetime bucks are: The DNA makeup of this buck was such that, despite drought conditions, it had the ability to grow antlers. In fact it increased over 40 inches. In 2012, the buck was only an 11-point but still sported 160-class antlers and was either 5 or 6 years old. As bucks grow older they will fall out of the social hierarchy and become somewhat solitary in behavior. Maybe it found a place that suited him better without the stress of the rut, especially from the interaction and fighting with other bucks such as the big 8. There was no mast crop in 2010 and 2011, but acorns — especially cow oak acorns — were abundant in 2012. White oaks are a preferred food of deer, and with plenty of acorns in the woods there was no need to visit the feeders. Keep in mind that there is no hunting on these 1,200 acres. No hunting and very little disturbance means deer can come eat at a feeder whenever they want, but as the track record shows, they do not. This tells me they prefer acorns over corn. The big 8-pointer was also a mature 5- or 6-year-old buck in 2012, could have run off the bigger buck as it exerted his dominance among the other bucks. Another thought was that the Booner could have been killed by someone hunting on adjacent lands, but to my knowledge no one came forward last year wanting to get it scored for the records. B&C bucks in Desoto Parish are virtually nonexistent in our records and it is hard to believe someone would keep quiet about it — unless it was illegally taken, which was another possibility.

Lessons from the BoonerUp next > FACING PAGE: After seeing these trail camera photos, the author was fairly convinced based on the velvet chronology and other antler characteristics that this nice 8 was his Booner. RIGHT: Look at the stomachs of the deer you kill and you will learn what they are eating, and this should tell you where you should be hunting.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 117

Tracking a

Booner The Rest of the Story Lessons from the Booner Life is about growing and learning, and this buck has given us some good insight into deer movement and management in Louisiana. Hunting in Louisiana, with winter weather that is greatly influenced by the Gulf Coast, can be hit or miss. In 2012, the winter weather was on the very mild side, and deer movement was poor overall and much reduced. When we do get cold fronts, they are often short-lived; therefore it is a must that Louisiana hunters hunt on those days when deer are most likely to be moving. The track record of the 2011 13-point Booner testifies to this. From mid-October through December, a total of 77 camera days, the buck visited feeders 19 times (19/77= 25 percent). So to begin with, the total visits to feeders was a quarter of the hunting days. This should say something to a hunter who spends his entire deer season sitting on a feeder. Of those 19 days when the buck showed up at the feeder, 13 visits at night and six occurred during daylight hours. Now, 6/77 equates to 8 percent of the total hunting days â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not good odds for someone trying to kill it. All of these daytime visits were associated with cold fronts. On one occasion the buck moved the day before the front, another time it moved while the front was passing

through, another time the second day after the front, another time the third day after the front. On two of those six days it moved right at last light. In other words, there was really no distinct pattern other than it moved in response to a cold front, which implies that deer activity will occur at some time during a cold front, so stay with it. This works especially well for us retired folks. Another lesson is for us deer managers. Bucks that show good potential, such as this buck did when it was a 10-pointer, will grow larger as it gets older. Beam length, brow tines, length of G-2s and G-3s are indicators of future growth parameters. I think the G-2 and G-3 lengths are especially important. But there is a limit, and this is when hunters should be ready to squeeze the trigger. 2011 would have been the year to harvest the buck. Antler growth declined in 2012, probably due to the age factor, and it would not score as high as it did the previous year. Unfortunately the buck disappeared in 2012 and gave no harvest opportunity. Passing on the buck in 2011 and hoping it would get better would have been a big mistake, since the buck declined the next year and then disappeared.


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If the 8-pointer in the photos this year is indeed the Booner, it could be 7 years old and on the way down (although it is a great 8-pointer), then for certain 2011 would have been the year to shoot the buck. The pattern of the Booner in 2011 clearly shows that we need to know when the rut occurs and hunt it. The buck followed the typical pattern of bucks during the rut. They feed heavily during the pre-rut (in Area 2 this is September) in preparation for the rut. When the rut approaches the bucks work scrapes, start looking for does in estrus, begin chasing and breeding, and basically disappear from the feeding sites. As the first round of breeding declines, the bucks visit the feeding sites briefly, and then they go into the repeat mode: scrape, chase and breed. When the post-rut begins following this second round of breeding, they go back to the feeding mode, occasionally chasing a doe or two that has a late cycle. When the rut hits, hunting travel corridors between the feeding sites and your permanent stands can spell success. While the verdict is not in as to whether this 8-point buck is the Booner, I feel blessed to have had the three-year encounter with it. Even though the 11-point buck disappeared during the 2012 season following the pre-rut, I was able to track the 8-pointer during the entire 2012-13 deer season. And while this buck is not a Booner, we can learn much from its track record.

Tracking the Big 8 Up next >

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It was obvious that the bucks were feeding very heavily during September on the property in Desoto Parish (Area 2) in preparation of the upcoming rut. In areas having a later rut, October would be the month where buck activity is high at the feeders. It is a well-known fact that bucks feed heavily prior to the breeding season, building up their energy resources that will be used up during the rut while fighting, chasing and breeding. Does that had produced fawns will also be hitting the feeders quite hard to rebuild up the energy they used in raising fawns, as well as in preparation for the next breeding season. Healthy does will be more productive than ones with low body weights. I noticed this year that deer were eating up the rice bran in late August, September and into October. I was trying to bait up hogs but the deer would jump on the rice bran and 100 pounds would be gone in four days. This might have been in response to the very dry conditions we experienced in August and September. With October being the pre-rut month for the hunters in the late breeding areas, hunting a feeder prior to the acorn drop might be the key to success during the bow season. Once the acorns begin falling, however, deer would leave these artificial sites and start hitting Mother Nature’s food. The pre-rut frenzy is an excellent time to set trail cameras up at the feeding sites and survey the deer herd. This camera survey can provide the club or manager with a population estimate prior to deer hunting. The technique for this survey can be found at the QDMA Web site, and there is a book available from the association specifically about using cameras with deer management work. The survey is also a good way to document bucks that are available for harvest, and this can make for good discussion by hunters as to which buck to shoot or not to shoot. Once the rut is over, bucks become sociable again as their testosterone levels drop along with their antlers. Managers can conduct a post-season camera survey and obtain another population estimate; however, these surveys are not set in stone, so don’t be surprised if your post-season estimate turns out higher than your pre-season estimate. — Dave Moreland

There is plenty of feeding going on prior to the rut, as shown by this trail camera photo. 120 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 121

Tracking a

Booner The Rest of the Story

Tracking the Big 8 The big 8-pointer is an impressive buck, and last season it was at least 4 ½ years old. Looking back at the 2011 photos, there was a nice 8-pointer with small brow tines and good G-2s that could very well be this deer. The big 8 this year has somewhat heavier mass than last year, and the tines look longer. Again, research shows that antler mass and size will increase up to a point, and then begin to decline. The 8-pointer will not score great, but it would put a bow hunter in the P&Y Record Book. So it is going to be fun tracking it again this year. Just like the Booner, the big 8 maintained a small home range, just like the two telemetry studies done by LSU/ LDWF demonstrated. The crawfish pond feeder was in the heart of its core area, and it occasionally visited the big white oak feeder site (this is the site that the Booner frequented). Basically, the home range during the winter was less than 300 acres. The fact that these big bucks maintain small home ranges during the rut is good news to small land owners practicing quality deer management. Age is a key ingredient to producing big bucks and, as we have learned from the past, heavy buck-hunting pressure doesn’t let bucks grow older. Just like the Booner in 2011, the big 8 made very few trips to the feeders in 2012. It was photographed at feeders nine times during the prerut in September. From Oct. 1- Jan. 31 — a total of 123 days — the buck made 10 visits to the feeders, of which only five were during legal shooting hours. Harvest opportunity was even less for the big 8 than for the Booner: A hunter had a 4-percent chance (5 out of 123 days) to connect with the buck.


122 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Big 8 – 2012 Feeder Visits


Desoto Parish Tract

1200 Acres

= Feeder Locations Mixed Pine/Hardwood




2 Visits


2 Visits


Mixed Pine/Hardwood


14 Visits



ke La 1 Visit



TOP LEFT: With the rut over, bucks become more sociable and go back to the feeding mode. TOP RIGHT: The big 8-point was a great deer in 2012, and grew a little larger in 2013. It is probably maxed out with antler growth, and this would be the year to harvest it — if this area was hunted.

Missed opportunities Nothing bums me out more than going on a deer or turkey hunt, doing everything right, have the targeted animal come into range and then miss. When the moment of truth comes, it’s You don’t get many chances at a trophy buck or Tom, and not the time to have a shooting problem. it just eats me up on the inside when I mess up because of a shooting problem. Shooting problems should always be corrected before the hunt, but not doing so is a mistake too often made by hunters. The solution to the problem is simple: Shoot, shoot and then shoot some more. Spend time shooting your gun, bow, muzzleloader or crossbow It is also not sound management to pass up older low-end so the only excuse for missing is that you did not want to shoot. bucks because one thinks it is just a young buck that will get Passing up on a young buck with the idea of letting it grow better. I am constantly preaching to clubs to shoot the low-end older has great value. However, many hunters simply are not con- bucks; it will help the management program and provide more fident in field judging bucks as to age and potential B&C score. hunting opportunity. Most clubs and landowners today have management programs Allowing adult bucks that have reached their prime to remain in and utilize a selective-harvest system, especially with the buck the population and keep eating up the habitat that could be utiharvest. Antler restrictions have become the norm. Field judging lized by bucks with greater potential is also a missed opportunity. bucks — other than counting antler points — does require a certain degree of maturity, and many new and young hunters do not have this skill. If your program is based strictly on antler points, I would encourage you to get with a deer biologist and work out a better program based on the growth and development data of your deer herd. When it comes to field judging bucks, there are unfortunately many older hunters who do not have this skill — and really there is no excuse for this. There is so much information out there about judging live bucks in terms of starting at what to look for to help with $ decisions about age, weight and antler size. $ Countless articles are written XD 9mm every year about this subject, $ starting at XDM 9mm so do a little research before $ hunting.

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 123

Tracking a

Booner The Rest of the Story


Big 8 – December 30th Feeder Visits

he season is long, but the harvest opportunity is limited. And, just like with the Booner, the opportunities for success are tied in with the cold fronts. Hunters had zero opportunity in October to harvest this buck. A cold front in mid-November had the big 8 feeding at a feeder on Nov. 15, and then at a different feeder on Nov. 16 during daylight hours. It made another visit during daylight hours to a feeder on Nov. 28 in response to another cold front, and then was photographed passing by a feeder on Dec. 28 — probably in pursuit of one of the last does that was in estrus. The final visit to a feeder was on Jan. 19, the last Saturday of the primitive season, and the time was 12 noon. Now how many hunters in Area 2 were in their stand on the last weekend of the 2012-13 deer season with their muzzleloader? Not too many — most had put their guns away and were finishing up with the last football games. To top it off, the buck was at a feeder it had never before visited. So much for trying to outsmart these critters. While the big 8-pointer did not disappear like the Booner, the track record of it during the 2012-13 season was pretty much a flat line. As soon as the acorns started falling and the rut kicked in, visits to the feeders dropped big time: three daylight visits in November, none in December and one during daylight in January. As I said, there was a very good white oak acorn and red oak crop in the woods, so deer really did not need to eat corn because there was plenty of food being provided by Mother Nature.

Desoto Parish Tract

1 Mixed Pine/Hardwood

1200 Acres

= Feeder Locations



5:15 AM


5:56 PM



Mixed Pine Hardwood 4:00 AM



ke La


BOTTOM: This graph of the big 8-pointer’s feeder visits clearly shows the impact of the 2012 mast crop and the extremely mild winter. With plenty of acorns in the woods and warm temperatures, feeder visits pretty much flat-lined. BELOW: When the weather does get right it is time to hunt, even on the last day of the gun season.




Oct. 15


4 2 F

2nd Rut

Dec. 13


x 2 x x x x






LQ N FQ December

1st Rut


LQ N FQ September


LQ N October

F = Full Moon LQ = Last Quarter N = New Moon FQ = First Quarter

124 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Nov. 12 Nov. 13

2012-13 Track Record Of Big 8

LQ N November




2 F



LQ N January


X = Known Area 2 Breeding Dates For 2012: Oct. 24, 31 – Nov. 5, 9, 10, 18

1 F LQ February

Take-home message

Hunting between feeders and stands might provide better harvest opportunity.

The lessons from the track record of these bucks can be summed up as follows: 1) Hunt the foods deer are eating — When acorns are available, leave the feeders and hunt the mast crop. 2) Hunt the rut, the entire rut. 3) Hunt the travel corridors between the feeding sites that bucks are using to find does. 4) Hunt the cold fronts that come into the state, from the time they approach until it starts warming up — you never know what day the deer will decide to move. 5) Don’t waste your time when the weather conditions are not conducive for deer movement — It is a long deer season, but the days deer will actually be active are limited. 6) Pass on the young bucks that have good potential to let them get another year older. 7) If you like what you see, put your tag on it — Who knows when that chance will come again. — Dave Moreland

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 125

Tracking a


Just like the Booner, the big 8 kept a small range — less than 300 acres during the 2012 rut.

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Booner The Rest of the Story

unters probably get tired of hearing it, but when there are acorns in the woods, deer are going to be eating them and the strategy should change from hunting feeders to hunting the native food. Add to this the very mild 2012 winter, and the need to feed was not too strong. The idea of hunting between the permanent stands and feeders — hunting the travel corridors — is evident by the movement of the big 8 on Dec. 30. The buck was at the crawfish pond feeder at 4 a.m., at the big white oak tree feeder at 5:15 a.m. and at the lake feeder at 5:56 p.m. It was not feeding, just looking — probably for the last remaining does that might be in estrus. While most of the does are bred during the first breeding period, buck activity and movement can be really good during the second breeding period as bucks compete for those last remaining does in heat. I always try to save one tag for the late rutting period just for this reason. So, the bottom line is the rest of the story might not be the rest of the story. Good news for us guys who make our living writing stories! ■ David Moreland is a former wildlife biologist with LDWF, having served as the State Deer Biologist for 13 years and as Chief of the Wildlife Division for three years. He and his wife Prudy live in Baton Rouge and own property in East Feliciana Parish.

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DEEP Dularge in

Cold fronts should keep water temperatures in the cellar this month, but that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean Dularge trout wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t bite. You just have to know where to go and how to fish. Text and Photos

By Rusty Tardo


December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 131

Deep in Dularge

“Most of the world is covered by water.

A fisherman’s job is simple:

Pick out the best parts.” — Charles Waterman

Picking out the best parts of water to fish is harder than it sounds, particularly here in Southeast Louisiana where every body of water along our coast teems with nature’s bounty. But it’s a challenge we anglers relish, and in December you’d be hard pressed to find a starting spot any better than Dularge. I’ve made several trips in the area over the past couple years and always found it productive. This most recent trip was no exception. Capt. Gerald Ellender (985-688-1715) agreed to guide me and buddy Kevin Bergeron into the heart of Dularge’s speckled bounty to see if we could find something to take home in the ice chest. After a short ride through Houma and then down La. 315 to Dularge, Bergeron and I drove over the levee and met Capt. Ellender at his boat dock.

Capt. Gerald Ellender holds two examples of the quality speckled trout anglers who fish Dularge should expect to bring home.

132 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Daylight was just breaking as we loaded our gear into his 24-foot Champion Bay Boat and a brand-new 300-horsepower Yamaha pushed us down Bayou Dularge toward our destination. “Most of our action is going to be found in three or four main areas this month,” Ellender said. “If we have a cold month, then the fish will move up into the deeper canals and bayous. But even on those days they’ll fan out over shallower flats when the sum warms things up. “On moderate days and mild days, we’ll fish the oyster reefs in some of the bigger bodies of water: Lake Mechant, Sister Lake, Lake DeCade and Moncleuse Bay — anywhere you see the oyster reefs marked by those white PVC poles.” The strategy is pretty straightforward.



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Deep in Dularge

You might catch a few small throwback trout fishing under the birds, but you can also find some bigger fish.

“You can drift in there or use your trolling motor and cast plastics under a cork, and when you catch a keeper fish, anchor the boat with a Power-Pole or Cajun anchor. Or I’ll just push the anchor button on my trolling motor, and it’ll hold the boat right there in that position,” Ellender said, pointing to the Minn Kota i-Pilot trolling motor The motor looked odd up there, and the fact that it has no control handle and no foot pedal meant it was entirely remote controlled. This was my first experience seeing the new trolling motor technology in actual use, and I was eager to see how it’d perform. The i-Pilot has a built-in GPS, so when you press the anchor button the motor will automatically hold your boat in that GPS position until you release it. “Another great advantage of the remote-controlled trolling motor is that I don’t have to be up on the bow of the boat in the premier casting position to steer the trolling motor,” Ellender said. “I can steer from the back and allow my customers to stand up front and fish off the bow.” Motorguide has its own wireless remote version — the Xi5/Pinpoint system. Ellender said where to fish wasn’t a big secret. “So we’ll fish the oyster reefs, and we’ll fish the canals and bayous, and another thing we’ll do this month is fish the birds,” he said. “The birds are still very active, just as they’ve been in late October and November, and they’ll be out in force this month as well.

“Naturally you may have to weed through some throwbacks, which is typical anytime you fish under the birds, but you’ll also catch a lot of keepers.” As we made our way toward our first stop, we passed a couple of nice-sized flocks of birds diving and feeding actively in Lake Mechant. I could see a hint of hesitation in Ellender’s eyes as he motored past the first flock of birds, and the temptation to stop and fish under the second flock was just too hard to resist. “Let’s give this a try for just a few minutes,” he said. “I want to see what’s under them.” Ellender circled wide of the flock to get upcurrent and let the boat drift toward the frenzied birds. Once within casting distance of the action, we tossed soft plastics under a cork and fish — small throwback trout — inhaled them. After five minutes and only one keeper, Ellender was ready to go. “If the birds are still working in here on the way back in we’ll give them another try,” he said. “Some of the flocks are over bigger fish. Don’t give up on fishing the birds just because you find small fish or sail cats under a flock. That’s going to happen. “But you’ll also find some schools of good fish under the birds, and you can put 20 or 30 fish in the box in just a few minutes. Or you might even limit out right there under one flock of birds. It happens.” Ellender’s plan was to show us some of Dularge’s premier spots for December fishing, for both trout and reds, and I was an eager student.

Up next Lake De Cade 134 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 135

Deep in Dularge

Lake De Cade


Lake De Cade

“Lake De Cade will be red hot this month,” Ellender said. “From Dularge, it’s a six-mile run, so if you plan to fish it you should launch at the Falgout Canal Marina, which is much closer. The lake is big, and averages between 3 to 5 feet of water, so it’s safe to run in. The deeper channel is in the middle, about 5 feet deep, and that’s where the fish will huddle in colder weather.” But there is a sweet spot. “The best-known hotspot in Lake De Cade is the southeast cove near the sunken tug boat around Christmas Tree Point,” Ellender said. “Contrary winds can make that spot unfishable, and when that happens then you’ll want to fish along the north and western banks and look for bait activity and birds. “There are some washouts along those banks that will hold fish, and soft plastics under a cork will produce some great catches.” But there are other options. “Another great colder-weather spot this month is the dead-end canals off the Falgout Canal right by Lake De Cade,” he said. “We like to say they get hotter as the weather gets colder. What happens is the fish will travel up into the marsh as far as they can go, and often when they get in those dead-end canals — that’s as far as they can go. “So they stay and huddle up in there, and when you find them you can sometimes really load up Up next your ice chest with nice fish, bothRaccourci trout andBay reds.”> 136 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Dularge is about a 1 ½-hour drive from downtown New Orleans. Follow U.S. Highway 90 toward Houma, and take the first Houma exit (Highway 182). Follow Highway 182 all the way through Houma and past the Civic Center. When Highway 182 turns right (just past the Civic Center), stay straight and go over the high-rise bridge, and take a right at the base of the bridge. Turn left on Highway 315 (Bayou Dularge Road) and follow it until it ends at the levee and Jugs Marina. Maps/charts Standard Aerial Map No. 316 of Cocodrie; No. 320 of Bayou Dularge & Lake Decade, Standard No. 21b of Four League Bay, Standard No. 14 Marinas Jugs Marina (985-876-1413) at the end of Highway 315 has a double ramp, ice, bait and fuel. Falgout Canal Marina (985-872-1636) is six miles up the road, and is also a full-service marina. Guides/accommodations Several excellent guides operate out of Dularge, and many of them offer overnight accommodations. Check the ads in this issue or with the marinas for recommendations.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 137

Deep in Dularge

Raccourci Bay

Where Raccourci Bayou meets Raccourci Bay and Lake Mechant are of perennial hotspots for trout.

Ellender said there are a couple of prime fishing spots in Raccourci Bay: The mouth of Raccourci Bayou at Raccourci Bay and the mouth of the bayou on the opposite end at Lake Mechant. “Those areas will be loaded with trout, and since Raccourci Bayou is one of the main tributaries into Lake Mechant, it also holds plenty redfish and flounder,” he said. “You often see birds working at these spots because a lot of bait passes through this bayou. There is a deep channel — between 15 to 25 feet deep in the middle — so what you want to do is anchor in the shallow water on the edge off the points and throw your bait back into the deeper water. “I like to use swim baits like the Tsunamis or double rigs, and you can fish under a cork or use live baits on a Carolina rig here for flounder and reds, as well.” Water movement is a requirement, he said. “It’s an excellent spot, especially on a falling tide,” Ellender said. “Any current will produce, but I prefer a falling tide in the winter months.” Ellender said his favorite tactic is to throw his bait upcurrent and let it go to the bottom, and then just slowly let it hop along the bottom or roll back toward him with the current. “The reds and flounder will pick it up and run with it,” he said.

Deer Bayou

The options along Deer Bayou are numerous because of the dozens of drains, tributaries and ponds. 138 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Ellender said the entire length of Deer Bayou will hold fish when temperatures drop. “It can be quite a maze up in there of canals, (as well as) ponds and channels,” Ellender said. “The main bayou is pretty deep in the middle, so it attracts trout, reds and flounder because a lot of water and bait passes through it. There are dozens of drains and tributaries and ponds to fish, and keep an eye open for birds because they work all along Deer Bayou, also. “Look for signs of bait in the water, or current lines around a point — anything that shows movement in a potential spot.” Soft plastics tight-lined and under corks and Tsunami swim baits are good baits here, Ellender said.

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1. Stop! “Remember: In these cooler months when you’re drifting and casting, you want to stop when you catch one or two keepers or you’re likely to pass up the fish,” Capt. Gerald Ellender said. “If you catch a couple fish in a particular spot, they’re usually there for a reason. Maybe there’s a trench on the bottom or some feature holding bait there and therefore holding fish, so you need a means to be able to stop your boat as quickly and as silently as possible. Power-Poles, Cajun anchors, a stick anchor or an i-Pilot — anything to stop you right there. And when the bite stops, move on. Resume your drift or go back and redrift the same area again. 2. Downsize your baits. “During December and throughout the colder months, fish will be feeding on small baits, such as glass minnows, etc.” Ellender said. “Use lighter leader line — nothing over 30-pound test — and get away from the big 3- and 4-inch plastics and downsize to 2-inch soft plastics: beetles, minnows or swim baits, or the small (original size) Vudu shrimp, which has been very effective. Use a good, firm 1/16-ounce shortshank hook on your plastics, and use whatever color you prefer but be sure to have some in chartreuse.”


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There are some hog redfish, like this 45-pounder, in the Lost Lake, and they will slurp up chartreuse-colored soft plastic baits. FACING PAGE, BOTTOM: According to Ellender, fish will be feeding on small baits throughout the colder months. That’s why he chooses to downsize to 2-inch soft plastics in December. 3. Do the time. “All the advice and tips and gear and gadgets are still no substitute for actually spending time on the water and being observant.” Ellender said. “There are times when your proven hotspot won’t produce. What then? You do the time, look around, explore, use your common sense, put into practice what you already know. Look closely at those points and cuts. Look for bait or water current. Look for slicks. Look for birds. Do the time.” 4. Go fishing. “Keep in mind: When the cold fronts blow in and shut down the trout action, you can still catch redfish in the canals and bayous,” Ellender said. “Slow down your presentation and retrieve, and when you think you’re reeling in slow enough, slow down even more.”

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This is another bayou the length of which holds fish in December and January. “It has everything from deep channels to washouts to shell banks and deep turns — all the features that attract and hold fish,” Ellender said. “Look for birds, look for good water movement around points and in turns where you see shells on the bank, look for current lines and look for any signs of bait in the water. “The bayou itself is deep — 8 to 10 feet in places — and a lot of current moves through it. I fish the dead-ends off it; I like to drift or troll until I hit some fish, and then I’ll anchor and stay as long as I’m catching keeper fish.” Rusty Tardo grew up in St. Ellender moved us around quite a bit that morning, Bernard fishing the waters and we caught fish every place we stopped. We caught of Delacroix, Hopedale and Shell Beach. He and fish under the birds and by drifting, and the hot bait of his wife, Diane, have been the day was a small glow/red tail Vudu shrimp fished married over 40 years and about 2 feet under a cork tossed by my buddy, Kevin live in Kenner. Bergeron. ■ Capt. Gerald Ellender can be reached at 985-688-1715.

Bonus feature for Terrebonne Parish anglers If you get stuck or stranded or have some other on-the-water emergency, the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office has a water patrol department with its own fleet of boats. 142 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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Making ’em move You and your buds can sit in tree stands and wait on deer to stumble by, or you can take the initiative and up your odds. Here’s how. Text and Photos

By Humberto Fontova


ou want cold for deer-hunting and wind for duck-hunting!” Artie growled. “All da rest is a buncha snake-oil and hocuspocus by outdoor writers to sell a buncha stupid, worthless trinkets!” Artie was in one of his moods. But he had a point (weatherwise, anyway.) And since the thermometer read 65 degrees at 7 p.m. on this December evening some spirits weren’t exactly soaring at Da Deer Camp when contemplating the morning hunt. Not that the gabby and jovial gentlemen crowding around the Bourré table seemed the least bit discomfited by the weather forecast — nor the ones arguing the relative merits of andouille vs. tasso as a flavoring agent around the gumbo pot in the kitchen — much less the ones on the porch spraying spittle with neck and forehead veins pulsing while slamming their fists into their palms. These latter were “calmly discussing” — what else — Les Miles as football coach. In brief, 80 percent of the camp members seemed fine for the weekend. But the other 20 or so percent suffered from a rare affliction at Louisiana deer hunting camps. Specialists in this peculiar malady have diagnosed and defined it as “actual interest in hunting deer.” December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 145

Making ’em move

Sure, when deer are rutting and it’s super cold, they’ll move. What’s a Louisiana hunter to do the other 70 percent of their hunts?


brief, most of us have, at most, a couple of days a week to hunt. So what are the chances that it’ll be super-cold for our deer hunts and super-windy for our duck hunts? Pretty slim actually. But when the dates and weather fall right they create hunting memories for a lifetime of highly animated BS sessions at camps. But usually the après hunt commentary is more along the lines of: “Dey ain’t moving — too hot!” “Dey ain’t moving — full moon!” “Dey ain’t moving — too much huntin pressure!” Dey ain’t moving — rut ain’t started yet!” Fine — but whatever happened to making dem move? Sounds crazy, but that was the normal way to hunt deer for many (perhaps most) of our fathers and grandfathers. The notion of sitting in a tree or box stand waiting for one to

haphazardly bumble along just seemed outrageously nonproductive, if not downright insane. Dogs and drives were — by far — the preferred method of deer hunting. Dogs in Dixie and man drives in the Midwest and North. Given the passions already unleashed while “discussing” Les Miles, many of us weren’t in any mood to discuss the former method of deer hunting (i.e., dogs). So for this visit we’ll stick to the latter: man-drives. It used to be a deer magazine cliché, especially for hunting public land: “Let the crowds push deer to you!” headlined a couple of articles every month, in every magazine. And the cliché has a certain merit. Problem is, in most public areas there’s simply no way to do an “end-run” around the crowds and position yourself in a remote area as a “stander” rather than in a crowded area as a “driver.” In our experience, Pearl River WMA provided an exception to this rule. Because of boat access this “end-run” proved eminently possible.

Look at a map of Pearl River WMA and note how the roads and trails are concentrated in the very north and northeast sections. Look just southeast of this area and you’ll find English Bayou running parallel to the East Pearl River for a mile or so before joining it. Note the cul-de sac this junction forms. The Thanksgiving either-sex weekend crowds tend to concentrate in the northnortheast section of the WMA, and this orange invasion tends to push many deer and pigs down into the English Bayou area, especially funneling them into the cull-de sac. Consequently, the hunting in this area (in our experience, at least) gets better as the season progresses and the pressure in northern sections pushes down the game. Coming up the East Pearl by boat to English Bayou accomplishes that allimportant “end-run” positioning. On our lease, however, one-man “drives” through the thickets, with another one (or maybe two) hunters as standers have paid off. This doesn’t mean (at least in our experience) that a “man-driven” deer will calmly traipse across a food plot or power line in broad daylight. Instead, our “standers” sit up in their climbers on those heavily used trails we always find leading into or between thickets. You know the ones — those track-churned trails in fairly good cover where you excitedly set up a climber but for some reason (weather? late rut?) never saw the stampede of deer that the sign seemed to signal. In fact, you saw nothing! Well, sometimes a hunter (completely covered in orange, needless to add) s-lo-w-l-y walking and stopping in a zigzag pattern through the thicket and upwind of the stander will “drive” a deer through those trails during actual daylight.

> 146

Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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Making ’em move

> Last year we had a chance to give this ploy a new twist. “Bet it was that bunch from the neighboring club!” Eddie snarled, discussing a burned area we’d discovered on the far end of our lease. As usual, Eddie was trying to upstage Artie, who frowned while reluctantly ceding his place at the camp pulpit (just below the TV megascreen) after bellowing his famous axiom on hunting weather and the Mr. Haney-like attributes of outdoor writers. “I was talking to one a dem at the WagA-Sack the other day during a beer run,” Eddie continued. “We started talking about the coyote problem. How they cleaned out all the rabbits we used to have in this area. He said he was a bigtime rabbit hunter from St. Bernard (‘where things ain’t hard’). He started laughing, talking about how they used to set the marsh on fire right off Bayou La Loutre around Stump Lagoon to open up the place for rabbit hunting — then how they burned it farther out around Bay Eloi and even on Mud Grass Island to attract geese! It’s GOTTA be dat bunch who set the fire to the old clear-cut! They started it on their lease then it burned over to ours! Too bad our game cams in that area got burned up too. They probably had a buncha pics of them in the act! We’d have ‘em red-handed!” Most of us blamed the fire on lightning. A big pine showed the marks of a lightning strike. But Eddie’s version was definitely more fun, especially on his third brewskie. Naturally the burned area (only about five acres) was crisscrossed with deer trails. But then so were our food plots. “Big deal!” Pelayo shrugged. “It’s all nighttime movement!” He and Spencer determined this after setting up climbers on opposite ends and maintaining a vigil for two mornings and 148 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

evenings each — and during fairly cold weather. Indeed, a burned clear cut in the piney woods attracts deer almost like a pea or rye patch. And for the same reasons — nourishment. The burning generates new growth by clearing out the leaf and pine needle litter on the ground. It also clears out undesirable brush plants and grasses (broomsedge, wire grasses and blue stems) and replaces them with plants like beggar weeds, poke salad, greenbriar, blackberry and privet that deer prefer. Burning turns the leaf litter into nutrientrich ash in seconds. Then the rain washes it into the soil, where it stimulates the growth of nitrogen producing plants and those more desirable for game. It doesn’t take deer long to zero in on the tender shoots that start sprouting after a burn. But when are they here? Same as in our food plots — mostly at night.

TOP: Trophies like this don’t usually leave Louisiana’s thick pine thickets during daylight. A little coaxing helps. ABOVE: To many Louisiana deer hunters, they’re ALL trophies. Family, friends and camp-outs provide much of the deer-hunting fun.

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But this “burn” presented an intriguing setting. To wit: What burned was a thicket consisting of part of a 5-yearold select cut, either “bedding area” or “travel-corridor” for our deer — or so we had determined. Several trails ran through it, but hunting within it was impossible. You couldn’t see 10 feet through the brambles of greenbriar, blackberry, privet, etc. But AH! Now the trails clearly showed the same churning with tracks — but we could see for about 80 yards all around them because of the burn. As mentioned, this wasn’t a food plot or power line that they usually crossed or entered mostly at night; this was a travel corridor they (probably) traversed a bit during actual daytime (dawn and dusk, probably.) In brief, in our experience deer tend to use the same trails over the years, even over the generations. What changes with hunting pressure is the time they use them: from daylight to night as the season progresses. It’s gotten to the point that whenever I’m scouting and find good trails — or even better, good trail intersections — even if it’s an area I know I’m hunting exclusively, I immediately start scanning nearby trees for the telltale remnants of old wooden tree



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Making ’em move Burns — controlled or natural — yield naturally fertilized food plots for deer to snack on.

> stands from the era when “open land” was the norm. And 90 percent of the time, I find them, even if they’re just a couple of boards hanging from a branch juncture. Which tells me that deer have been using the trails I hunt today since before the Causeway was built — at least. Since Pelayo had just lost our bet on the Saints-Cowboys game (he bet on the Cowboys) he was tasked with “driving,” while Eddie and I perched in our climbers on the corners of the burn.

“How long can it possibly take to walk across that thicket?” I was grumbling by 8:45 — when I caught movement to my left! I focused — and saw a strange shape that hadn’t been there before. I’d been scanning this place for going on three hours. I had the contours memorized. Now something was different. The sun was already high, the morning cloud cover had gone — so I caught the gleam of an antler! Now the shakes started big time. But my rifle was across my lap. The little buck (looked ideal for fajitas and venison Blanchard’s Parmesan!) was rock still Come See Us — as was I. He moved back at Our New into the thicket so I s-l-o-w-ly Location! of Louisiana started bringing the gun up. With my elbows on my lap, I NEWEST & LARGES T finally steadied the scope. SELECTION IN A 4-point at least — maybe Load Trail 30’ “Low Pro” Equipment Trailer LOUISIANA a 6. “Deep breath now,” I advised myself — just as the deer started walking, following Call Us Today... the edge of the burn. I was a For Unbelievably Low basket case. Then he stopped — and Prices on New Cargo, looked straight at me from a Utility & Dump Trailers distance of maybe 80 yards. A Pintle or Gooseneck 24k GVWR classic standoff. A second ago ASK US ABOUT: I described him as “a shape 5006 Hwy 311, Houma, LA 70360 • 985-868-8800 Daily, Weekly & Monthly Rentals that hadn’t been there lier,” and he probably thought the same about me, 23 feet into this black gum and with very little leaf and branch cover around me. “Good heavens!” I said to Our Customers Are The Coolest® myself. “He ain’t gonna stand NO HUNTIN’ OR FISHIN' CAMP there forever!” SHOULD BE WITHOUT ONE!! The crosshairs steadied on the juncture of his neck and MANUFACTU • Perfect for your Home, Camp or Commercial Use shoulder. I started squeezing DISCOUNTSR..ER’S • 3-year parts-and-labor coverage included on all ice . B IG …. S A VINGS ON A machines, dispensers, and storage bin components L L IC E M PE-TOW! A C HINES!! • Installation Service Available He collapsed and started • Several Size and Options to Choose From kicking — kicking — kicking. • “Purchase from the Company Who Services Them.” Leaves and mud going everywhere. Call 325 LBS ICE MAKER “Will he get back up? Did I Today for w/ 290lbs Storage Bin Ice Cube 314 S. Hollywood Rd., Houma, LA on just stun him?” I wondered ti la Machines al st In ID0302A/B400 888-656-2823 • 985-868-8945 while shakily cranking in another round. Then I



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focused through the scope and saw his tail give those last few shakes and quivers. Nope. No need for another shot. Amigos, is there a more glorious feeling afield! Pelayo and Eddie waited all of 60 seconds after the shot before texting me. The mud in bottoms captures every deer track and keeps them fresh looking for days. Most deer don’t actually travel in the bottom itself. It’s just that the relatively few times they do they leave such pretty tracks. Most deer trails run parallel to the bottom but halfway up the ridge from it. Also, the few white oaks that grow in this type of timber are usually on the ridges. And we all know about white oak acorns. Tracks don’t show up Humberto Fontova is the so nicely on these leaf-carpeted ridges, but if you look closely author of four books and you’ll usually find browsing sign and droppings in a semblance a frequent commentator on national media. For of a pattern along a semblance of a trail. more details visit www. Hunting up here gets you away from the crowds and on the better traveled deer trails. Oh, and Pelayo nailed one the following week, a nice 5-point. But he shot it over a rye and clover food plot. That doesn’t count. ■











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Reading The Rubs Rubs are the first form of true buck sign to appear and many hunters consider them the most important. It used to be thought bucks rubbed trees to rid themselves of velvet and to strengthen neck muscles for breeding battles. Bucks may do some “recreational” rubbing but this activity’s more important focus is sign posting.The buck’s forehead contains subcutaneous glands that leave his personal signature on rubbed trees. What the buck is doing is posting his core area, general territory and travel corridors with his unique odor. A buck’s rubs are mostly intended for other bucks but does will also investigate them. The size of the rub is of limited value in determining his size. Small bucks seldom rub large trees, but bigger bucks will rub anything. Don’t be fooled by a big rub on a really large tree. These are usually found where the territories of two or three bucks overlap and every buck in the area will drop by and rub. - See more at: hunting/articles-and-how-to/ reading-rubs.


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 151

Jerald Horst


Yes, we have no bananas today A look at the lowly ladyfish “Y es, We Have No bananas Today” is the nonsensical title of a novelty song composed by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn for Broadway in 1923. Like the song, the little fish that Louisiana coastal anglers call “banana fish” is self-contradictory. It aggressively attacks natural and artificial baits, especially shiny, artificial lures. Then it fights wildly, putting on a great aerial show. Most anglers who hook them can’t help but be impressed by their game qualities, while at the same time feeling unfulfilled by their catch. They are slimy and hard to hold for unhooking, bleed copiously from any nick and are utterly worthless on the dinner table. They don’t even have a good reputation as cut bait. The fish, known to scientists as Elops saurus, bears the more-proper common name of ladyfish, as well as another nickname — “tenpounder,” used elsewhere, but not in Louisiana. Of course, the latter nom de guerre is self-contradictory as well. It never, ever reaches 10 pounds. The world IGFA world record is an even 8 pounds and was taken in Brazil in 2006. Louisiana’s record fish of 4.64 pounds was taken the same year by Jim Sisco in Lake Pontchartrain. Its scientific name is interesting. “Elops” translates from Greek as some kind of serpent and “saurus,” which is Greek as well, means lizard. So the name translates as “serpent lizard,” a fairly accurate description, as the fish does have a certain reptilian look. That look gives away its status on the Jerald Horst is a retired fish family tree. Ladyfish are a primitive Louisiana State University species, barely more advanced on the professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book evolutionary scale than garfish (which are author and outdoorsman. older than dirt) and beneath eels. Seven species are in its family, only two of which occur in North America: our guy and a Pacific Ocean version called a

ABOVE: The scientific name for ladyfish translates into “serpent reptile,” and they do resemble a reptile — particularly in the head. RIGHT: A fighting ladyfish bears an uncanny resemblance to a tarpon.

152 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

“machete” that, come to think about it, would be a descriptive name for our ladyfish, as well. The closest relative to ladyfish found in our waters is the tarpon. At first glance, they seem to bear little resemblance to each other, but a fast camera that can freeze a ladyfish in mid-jump will reveal a remarkable resemblance between the fighting behavior of the two species. Ladyfish and tarpon share two other characteristics that show their close relationship. One is a gular plate, a flat, boney plate located between the lower jaws of each fish. The other is less noticeable to the average angler unless he or she hits the surf with a small-mesh seine. Right after hatching, both species (and bonefish, as well) have what are called leptocephalic larvae. These have ribbon-like bodies, very flattened from side-to-side, long fangs in small heads, tiny fins, and they are completely colorless and transparent. They also lack gills and red blood cells. Oddly, in spite of the fangs, newly hatched larvae don’t feed with their mouths, but rather absorb nutrients and oxygen directly from the water. As the larvae develop, they begin to feed on microscopic animals (zooplank-

ton) and then insects, and small fish and grass shrimp. Interestingly, scientists have never been able to identify ladyfish eggs, so exactly where they spawn is still a mystery. Ladyfish larvae and juveniles are common in estuarine waters, including beaches. Their leptocephalus larvae can be nearly 2 inches long, and in another peculiarity to the species the larvae shrink in length as they grow older and develop into juvenile ladyfish. Ladyfish have been collected from waters almost completely fresh, although they are much more common in brackish and saline waters. After two or three years, they leave estuarine waters to move offshore, where they are thought to spawn. Adults can be found in waters as deep as 160 feet. Maximum life span for the species is six years. Like tarpon, ladyfish are fairly tolerant of low oxygen conditions, although unlike tarpon they cannot “breathe” by taking in air directly from above the water’s surface. Ladyfish are sensitive to cold water temperatures, and are seldom found in waters below 52 degrees Fahrenheit. In Florida, they have been killed in numbers in stiff cold snaps. Ladyfish have a mouth full of small but sharp teeth, and are strict carnivores. They feed on a variety of species, including menhaden, silversides (glass shiners), mullet and even their own kind. Crustaceans, especially shrimp, are also taken. Food items, whether fish or shrimp are swallowed whole. A 1958 study done in Lake Pontchartrain showed 82 percent of their diet was fish and another 10 percent was shrimp and crabs. ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 153

Capt. Paul Titus


Get to know your GPS unit Your unit has a lot to offer W

One of the basic functions of each GPS unit allows anglers set how the map is configured: course up (as shown), north up or track up.

e are experiencing a revolution in navigation that began with the advent of the Global Positioning System communally referred to simply as GPS. This technology stands with the invention of the compass and the sextant in importance to the navigator. As with the sextant and compass, an understanding of how they work and how to use them is a must. My previous months’ columns described some of the main settings with which user should be familiar in order to get the most out of their GPS units. I hope you now have a better appreciation of how the GPS works and how the settings you choose affect the use of the unit. My explanations of the available settings were in no way complete; they only covered the main configuration settings. In most GPS units, each of the screens has a sub menu that allows a configuration of that screen. This might not be on some of the “entry level” GPS units, as it is a way of keeping costs for these units down. But, for the most part, most of the different screens have configuration settings for that screen. For instance, the menu configuration when on the “MAP” screen allows the user to display the map in several ways. Choices usually include viewing the displayed maps in a “north up,” a “course up” and “track up” view. You can lock in a certain zoom range, and other settings allow you to show — or not show — your tracks, waypoints and routes.

154 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

What to use? There is, of course, no right or wrong answer as how to set your view of the internal maps: It is your choice. You should use whatever display you are most familiar with. But remember that you have the choice. Another option is your choice of the icon used to indicate a waypoint position. In viewing the menu for that subject, you will find a great variety of images to indicate the position. They range from a simple “x” or circle to an image of a fish, a fuel pump, an anchor, a triangle or square, and many, many others.

In addition, those who have color units, can usually select different colors for the icons and names, as well as the size of the waypoint name. The same also applies to your routes and tracks. Think how convenient it would be to have your waypoints, tracks and routes all in different colors. You could use one color for summertime fishing and another for winter fishing, etc. In addition, each screen usually can be configured to show some of the numerous data the unit is constantly figuring and compiling. These data values include heading, course, speed, estimated time of arrival, time of the day, water temperature if so equipped, distance to next point, altitude and many more. Part of the existing screen is allocated to display data boxes that contain the data you wish to see. You can usually choose between one data box, three, or nine boxes. It sounds neat, but remember that each box takes away from the major screen. I usually use three boxes: speed, course and distance to next point. But, here again, you have a choice. And one of the biggest features of most modern units is that they can communicate with other units and with a computer. This means maps and all of your precious data, waypoints, tracks and routes can be backed up to a file or disk in your computer. This data can then, of course, be edited if necessary and installed back in your GPS unit. This electronic data transfer is the basis of my “Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge of GPS Waypoints.”


This feature allows the transfer of over 500 waypoints in less than one minute. If you are not using the electronic data transfer feature, you are really not getting all benefits the unit has to offer. This —in addition to an onboard instant real-time connection to a VHF radio, radar, engine gauges, depth finders and even an auto-pilot — offers an untold coordination of the vessel’s navigation chores.

Get to know your GPS

In my seminars, I tell attendees to purchase a spare power cable for their unit. This allows you to power up the unit in your home either from a battery or from a 120vAc to 12Vdc converter. Using that setup allows you to experiment and make configuration changes from the recliner at your home and not while underway on a fishing trip. It lets you see many of the features in your GPS that would otherwise go unnoticed. Remember, the more you Capt. Paul Titus has been use your GPS the more you responding to GPS questions will be able to use it. Get to on since 2000. He has been fishing know the unit. ■ and hunting in Louisiana since 1957. Titus holds a USCG license and conducts instruction courses in the use of GPS for private individuals and government agencies.

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Catch Cormier


The best of 2013

I hate lists so much that I made my own A

ABOVE: One of our 2013 picks, Rise Green Series rods are priced at $100 and offer a lifetime warranty.

A finalist for Best Event of 2013 is September’s Rio Grande Fly Fishing Rodeo, which drew more than 50 participants.

s each year comes to an end, we are bombarded with lists of everything imaginable. For example, “Top 10 Movies,” “Top 50 Celebrities,” “Best Dressed,” “Worst Dressed,” “Best Cross-Dressed.” Some aren’t so good, like “Top 10 Alien Encounters” or “Worst Animal Attacks.” I’d hate to be No. 1 on either list. Some are just plain wrong, like “Best 10 Politicians in Washington.” The words “best” and “politician” should never be used in the same sentence. Most lists are often the opinion of one person. For example, Forbes Magazine’s “Top 10 Fly Fishing States” by their feature writer Monte Burke: Louisiana did not make the list. Normally that would get my goat. But I understand poor Mr. Burke suffered a terrible childhood — he grew up in Alabama. Well, as my mom used to say, if you don’t like a list, make your own (that’s off the top 10 things my mom

156 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

used to say). So here’s my “Best of 2013:” Best Overall Fly Rod — The Winston Boron III, Sage One, Scott Radian, Orvis Helios 2 and Hardy Sintrix all sell for about $800. Who would pay that much for a fishing rod? I’ll answer with a question — who would pay $60,000 for an automobile? What you get for that money is technology so advanced that NASA wants it. They are ALL great rods, but the Hardy Sintrix wins by a tip top. This rod does everything but cast itself. Best Value Fly Rod — In the under $250 range, there are many excellent choices from TFO, Echo, Redington, Orvis and St Croix. All their models come with warranties. Break one for any reason, send the rod back with $25 to $35 to cover shipping, and they send you a repair or replacement. For 2013, the TFO Mangrove took the saltwater world by storm. Right at $250, it was designed by Flip Pallot for quick loading and accuracy, two features kayak anglers demand most. Best Budget Fly Rod — There are some very good rods for $125 or less. The all-graphite Cabelas 3-Forks and Bass Pro Dogwood Canyon — each retailing for $59 — make you wonder why anyone would ever buy one of those cheaply-made fiberglass rods sold at department stores. The Redington Pursuit and the Rise Green Series tie for the nod for 2013. Both offer a moderate-fast action and good performance for just at $100. And with a warranty included, it’s a solid investment. Best Fly Reel — For salt water, a machined, anodized, large-arbor reel with disc drag is best. With a little care, it will last a lifetime. For freshwater applications, a die cast reel with disc drag will suffice. For saltwater uses, the Orvis Access, TFO HSR, Allen Alpha II, and Cabelas RLS are all great values for the money. But Allen wins out because it comes

in “Ragin Cajun Red.” The Orvis Encounter gets our pick for best freshwater reel. Best Fly Line — The best type of line for most Louisiana waters is a weight-forward floating line. For saltwater fishing or bass, where big flies are cast, a stiff core is desired. Lines from Rio, Cabelas, Orvis all are recommended. This year’s winner is the Teeny Bream and Bass Line. For freshwater use, it’s an excellent casting line and comes in at only $30. Best Web site — In fairness, I have to keep my own site ( out of contention. No problem — there’s several wonderful homegrown sites and club-based sites dedicated to our sport. Luke McCoy’s has emerged in the past year as one of the premier fly tying sites, and for that reason, receives this honor. Best Blog — Fishing blogs are stories that are fun to read. Several in-state bloggers are among my favorites: “LA Fly Guy,” “Kayak Fishing with Kevin,” “Mountains to Marsh,” “El Camino Blues” and “Cajun Fly Fisher,” to name a few. It might not have awesome photos or videos, but Roger Stouff ’s “Native Waters” is truly fine reading. Stouff, a Native American from Franklin who has authored several fiction and non-fiction books is a gifted writer and deserving of this honor. Best Event — Several state clubs conduct conclaves — oneday events featuring seminars, fly tying demos, casting instruction, vendors and much more. The New Orleans Fly Fishers also held their annual “Rio Grande Fly Fishing Rodeo” in September.




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Catch Cormier

FLY LINES >>> continued

Tippets Persistent, strong winds have plagued fly casters this fall. Here’s hoping December brings calm to the marsh. If it does, sight-casting opportunities for the Spottail Elvis should be prime. On days following a cold front, look for exposed backs and tails on tidal flats. With shrimp no longer the main course, it’s a good time to try crab and baitfish patterns such as Borski Slider, Merkin Crab, Whitlock Baitfish and Seaducer. Patterns in darker colors — like a black Charlie, purple Haley’s Comet, or rootbeer Spoonfly — work well on both clear and overcast days. Hot topwater action for speckled trout continues this month. Early mornings or overcast days are best. Try a Foil Pencil Popper, Skipping Bug, or Bob’s Banger. If poppers don’t work, go with a 1/50-ounce (eyes) black/chartreuse or LSU (purple/gold) clouser off the bottom. Sac-a-lait come on strong this month. Fluff butts, size 6 clousers, lead-eye woolybuggers, and Crappie Candies in blue/white, pink/white and black/chartreuse will work. In reservoirs in the northern and central parishes, fish will often suspend along creek beds at 8 to 10 feet. No need for a sinking line — just tie weighted flies on a long finesse leader to get it to the proper depth. Later this month, Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation will once again stock a few of its ponds with rainbow trout. This coldwater species loves flies, especially black or olive woolybuggers. The same tackle you use for bream can be used for “rainbeauxs”. Be aware that the limit is four per day and is strictly enforced.

This had to be a tie. The Cane Country Fly Casters held their first-ever “Natchitoches Fishing Expo,” and it was a great success with about 2,000 attendees. The North Louisiana Fly Fishers held “A Day With Davy Wotton” in August, featuring the world’s foremost expert on wet flies. It, too, was a great success. Best Fly Tier — Many nationally recognized tiers call Louisiana home. Folks such as Kirk Dietrich, Fred Hannie, Marc Pinsel, Dirk Burton, Ron Braud and Stephen Robert, to name a few. Jerome and Dena Hebert of Youngsville had the honor of being featured at the Federation of Fly Fishers International Expo in West Yellowstone back in September. They are worthy of Best of 2013. Best Fly Fishing State — This state’s scenic lakes, rivers and backwaters hold fly-loving bass and bream, and it’s marshes are thick with hard-fighting Glen ‘Catch’ Cormier reds and specks. The offshore has pursued fish on the fly fishing is world-class. fly for 30 years. A certified casting instructor and And it’s home to the greatest renowned fly tier, he and his outdoors magazine and fly family live in Baton Rouge. fishing column. Yes, Mr. Burke: It’s Louisiana! ■ 158 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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Have you killed a deer yet?

Earlier rut should have hunters hopping N

ABOVE: Deer already were tearing the woods up in October when the author visited a DeSoto Parish tract.

ovember should have been the hot month for Area 2 hunters; for us hunters with a late rut the best is yet to come. Because of the time demands in the magazine world, I am writing this column at the end of October. The bow season has been open for almost a month, and the Area 2 muzzleloader season began on the 19th and the regular gun season begins on Oct. 26. Our muzzleloader and gun season in Area 4 opens in mid November.

The prediction of an earlier rut seems to be coming to pass, and that means bucks in the late-rut areas of the state should be on the move. So, since you are reading this in December the answer to the question for many of you should be “yes.” And if it is “yes” I hope you reported the kill to LDWF (it is required for you to do this). I visited Desoto Parish on Oct. 21 to check feeders and cameras on my relative’s property and to see what the pesky beavers were up to. From what I 160 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

saw in the woods, the rut was beginning, and when the regular gun season opened the chasing and breeding should have started. I saw fresh scrapes and rubs everywhere. These were not the scrapes that bucks make and forget about; these were serious pawings in the dirt on the woods trails and along the field edges that occur during the peak scraping period. Camera photos showed the feeding frenzy that was taking place during the prerut by the bucks had ended, basically as of early October. This would explain the occurrence of all the scrapes. Bucks were beginning to mark the ground in hopes of finding the does that might be beginning to have their estrus cycle. In addition to the rut, acorns were beginning to fall. And, as we all know, bucks prefer acorns over corn. I had three really good adult bucks on the cameras and several more nice 8-points during the prerut feeding period, but the feeder visits by these bucks from Oct. 2-21 were pretty much a zero. The rut appears to be early, as was predicted in the rut report published in the September issue of Louisiana Sportsman. If the weather cooperated with a few cold fronts, November should have indeed been a hot month for deer hunters in Area 2, and hunters should have meat in the freezer. The northwest piney woods parishes lead the state in deer harvest. I really do not get too excited about the October bow season. The weather is still warm — and it was warm this year and our does were still nursing fawns. In fact, most of the fawns I saw in East Feliciana Parish on my hunts were still well spotted. I am not going to shoot a doe that is nursing a fawn, and there is no way to know if the doe is. I have been watching a doe and a fawn that come every day to a feeding site. Sometimes the doe will come and feed and will then be joined by the fawn; sometimes

the fawn comes first and the doe follows later. The best management is to let the does alone and wait until the fawns are weaned before shooting them. LDWF has reduced the either-sex days because of low fawn recruitment and lower deer numbers, and it does not make sense to kill a doe that is raising a fawn. The adult bucks that come to the feed sites come at night and don’t show up in the daylight. I have had a few young bucks come in and feed, but they are not on my target list. Because of the early breeding in Area 2, most of the fawns on Oct. 1 have lost their spots and are pretty much weaned. It is entirely different in the late-rut areas of the state. This is the reason we have different seasons and not one season for the entire state. I will have a chance to hunt in early November with my friends Larry Savage in Union Parish and Ken Mason in Bossier Parish, and with our gun season opening in mid-November I would think I could answer “yes” to my question. Heck, there is still another week of October left for me to connect with my crossbow should we get a good cold front that gets bucks moving. My friend McElroy and I made a trip to Pearl River WMA following the cold front that moved into the state on the squirrel opener in October. It was a perfect day, and I had my eight squirrels in an hour. First time to do that since Hurricane Katrina.

continues >>>



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GRUNTS & GOBBLES >>> continued

From what I saw regarding deer and hog sign, we will be returning to the Katrina Woods. I found plenty of deer browsing sign throughout the area I hunted, and the cow oaks have a good crop of acorns — and this should be a key to success when the deer season opens. If the rut is on schedule for Area 2 as predicted, the forecast for Areas 1, 4, 6 and 9 should follow suit. Again, the prediction is for an earlier rut than normal — as much as two weeks — so check the hunting season dates and make plans. Hunt preparation is a must for success; when the season opens time should be spent hunting and not trying to finish getting things ready. Rifles should be sighted in, deer stands in place and secure, boats running properly and all the accessories that go with a day in the field should be in the pack. Of utmost importance is safety. Hunters can get lax concerning matters of safety, and that is when we become vulnerable to accidents. On our hunt at Pearl River I was deep in the swamp and discovered I had not charged my cell phone. We need to always be prepared and always check our gear before hitting the woods. Good communication is a must. Make sure family and friends know where you are going and where you will be. As the Duck Commander often tells his grandkids: Be ready should things go south. When I called my friend Ken in Bossier Parish to find out if he had killed a deer on opening day of the muzzleloader season, he told me that instead of hunting he had been at the funeral of a friend who had been hurt when he fell out of his deer stand and later died of complications from the fall. His friend

was a veteran of the deer woods and a skilled bow Dave Moreland is the author hunter; he had just of the new book Louisiana shot at a buck and Whitetails, which explains how to grow big deer and where to was getting down hunt them. when he fell off his The book is available at www. lock-on stand. The and limb that the safety at rope was attached to broke, and he hit the ground on his back. He was able to call on his phone for help, and was taken to the hospital. He was released after a few days and, while at home, fell and died on the way back to the hospital. He loved hunting, but more than that he loved his family and friends. It is a must that we all be safe, not just for ourselves, but for the loved ones waiting for us at home. Accidents are going to happen, but with frequent checks and double checks, we hopefully can eliminate most of them. There is much more to life than being able to say, “Yes, I have killed a deer.” Keep the right perspecDavid Moreland is a tive: Hunting is recreation, former wildlife biologist and recreation is all about with LDWF, having served as the State Deer Biologist recreating yourself. for 13 years and as Chief of the Wildlife Division for Enjoy your time in the three years. He and his wife December deer woods. I am! ■ Prudy live in Baton Rouge and own property in East Feliciana Parish.




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Don Shoopman


The Vortex Shad

Incredible tail action can’t be beat A

ABOVE: The Vortex Shad is the latest offering by the folks who created the Matrix Shad, which has become a popular lure in Louisiana marshes.

The Vortex Shad comes in dual color with a big V-shaped tail that wobbles, driving fish crazy.

veteran saltwater fishing guide who says he fishes with soft plastics 99 percent of the year always reaches for a bag of soft plastics he has the utmost confidence in when he’s out on the water. For the past year or so, that has meant putting on a Matrix Shad and now the Vortex Shad, both made by Dockside Bait & Tackle in Slidell under the direction of marina owner/artificial lure manufacturer Chas Champagne of Eden Isles. “Nothing can touch the Matrix Shad,” said Capt. Marty LaCoste, owner of Absolute Fishing Charters out of Dularge. “The reason he came out with the Vortex was so he could put two colors on it.” The Vortex Shad has won LaCoste over by putting beau coup speckled trout and redfish in the boat. “The tail action’s incredible,” LaCoste said. “You can’t beat that action. It definitely gave us what we needed, you know, to catch trout on that, too. We’ve been fishing it under a cork, and it’s been tearing it up. “The pinkish color — trout are loving that one. It’s the best bait I’ve ever used, hands down. Nothing else compares. It’s catching all across the state, not just one area.”

166 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Also, the majority of redfish he and his anglers have been catching this fall and early winter have been on black/chartreuse Vortex Shad, he said. A black/chartreuse Vortex Shad was producing its share of speckled trout for this writer in midOctober in the Trash Pile area in Weeks Bay near Cypremort Point. “I’ve never fished another bait where you can fish with the hook both ways and catch fish,” Lacoste said. “To me, that’s a plus.” Champagne said he has been keeping the Vortex Shad rigged up lately. “All we’re doing is fishing a Vortex Shad under a popping cork,” he said one October afternoon after putting his boat on the boat trailer following a fishing trip around Irish Bayou on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. He caught seven speckled trout, the same number of redfish and a bass while fishing with a Vortex Shad on an 1/8-ounce Golden Eye Jighead under a H&H popping cork. Understandably, Champagne has been pleased with the early returns on the Vortex Shad. “We just launched this. They (anglers) all like it,” Champagne said. “I just want to get it out there. This is the elite series, where the Matrix Shad will be the original.” Starting this past January, amidst the success of the Matrix Shad, anglers asked him to produce a soft plastic with a segmented tail. Champagne took heed and started working on it right away. “The Matrix Shad, the original lure, is one color,” he said. “The Vortex Shad — every one we make will have a different-colored tail.” Why? Champagne knows anglers are “in love” with green tails or blue tails or red tails. The Vortex Shad, he said, simply “meets everybody’s needs on what they’re used to fishing with. Like you said, you like black/chartreuse. We use a lot of fluorescent colors over here.”

And he changed the design of the tail for the Vortex Shad. “I thought we did such a good job the way the Matrix Shad ran that I didn’t want to change it. But I changed the tail up a little bit; I wanted to keep it as a paddle tail,” he said, noting his intention was to make it a V and a little bigger, thus giving it a more pronounced wobble. “It’s got a V-shaped tail,” Champagne said. “The tail’s a little bigger so it wobbles in the water. And you can see the notch in the tail … gives you a little more wiggle.” The 30-year-old outdoorsmen also pointed out another feature that isn’t on the Matrix Shad: There’s a small dorsal fin on the top side where, if you insert the hook properly, the point “pops out right in front. That way it’s hooked correctly.” Vortex Shad’s current color combinations are nightreuse (chartreuse with an opening night tail), spartacus (black/ chartreuse) and kamikaze (opening night with a chartreuse tail). There will be more color combinations in the future. “We’ll probably do two colors every April until we get to 10,” he said. Lacoste said toughness and durability is another plus for the Vortex Shad. “I was pulling on one today just to see how strong it was,” he said. “It takes a lot to pull it off.” For more information on Vortex Shad and other Dockside Bait & Tackle products, call 985-707-2105 or go to ■ Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

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Allan Tarvid


Software updates

How to get a next-generation unit free B

ABOVE: The old days of having to buy new units to take advantage of new functionality are long gone, since modern electronics are fully upgradable.

Some units can be connected to a manufacturer’s website via a computer to have upgrades automatically installed.

rand-new, highly desirable sonar and GPS features are announced at least once each product year by the makers of marine and outdoor electronics. Years ago, when such improvements made your current electronics obsolete, the only way to update your dinosaurs was to buy new, cutting-edge models. And, if you had the misfortune to buy a unit with a software bug, the only solution available to manufacturers was a factory recall. The first official software updates available to boaters required sending your unit back to its manufacturer and paying a modest fee. It was better than having to buy a new unit, but it was still a pain. Those days are mostly behind us thanks to several major marine electronics manufacturers who offer free software upgrades for many of their products. Owners can download and install them right from company websites.

168 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

The importance and value of these updates can’t be overstated. When Humminbird introduced Down Imaging (the ability to see straight down under your boat with the picture-like detail of the company’s Side Imaging technology) owners of Side Imaging units got the new feature free of charge with a software download. No new transducer or other hardware was required; the Side Imaging beams already overlapped to cover the area below the boat, and all that was needed was software to interpret and manage that coverage. You can usually see a list of a new software version’s improvements on the manufacturer’s website. I recently updated an older Lowrance HDS Sonar/ GPS unit, and the site showed that the version 4.1 software included sonar performance enhancements like better tracking at high speed, better deepwater tracking and shortened lock-on time for trolling motor-mounted transducers. On the charting side, quick-access mapping selection (the ability to toggle back and forth between Lowrance and Navionics mapping) is now provided, and users can also display points of interest supplied by the Navionics User Community. Fixes in the update included accurate distance measurement between your moving boat and an active screen cursor, a correct altitude overlay for altitudes greater than 9,999 feet and EP-60R fuel flow sensor corrections. Downloading a software update is easy but not always completely automatic. I downloaded the aforementioned Lowrance update directly to an MMC card, put the card in the unit and then powered the unit up. HDS units check for new software updates as they boot up and automatically install them. This time the unit powered up, but didn’t recognize the update. When all else fails, read the directions, right? The downloading instructions said to unzip


the .zip file and copy ONLY three of the four existing files to the card, and then insert the card in the unit. I started over and downloaded the zip-compressed update to my computer’s desktop, unzipped it and copied the correct three files to the card. I put the card into the unit, powered it up and a screen message showed that the update had been found and, in less than a minute, installed. After the installation, another screen message told me to remove the card and press the power key once to reboot the system. The update was in place and, sure enough, the sonar picture looked better at speed and while fishing on my next trip to the lake. The world of software updates doesn’t end with sonar and GPS units. Garmin now includes free mapping updates for life with some of its nuvi® automotive navigation models, and you can buy a lifetime subscription for many new and older models that didn’t come with one. If you run a navigation unit in your tow vehicle, you probably know how quickly mapping information runs out of date. Each year, speed limits change, bypasses are built around towns and cities, new roads and streets appear and existing two-way streets become one-way and vice-versa. The millions of points of interest covered by these units are also in a constant state of flux. Having free mapping updates for life means you can download a new map set as often as twice each year, and that is probably slightly more often than they become available. These updates are about as simple to install as updates get. You connect your nuvi to your computer with a USB cord that comes in the box with the unit. On-screen instructions lead you through contacting the Garmin site and downloading the necessary map management software to your computer. This software checks the nuvi’s current mapping software’s version number and leads you through the updating process if a newer version is available. My older nuvi model doesn’t have enough storage space to hold a complete update, so the program told me I could either install a memory card to hold the rest of it or it would guide me through selecting the complete mapping data for only the three-quarters or so of the country where I expected to be driving. Not all new capabilities can be added with a software update. Marine electronics makers are adding advanced networking abilities that sometimes require pre-installed factory hardware. If, for example, you want to run a new factory-optional radar scanner on your Humminbird or Lowrance unit, that unit must already have Ethernet capability built in. Lesser network types simply can’t carry a sufficient amount of data fast enough to support real-time radar sweeps. The Bottom Line: Go to the website of the company that manufactured your units, visit its support or customer service section, and look for available software updates. If you don’t find any, call the customer service phone number and ask if the company offers them. Allan Tarvid has been If they are available, make writing about recreational sure your units have the latest and commercial marine electronics since the versions installed — it’s like 1970s covering everything getting next-generation elecfrom running lights to tronics for free. ■ computer integrated vessel management systems.


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LAKE CHARLES 337-436-4366 December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 169

Gordon Hutchinson


Ruger’s 1911

New, functional and beautiful I

ABOVE: The Browning 1911 .45 ACP remains one of the most-popular shooting platforms on the market. RIGHT: Ruger offers two 1911 versions with many features that once were only available in custom guns.

t has been noted that what you get today for a reasonable price in a 1911 pistol would have cost you a lot extra just a few years ago. John M. Browning’s design was a solid, dependable fighting pistol that worked flawlessly in conditions that would cause competitive designs to choke and malfunction. The 1911 .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) was the designated carry sidearm of the U.S. military from its acceptance in the second decade of the 20th century until its replacement in the 1980s with a different design and smaller caliber in the size of 9mm. And today, many elite fighting units and law enforcement units have returned to Browning’s creation and the horsepower of the .45 ACP, sacrificing cartridge capacity for more stopping power and the incredibly natural “feel” of the Browning design. But to make the Browning design an exceptionally accurate gun required the work of a talented gunsmith that specialized in the 1911, turning what was a standard warhorse of a fighting pistol into a sleek thoroughbred competition gun. It would become a gun that shot incredibly tight groups and afforded increased speed in aiming, reloading and “pointability.” Custom features such as enlarged magazine wells, enlarged ejection ports, large and improved target sights, tighter fits between the slide and frame, enlarged thumb safeties, extended “beavertail” grip safeties to enhance grip, and dozens of other enhancements would take a run-of-the-mill shooter and turn it into a tight, fast-shooting comp gun. And these would add up to $1,000 to the original cost of the gun.

170 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

But with the advent of computer-controlled machining, the industry was able to make tighter tolerances much less expensively, and companies found the American handgunner wanted his 1911 — and he wanted all the bells and whistles found on the earlier competition guns.

Nowadays, most companies have a plethora of standard features that enhance the shooting capabilities of both the gun and its owner, and the gun costs much less than custom guns with the same features did a decade ago. Ruger Firearms ( introduced their first version in 2011 at the National Rifle Association Convention in Pittsburgh, Pa. With a recommended MSRP of $829, this Ruger would have easily cost $1,000 more back when its features were considered custom. Deemed the SR1911, these all-stainless, beadblasted guns offered classic Browning design with

a 5-inch barrel that was CNC-machined for a precise slide-to-frame fit. As with all Ruger firearms, the company likes to point out they are all American-made. The stainless steel barrel and bushing are produced simultaneously from the same ordnance-grade barstock for a precise fit and improved accuracy. The slide features rear cocking serrations, a dove-tailed Novak rear sight, an extended thumb safety and an extended beavertail grip safety. The firing system is the older, morepopular and original “Series 70” design with a titanium firing pin and heavy firing pin spring, which negates the need for a firing pin block without compromising trigger pull weight. Ruger has added an inspection port that allows visual confirmation of a loaded chamber. The SR1911 also features custom touches, such as an aluminum skeletonized trigger and adjustable over-travel stop. It also has a skeletonized hammer, a handsome custom touch to an already exceedingly handsome pistol. The grips are hardwood grip panels, attractively checkered and carrying the Ruger logo on each. Each gun is shipped with one seven-round and one eight-round stainless steel magazine, bushing wrench and a soft case. The design fits standard, currently available holsters. I received two SR1911 models — the original design introduced in 2011, and the new Commander-size introduced in 2013 — for testing from the Ruger distributor. The Commander carries the same features as the original design, but with a 4.25-inch barrel for more discreet carry — my favorite size in the 1911.


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 171

Gordon Hutchinson


>>> continued

Like many handgunners, I have a weakness for Browning’s design, but my favorite has always been the Commander for ease of carry and concealability. You just can’t find a concealable handgun with more authority than a .45 ACP Commander. I’ve owned a couple of 1911s, and both were the smaller Commander models. I didn’t have a large selection of ammo, but I did have a large quantity of what is considered the standard load — 230-grain ball, full metal jacket. A test with my Lyman trigger strain gauge showed the fullsize version trigger to break at just a couple of ounces over 5 pounds. The Commander size broke about 3 ounces heavier than the larger gun, but seemed a tiny bit smoother in travel. Both shot exceedingly well in my tests over sandbags at 10 yards — but the surprise was the Commander — which consistently shot tighter than its larger brother. The best group of the day was turned in by the Commander, with five shots just under 1.5 inches — but four of the shots made one oversized hole that made it hard to tell four bullets had passed through it. One flyer extended the group size. The full-sized gun consistently turned in slightly under 2-inch groups with five shots, and once gave me a group nearly approximating the Commander’s. But overall the Commander shot slightly tighter off the sandbags — perhaps easily attributed to an affinity for that particular brand of ammo. The distributor had dressed the full-sized version in a set of American Elk antler grips with a similarity to ivory — glowing

with a gorgeous patina. Eagle Grips ( is one of the premier custom handgun grip companies in the country, offering a huge selection of grips custom made in their own factory here in the U.S. Their warranties and guarantees on their products have earned them an enviable reputation in the gun industry. These elk grips are featured on the home page of their Web site. There were no surprises when I started my speed and tactical shooting. Both guns performed flawlessly, and I ran about 100 rounds through each of them without a single malfunction. I shot double and triple taps at 7 yards, and the large Novak sights allowed for quick, positive target acquisition. Both guns were a pleasure to point and shoot, and I could easily be tempted to add the SR1911CMD to my personal battery. In fact, the only change I could even begin to contemplate would be lightening the trigger to about 2.5 pounds. Ruger has a couple of real winners here — handsome, utilitarian guns with features that would have added much to the bottom line years ago, and now only add a custom look, feel and quality to the shooting experience without the custom price. ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 173

Jerald & Glenda Horst


A culinary gem in Simmesport art of the fun of our job, if you want to call what P we do a job, is staying off the interstates and traveling the smaller roads into Louisiana’s hidden

Jamie and Brandy Truman are making their mark on the Family Grill’s menu.

nooks in our never-ending quest for the best seafood. We find awesome dishes and meet the nicest people in the most unexpected places. In the heyday of Louisiana’s huge freshwater commercial fishery, Simmesport and Jonesville were well-known in both North and South Louisiana.

Jerald and Glenda Horst are the authors of six excellent books on Louisiana seafood — The Seafood Bible: Shrimp, The Seafood Bible: Crawfish, The Seafood Bible: Crabs, The Seafood Bible: Oysters, The Seafood Bible: Fish: Volumn I and The Seafood Bible: Fish: Volumn 2.

174 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Located on Louisiana Highway 1 about halfway between Grand Isle on one end and Shreveport (really Rodessa, but few people have heard of it) on the other, the sleepy little town of Simmesport still has a lot of commercial fishing activity, even though tens of thousands of pounds of fish no longer leave the town daily by rail car. Three fish buyers are located there, and it seems that every second house in town has a welded aluminum fishing bateau parked in the yard. Maybe that heritage accounts for the good food we found at the Family Grill. Of course, it might just be the loving care that the Rusk family provides for the 64-seat restaurant. The Family Grill was founded by Truman and Marguerite Rusk 14 years ago. Truman was a commercial catfish, buffalo and gaspergou fisherman for 40 years, and for much of that time Marguerite was his helper on the boat. Ten years ago, their son Jamie and his wife Brandy bought the restaurant and, although Brandy has been busy putting her mark on it, Marguerite and Truman come in every day to help. Brandy is from nearby Moreauville, 10 miles up the highway from Simmesport. And she loves to cook. “My mom (Darlene Bonnette) made me cook,” Brandy said. “She owned the Kountry Kitchen Diner in Moreauville. I cooked at home and at the restaurant. I always had an interest in cooking.” Cooking seems to run in the family. Not only did her mother own a restaurant, but her brother Trent currently owns the Brown Bag Gourmet in

Catfish Jamie Marksville, which Brandy described as serving “more upscale, fancier dishes.” Both of Brandy’s children — son Carter and daughter Saydie — spend a lot of time in the restaurant. “She is the next generation of cook,” is how Brandy described her daughter. “Now she waits tables, washes dishes and works the register.” Jamie is also proud of his daughter’s abilities, and said that Saydie cooks a lot at home. “She takes all day with it (cooking), but she does it right,” he said. “She learned that from her mother.” Jamie’s work as a general contractor leaves him little time at the restaurant and even less time on the water. But, commercial fishing is in his blood. “I love to do it,” he said, “but you can’t make a living at it. If there was money in it, I’d do it my entire life. My grandfather (Truman’s father), John Rusk Jr. owned a fish market on the river, and my dad fished most of his life. Although a trip to Simmesport is worth it just to eat at the restaurant, a visit should include a stop at the massive Old River Control Structure. The huge complex, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, keeps the lower Mississippi River from abandoning its bed and shifting its flow down the Atchafalaya River, stranding Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Just don’t plan the trip on a Sunday, because the Family Grill is closed. It is open for lunch on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and lunch and supper on Friday and Saturday. ■


Catfish Jamie is the grill’s signature dish. As its name gives away, it is served with fried catfish, although it will work with almost any fish. This recipe is really about the sauce, so we are going to assume you can fry fish and concentrate on the sauce. We asked Brandy where the recipe came from. She smirked, brown eyes twinkling. “From my head,” she said. “I was searching for a topping to put over a special dish. I started with onions — everything starts with onions. I added ingredients and I subtracted ingredients.” “She tried it on 10 or 12 people here,” interjected Jamie. Brandy laughed and pointed at her husband. “I named it after him to be funny — to pick on him,” she said. “And it stuck. I make a large pot of it, put it in cups and refrigerate it for use in the restaurant. It goes in two or three days. This recipe makes a large quantity. The sauce is good on grilled or pan-seared fish, as well as fried fish. It is excellent over steaks, and is served over cheese-stuffed potatoes in the restaurant as a “Shrimp Stuffed Potato.” Note that if shrimp stock is not available, chicken stock may be substituted.

INGREDIENTS: 6 cups chopped onions 3 cups chopped bell peppers 3/4 cup butter 8 green onions, diced 1 can Rotel tomatoes 3/4 cup flour 2 cups sliced mushrooms 1 tsp. salt 2 tsp. black pepper 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 4 tsp. paprika 2 cans cream of mushroom soup 3 cups shrimp stock 1 lb. Velveeta, cut into small cubes 1 pt. half & half 5 lb. shrimp tails, peeled

PREPARATION: Sauté the onions and bell peppers in butter until the onions are clear. Add the green onions and Rotel tomatoes and cook for two minutes. Stir in flour and mix well (consistency should be thick). Add sliced mushrooms and simmer for three minutes. Sprinkle in salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika. Add cream of mushroom soup and stir thoroughly. Add shrimp stock. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add Velveeta and stir until melted. Stir in Half & Half. The sauce should look creamy. Add shrimp, and stir well until all the shrimp have been mixed into the sauce. When shrimp are pink, the sauce is ready to ladle over fish fillets. Serves 15-20.


December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 175

Jerald & Glenda Horst

THE SEAFOOD BIBLE >>> continued

Cajun Seafood Salad


8 cups water 3 tbsp. Zaunbrecher’s Seafood Boil 1 ½ lb. peeled shrimp, 30-40 count 4 lemons, halved 2 lb. catfish fillets Season-All Pepper Garlic powder 4 tbsp. butter 4 small heads of Romaine hearts 4 tomatoes, cubed 8 oz. crabmeat 1 pt. bottled ranch dressing ½ cup Sriracha 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce 8 fried wontons, cut into strips Grated Parmesan cheese

This recipe has been rotated off the menu for now, but its picture is on the grill’s wall — so it can be special ordered. Brandy noted that the recipe came from her desire to serve a salad that can be eaten as a meal. This one absolutely fills that bill. Two people can eat off of one plate. She calls the dressing for the salad “spicy ranch” and cautions, “You gotta love spicy!” With our South Louisiana taste buds, we actually found it perfect. Brandy and Jamie are huge boosters for Zaunbrecher’s Seafood Boil seasoning. Brandy called it “very important,” and Jamie said you can “make bad crawfish good with it.” The seafood boil can be ordered directly from its creator Byron Zaunbrecher (337-207-4961) or purchased at Billy-Ray’s stores in Opelousas and Duson, or from his sister’s business, Zaunbrecher’s Boiling Hut in Eunice. We did find it to have a totally unique taste, with noticeably less salt than many boils have and (a huge surprise to us) a lot of sugar in it. Zaunbrecher, who caters seafood boils (and farms rice and soybeans), said he developed it after he found that boiled seafood often became too salty after being held several hours after cooking. Note that the dressing recipe makes a large quantity, but leftovers may be reserved for future use.

PREPARATION: Combine the water and seasoning in a pot, and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Remove from water and set aside. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan, add the fish fillets and squeeze the lemon juice over them. Sprinkle them with Season-All, pepper and garlic powder and pan-sear until the flesh is white. Carefully turn the fish, season the other side and finish cooking them. Remove from the pan and set aside. Cut the Romaine hearts in half lengthways. Core the stem from the bottom and discard. Place one head of lettuce on each platter, cut side up and cut crossways into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle the tomato cubes evenly over the lettuce. Place 8 ounces of fish on the lettuce in each platter. Add 6 ounces shrimp over the lettuce and place 2 ounces crabmeat in center of each salad. Whisk the ranch dressing, Sriracha and sweet chili together to make the dressing. Spoon the dressing over the salad, then sprinkle the fried wontons and grated Parmesan cheese on top. Serves 4 as a dinner salad. 176 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 177

Chris Holmes


Kayak Christmas

Tell Santa to bring on the goods I

ABOVE: Kayak fishing is a minimalist’s dream, but some luxuries can make the experience much more enjoyable.

Catching a fish is made easier with the right equipment onboard.

f it were up to kayakers, Santa would definitely make his rounds in a ’yak. After all, a “Cajun sleigh ride” (being towed around by a large fish) is one of the most sought-after thrills by kayak fishermen. Christmas is also a great time to put those musthave kayak fishing items on your holiday wish list. Though often touted as a minimalist sport, there are many items that can make your kayak fishing more productive and enjoyable. Below is a list of items every kayaker would love to have. If you can’t get Santa or his elves to put them on your gift list, you really should consider buying them for yourself.


Proper clothing will make your outings safer and more comfortable. For warm weather, consider long-sleeve technical shirts designed to keep you

cool and help block harmful sun rays. Quick-drying, long fishing pants also eliminate the need to constantly apply sun screen and minimizes bites from pesky bugs. A quality hat, sun gloves and a lightweight face mask help you stay and look cool on the hottest of days. For cold-weather fishing, warm, waterproof clothing is a must. A good pair of breathable waders topped with moisture-wicking thermals and a waterproof jacket will keep you protected from the elements. The added benefit of being windproof helps warm you on those bone-chilling days. An insulated hat and neck gaiter help you contain and regulate heat loss through your head and neck. Hands and feet are the hardest to keep warm, but waterproof gloves and socks will help keep them dry and toasty.


A good combination GPS/depth finder is not an absolute necessity, but it can be an invaluable tool in many kayak fishing situations. Cell phones are great for general communications, but service is not available in all areas. So a small, waterproof/floating VHF radio gives you access to emergency providers and weather information, as well as allowing communication with general marine traffic. A compact waterproof digital camera is great for capturing and sharing those epic kayak fishing moments and offer proof for those great fishing tales. POV (point-of-view) video cameras let friends, family and even the world come along for a bird’s eye view of your adventures.

178 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013


You’ve got the fish ’yakside, now what? A good landing net will help get the fish under control for release back into the water or into the cooler. There are floating models available and some with telescoping handles that give you extra reach when needed but retract for close up use or easy stowage. Look for a net with a rubber bag that is gentler on the fish and virtually hook free; this eliminates the difficult task of trying to get your lure out of the webbing in the tight confines of a kayak. A quality lip-grip tool is also great to have onboard. Fish can be controlled better for photos and release, and it’s a good idea to hook your gripper on the fish before the hook is removed — while the fish is still in your net. This is great transfer insurance to keep those “Houdini” fish from self-liberation while trying to wrestle them into your cooler. A quality pair of precision pliers doubles as a hookout and a line cutter. Look for a lightweight pair that has strong jaws and an integrated cutter that can handle braided lines. Plan to add a float or leash to all of your hardware to keep from accidentally sending it to the depths.


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 179

Chris Holmes

PADDLES ‘N PUDDLES >>> continued

For lightweight, versatile fish storage, consider a quality soft cooler. Soft coolers can be strapped to fit many places onboard the kayak and fit easier in irregularly shaped locations. Several models are made specifically for kayak use and have tough liners to help prevent puncture and leaking. If you add a clear, plastic fish bag, like those used for bass tournament weigh-ins, you can greatly extend the life of your soft cooler.

Waterproof cases and bags

If you bring it aboard, plan on it getting wet. Kayaks sit close to the water and offer little protection against water, be it from rain or wave splash. Investing in a couple of good dry bags or waterproof boxes will keep your stuff dry and safe. Dry bags are great for storing a change of clothes or that jacket you took off as the day’s temperature rose. Waterproof

boxes are good for dry, crush-proof storage of your phone, camera, wallet and keys.


Kayakers have limited range and need to thoroughly work the area they are fishing. A good pair of polarized sunglasses not only protects your eyes, but they literally allow you to see your surroundings in a whole new light. In clear-water conditions, they allow you to not only spot fish, but also other structure like shells and logs. The polarization cuts glare and helps you spot those telltale signs of fish activity like wakes, baitfish and other on or under the water signs. Make sure to add a lanyard — preferably a small float.

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Personal flotation device This is not a fun item, but one that should not be taken lightly. Sure, you can buy one of those orange, $10 PFDs and be perfectly legal if you have it onboard. However, PFDs are designed to be worn for maximum lifesaving protection. Bulky PFD’s are uncomfortable, hot and difficult to wear while kayak fishing. Many models are specifically designed for paddle sports, and are akin to life insurance. Whether an inflatable or foam vest model, find a PFD that you will wear while fishing in your kayak. You and your family might one day consider it the best Christmas present ever. ■ Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 181

Keith LaCaze


Horses for conservation law enforcement

ABOVE: Before ATVs became commonplace, horses were a tool used to patrol back-country areas inaccessible with motorized vehicles. RIGHT: Back in the 1970s and ’80s, raccoon hunters made great use of horses.

ithin a few days after beginning employment W with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in 1977, I was riding a bucking bronco on

the banks of Bayou Nachitoches in Avoyelles Parish. Each wild leap would give me a glimpse of blue sky followed by muddy, rough ground rushing toward my face as the steed pitched and dived. But this was no rodeo, and this bronco wore Firestone All-Terrains instead of horseshoes. The ’73 Ford Bronco was grinding along a deeply rutted trail that followed the south bank of Bayou Nachitoches in Grassy Lake Wildlife Management Area. Even referring to it as a trail was giving way too much credit. I had been told the route would bring me to the Red River and the eastern border of this recently acquired WMA. But doubt filled my mind as the Bronco bounced and rocked along for miles. After more than three hours, the river came into view, verifying this was, indeed, the right trail. The bad news was that this was the best way out as well as in, meaning I had to turn around and do it all over again if I wanted to see home that night. This was one of many days spent in the summer of that first year learning my way around country I had not seen before being hired. Not only was I learning the assigned patrol area, but I was also figuring out that if it was this bad during the relatively dry summer months, many of the wood’s “roads” would be far beyond the capabilities of my trusty Bronco come winter. Sure enough, by December only those

182 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

four-wheel-drive vehicles equipped with the mostaggressive tires, lift kits and winches could get in and out of the woods. And they far exceeded anything the Department provided. Three-wheeled ATVs were coming into the picture, providing access to places trucks couldn’t go. But the Department was still years away from equipping wildlife agents with ATVs, so we were left behind on that score, as well. Many local hunters born and raised in the rough, muddy back-country terrain of Avoyelles

Parish had a way of getting around all winter long — quietly and without need of winch, mud grip or gasoline. They used horses to travel in the deep woods. Hunters commonly went about their business on horseback. Of particular interest were the raccoon hunters. Fur prices were good in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and coon hunting was big business. A large, prime coon hide sold for around $18, and a hunter with good dogs and a reliable horse could harvest eight or 10 coons in a night. Not a bad night’s work in those days. Trappers were using horses to run trap lines, as well. In addition to the coon hunting and trapping, a lot of illegal hunting involved horses. So it did not take long to realize if any meaningful enforcement was going to be done off the maintained roads, I was going to need a horse. Fortunately, the Department owned a couple. They were located at the Saline (now Dewey Wills) Wildlife Management Area. I contacted the WMA supervisor with a request to use the horses for a while. He was happy to transfer the horses, trailer and tack to me for as long as needed. One steed was tall and red, while the other was short. And I don’t know whom the imaginative thinker was naming the pair (probably the agency’s secretary), but they were called “Red” and “Shorty.” Names aside, they were surprisingly good horses. Red had a beautiful gait, and was perfect for traveling long distances over open country. Shorty was a good woods horse, never banging your knees or rubbing your legs against trees. They were well behaved, reliable and gentle.















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Find us on Facebook! December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 183

Keith LaCaze

GAME WARDEN >>> continued

I spent a lot of time patrolling Grassy Lake and Pomme de Terre WMAs, looking for illegal campsites, permanent structures such as duck blinds and deer stands, and any other illegal or prohibited activities. The horseback patrols were very effective. I was able to find numerous illegal campsites and duck blinds, and issued summonses to the offenders using them. One of those camps was accessible only by horse, and the offenders even had a horse corral by the camp for their own horses. Some might have thought it foolhardy, but I rode the WMAs during open deer season, wearing an orange vest and hat with orange flagging tape on Shorty’s mane, tail and saddle stirrups. I never had a problem, and it was a great way to quietly get to where a shot had been fired and determine whether it was a legal kill. Checking horseback fur trappers was also made possible. Admittedly, I limited night patrol. It was simply too hazardous. Over in East Texas, a night rider had been shot and killed by a poacher who shined the horse’s eyes and fired a load of buckshot thinking it was a deer. And I vividly remember one night when I had to quickly dismount and throw my coat over Red’s eyes while a poacher drove by in a truck, shining a spotlight in our direction. I like to think the horse patrols were good public relations, as well as effective job performance. After the initial surprise of seeing a game warden on a horse, many hunters would strike up a conversation and ask all sorts of questions. One thing was

certain: The horse got more snacks and pats on the shoulder than the rider. For a time we brought the horses out to the National Hunting and Fishing Day event, and people loved them. In time, Shorty and Red returned to Dewey Wills, where they were used to address an illegal free-ranging cattle problem on the WMA. The department never acquired any more horses, but did start purchasing more 4X4 trucks and ATVs. For a short time in the late ’80s a few agents used personally owned horses for patrol on rare occasions, but the practice did not last. Some of the fish-and-game agencies, particularly in the West, continue utilizing horses even today. The agencies either own the horses or pays a stipend to cover expenses on horses owned by officers and used for work. My good buddy and fellow retired game warden Rick Pallister of Buffalo, Wyo., had a great pair of horses he used to patrol the back country of the Big Horn Mountains in his work district. I always envied him that aspect of the job. Out West, active-duty wardens continue riding deep into the mountains where only a horse Retired Wildlife Enforcement can go. And that is just as it Lieutenant Colonel Keith should be, both from a tradiLaCaze spent 34 years with the LDWF beginning tional sense and a practical in 1977. LaCaze is happily one. After all, a four-wheeler married to wife Mitzi and won’t let you know a grizzly is the father of two children. sniffing around camp, but a horse will. ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 185

Bill Garbo


Thoughts on food plot preparation ABOVE: Creating productive green patches requires planning and time.

y the time this article appears in the December B issue, the whitetail prerut should be in full swing here in the Gulf Coastal South. As I sit at my writing desk in late October, thought, my food plot fields are just now planted and established. The tender young shoots of oats, wheat, rye and clover, that now carpet my food plots, are being heavily clipped and browsed by meandering bands of deer that are just beginning to feel the early pangs of the annual hormone fueled whitetail breeding ritual. I was extremely lucky this particular planting season to have all of the necessary ingredients for good wintertime food plots converging at the same time.

Food plots provide supplemental nutrition and provide trail cam locations to keep tabs on deer.

186 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

A regular reader of “Happy Trails” would by now rightly surmise that I am a very detailed and meticulous person who always strives for perfection and spares nothing in this pursuit. This genetic trait can be both a gift and a curse, depending on the circumstance. My planning efforts for activities such as food plot planting can, at times, seem more like the preparation necessary for an amphibious invasion. The acreage of each of my individual food plots is carefully measured in advance, as was the desired broadcast rates for seed and fertilizer. I try to never rely on hope and luck as a plan, and this year was no exception. My battle plan for planting was carefully calculated and laid out. The process of disking, applying seed and fertilizer, and smoothing and covering, would be accomplished in one long, full day with my son’s help. On the mid-October Saturday that these activities were scheduled to take place, the local weather forecast had mentioned only a very slight risk of a shower late in the day. I had arranged to be free the whole day, and my son and granddaughter were coming up from Louisiana to help. So it was “all hands on deck.” Having risen well before dawn, I was sitting in my pickup at the loading dock of the local seed-andfeed store when they unlocked the door. After loading up, I hauled the seed and fertilizer to “the farm” and prepared to begin thoroughly disking each field. All of the disking was finished by about 1 p.m., and we then swapped the disc for the big hopper broadcaster. My selected broadcast rate was 200 pounds per acre using a four-way seed blend and 200 pounds per acre for fertilizer. I usually spread the seed first and follow up with the fertilizer, but on this particular day, for some reason, I decided to bring along a plastic kayak paddle to blend the seed and fertilizer together as they were simultaneously poured into the hopper. This method is only as accurate as how well

blended the seed and fertilizer are in the hopper, it does cut the total broadcast time in half. Thank goodness for the extra time advantage, because as I loaded and blended the mixture at about 4 p.m. for the very last field, inky black clouds alive with lightning bolts were rolling in fast from the north. I jumped back in the tractor and began running circuits back and forth through that final field like a mad man, trying my best to finish before the deluge hit. Literally, 10 minutes after finishing — as I was speeding back to the tractor shed — the bottom dropped out, and as I peered through the rain swept windshield, it suddenly dawned on me that now I would not be able to drag the fields with a harrow to cover the seed and fertilizer. To me, at that moment, the whole effort looked like a total disaster. All of my careful plotting and planning down the drain — not to mention several hundred dollars worth of seed and fertilizer — due to a random, unpredicted and unforeseen thunderstorm. But you know, Lady Luck is a fickle old gal, and she can just as quickly decide to shine on you as ruin your plans. My fields were freshly disced, and the rain was just long and intense enough to wash most of the seed and fertilizer pellets into a matrix of furrows, cracks and crevices, and cover them up with a thin layer of soil. As the old saying goes, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. My food plots have never looked this good this early. I don’t know how many times over the years I have gone through the whole sequence of steps involved in proper planting and then not had a rain for several weeks, or had just enough moisture to

cause germination followed by a drought. This year it was dumb luck, but I’ll take it. I definitely learn from this experience, with my main takeaway being to plan on following all of the proper planting and covering steps whenever possible but if a high probability of rain is forecast you just might be able to get away with not covering your seed and fertilizer. Of course, as in my case, this works a lot better if the ground is freshly disced before broadcasting your seed and fertilizer just ahead of the onset of good rainfall. Planting successful food plots is truly a science unto itself, with the range of potential outcomes being directly aligned with the amount of advanced preparation and effort that you put into it. To this end, I highly recommend to a guide book to food plots that I have found to be extremely helpful over the years. The title of this book is “Quality Food Plots,” and it is available through the Quality Deer Management Association. This guide book is well written and is chock full of color photos. My food plots serve multiple purposes: providing supplemental sources of nutrition for deer during the winter months, providing excellent trail camera observation points and serving as attractors for deer. If you are not currently Bill Garbo is a petroleum planting food plots on your engineer and avid whitetail hunting property, consider hunter from Madison, Miss. He has lived and hunted out putting some in. If you do, you west and taken numerous won’t be disappointed. big game species, but huntHunt hard, be safe and keep ing big old mature southern whitetail bucks is his favorite your trail cameras in action. ■ pursuit by a country mile.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 187

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news breakers

Florien hunter takes Sabine Parish 13-pointer Big buck yet to be scored By Patrick Bonin


t’s been said that patience is a virtue. In Colton Rogers’ case, it was the key to taking down a big 13-point buck the morning of Nov. 3 in Sabine Parish. Rogers, 21, had gotten into his box blind at 5:30 a.m. on a power line right-of-way in Negreet, about 10 miles southwest of Many, and had zero action all morning. “I hadn’t seen anything,” said Rogers, who lives in Florien. “I was about ready to get out of the stand.” That all changed about 8:50 when things happened fast and furious as a big buck trotted out about 80 yards away. “I looked up and I looked to my right and I saw him out of my right window,” Rogers said. “I about had a heart attack.

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Florien’s Colton Rogers killed this 13-pointer Nov. 3 while hunting in Sabine Parish.

“It all happened so quick. I looked up and all I saw was horns. I threw my gun up, shot him and the next thing I knew I was standing over him.” The big buck, which Rogers estimates at about 200 pounds, dropped on the spot. “He was over the top of a little hill from me. Whenever I dropped him, I couldn’t see any of his body, but I could see horns sticking up over the top of that hill,” he said. “He wasn’t chasing a doe or anything. I guess he was running his scrapes because he had a lot of leaves and stuff still in his horns, and some bark on the base of his horns.” After the kill shot, Rogers decided to have a little fun with his dad, who was hunting farther down the right-of-way. His dad texted him to see if he had hit his target, and Rogers told him that he had. “I said I shot a doe because my Pappaw wanted some meat,” Rogers said with a smile. “So whenever he got there, he got out cussing me. But he was excited, and we both had a good laugh.” Rogers had seen the deer in trail cam pics just before the opening weekend of rifle season, and both he and his father were eager to see who would get the first shot at the big buck. “He wanted that deer so bad,” Rogers said. “He told me, ‘If you shoot that deer, you’re going to be walking home.’ “ He hasn’t gotten the deer green-scored yet, but the atypical rack features six points on the left main beam and a right beam that sprouted seven points in all directions. “He’s got some pretty crazy horns,” said Rogers, who shot his first deer in pre-K. “I’m still in shock over it.” And the good news is that father and son left the woods together Sunday morning. “Oh yeah, he still gave me a ride,” Rogers said with a laugh. ■

news breakers

Reward offered in bear killing From News Reports


gents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are looking for leads on an illegally killed black bear found in Avoyelles Parish on Oct. 8, according to a press release. The bear was found in the woods a couple of miles south of the Grassy Lake Wildlife Management Area and alerted authorities. According to the release, a necropsy revealed the bear had been dead about five or six days, and had been shot in the head with a shotgun slug. Agents also located an arrow where the bear was found, and believe it may have been shot with the arrow first. A cash reward totaling up to $8,000 is being offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons involved in the killing of the bear, the release states. Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511. You can also text your tip to 847411 via the Tip411 program, or download the “LADWF Tips” app available free of charge. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and both the hotline and Tip411 program are monitored 24 hours a day. The Louisiana black bear has been listed on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List since 1992, the release states. Killing a Louisiana black bear is a violation of both state law and the federal Endangered Species Act. Violators are subject to penalties of up to $50,000 and six months in jail. In addition, a restitution fine of $10,000 for the bear may be imposed on anyone convicted of killing a black bear in Louisiana. With the number of interactions between bears and hunters on the rise, LDWF encourages hunters to carry bear spray, according to the release. ■


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 191

news breakers

Anacoco hunter downs P&Y trophy Hunter kills 130-class buck just before heading offshore

By Chris Berzas

arly on the morning of Oct. 8, Casey Martin knew he had to catch an afternoon flight to work offshore for his usual two-week hitch. But images of a big buck from a field camera on his lease late this summer were still haunting the 35-year-old Anacoco hunter. “It was in mid-August when I saw this buck for the first time in velvet on a couple of pictures taken at night,” Martin said. “But I never saw him again.” Archery season finally came around and, after a hunt on Oct. 5, Martin checked the cameras again and saw the big buck once more, this time without velvet. Despite his best efforts to take him that weekend, does were all Martin saw. So with a tough decision to make that Tuesday morning hours before his flight offshore, Martin got some very good advice from his wife Angie. “You’re going hunting,” she said, knowing he wouldn’t be back for two weeks, a time of heavier hunting pressure near the opening of the Area 3 gun season. By then, his chances at the big buck would be greatly diminished, she knew. So Martin decided to give it a shot, and reached his stand at about 6:30 that morning.

“Daylight was breaking, and I was actually on the cell texting Angie,” Martin said. “At about 7:15, I caught a glimpse of an antlered buck walking in a hardwoods thicket. I saw where it was going, so I stood up and came to full draw. “I remember intentionally not wanting to focus specifically on his headgear because I didn’t want to get too nervous. He finally stepped out of the thicket into an opening at 40 yards, and I let the arrow go at his broadside.” Martin used a Hoyt Carbon Casey Martin of Anacoco arrowed this 130-class Element bow with a 100-grain 9-pointer the morning before flying offshore for work. Rage broadhead on a Gold score it when mounting it.” Tip arrow. Martin’s buck was a 9-pointer that The buck dropped immediately, and weighed slightly more than 180 pounds, after waiting about 30 minutes, Martin with a 26-inch neck circumference, mass descended from his stand and walked circumferences as high as 5 4/8-inches and a over to check him out. forked G2 on the left main beam. “It was when I got close that I realized Scarinzi’s green score was 134 inches, just how big he was,” he said. “I got out of there by 8, and eventually had him caped, with official measurements to take place after a 60-day drying period. The miniskinned and quartered at home. mum score Pope &Young entry score is “On my way to the airport, I stopped 125 inches. ■ at Fin Feather N Fur Taxidermy, where Victor Scarinzi told me he would green


Four arrested for night-hunting violations in Concordia Parish


oncordia Parish Sheriff ’s deputies and agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries arrested four people for alleged night-hunting violations on Oct. 21, according to a press release. Authorities observed someone in a vehicle on Haphazard Road in Concordia

192 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Parish shining a spotlight in nearby fields and shooting numerous times about 4 a.m., the release states. The four people inside the vehicle were identified as Joshua K. Parker, 21, of Vidalia and Shelby L. Martin, 17, Joshua S. Holmes, 26, and Emily S. Perry, 23, all from Ridgecrest. Numerous firearms along with nine freshly-killed rabbits and one freshlykilled deer were found in the bed of the vehicle, according to the release. All four subjects were charged with taking deer during illegal hours, hunting wild quadrupeds during illegal hours, hunting from a moving vehicle and tak-

ing deer from a public road. Additionally, Parker and Martin were cited for discharging a firearm from a public road, the release states. The subjects were arrested and booked into the Concordia Parish Jail. According to the release, hunting deer during illegal hours brings up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail. Hunting from a moving vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public road and hunting wild quadrupeds during illegal hours each carries between a $250 and $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Taking a deer from a public road carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail. ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 193

news breakers

Hunter sleeps in, kills 165-inch buck 14-pointer responds to grunt call


By Patrick Bonin

pparently, the early bird doesn’t always get the worm. Dennis Shirley slept a little late on Nov. 9, but still managed to get to his stand in time to shoot a non-typical 14-pointer in Red River Parish that green scored 165 inches Boone and Crockett. “I had set my alarm, but I just hit the snooze button too many times,” he said with a laugh. The evening before, the 31-year-old from Shreveport shot a 150-pound boar from that same box stand positioned on a pipeline, and had intended to switch locations for his Saturday morning hunt. “I got up a little bit late, and I was headed to another stand,” Shirley said. “But I pulled in, and my brother’s truck was already there, so I had to leave that stand and go back to the stand where I hunted the evening before and killed the pig. “I didn’t even need a flashlight walking in there. It was probably 6:10 or 6:15. I climbed up in the stand not expecting to see anything.” He decided to grunt a few times, and less than 10 minutes later, the big buck was on his way.

“I could hear him coming through the brush,” Shirley said. “He wasn’t walking on a trail or anything. He was coming straight through the middle of the thicket.” The 14-pointer stopped behind a big bush, and finally presented himself about 110 yards away. “I could see the split G2s, and when he stepped out on that pipeline, I didn’t give him a chance to run across,” he said. Shirley’s Remington 7mm mag found its mark, and the deer took off and crossed the pipeline. “I knew I made a good shot, and I got down and I found meat and hair and a little bit of blood,” he said. He called his brother Michael to help him find the buck, and with the help of a dog, they located him a few hours later about 70 yards from where he’d been shot. The big buck’s impressive rack, a mainframe 8-point, featured a split G2 on the left side, and a right G2 with three points. The inside spread was 19 1/2 inches, with 5 1/2 inches of mass between the G2 and G3 on each side. He weighed 225 pounds, and

Dennis Shirley proved you don't have to get into the woods before daybreak when he killed this 160-class 14-pointer on Nov. 9. green scored 165 inches Boone and Crockett. Shirley had seen the big buck on his trail cameras a month before the season started, and might have possibly seen him in 2012, as well. “I think I saw him last year when he was a mainframe 8-point. He was just a real heavy-horned deer last year,” he said. “This year he came back as a non-typical deer. We get that a lot over there where we hunt.” Shirley, who shot a non-typical 20-pointer that scored 195 inches from the same stand four years ago, was just happy the late start allowed him and the buck to meet up. “He’s a real good deer. I was tickled to death,” he said. “It was meant to be, I guess.” ■

Even more bucks Log onto to read the full stories of these great bucks. RIGHT: Delores Sampey was left home when her husband and son went on a out-of-state trophy trips, so she went hunting near her Natchitoches home and killed this 130-class 8-pointer. FAR RIGHT: Brandon Harrell of Marksville arrowed this 12-pointer Nov. 2 on Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.

Permits no longer needed for Ft. Polk, Peason Ridge WMAs From News Reports 194 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

U.S. Army officials announced the federal permit previously required to hunt on Fort Polk and Peason Ridge Wildlife Management Areas are no longer required, according to a press release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

However, archery and small game hunters using the Cantonment Area within the Army installation are advised that proper visitor passes are required to enter the security gates, the release states. > Louisiana hunting licenses are still

news breakers

Third time's the charm for West Monroe hunter

170-inch buck escapes twice in 24 hours before hunter finally gets a shot By Glynn Harris


ithin a span of about 24 hours, West Monroe’s Krista Richardson laid her eyes on the same big buck three different times. The first two, the buck was there and gone so fast she had no chance for a shot. But on his third pass, the buck hung around just long enough for her to get him in her sights, and Richardson finally got the big 9-point that ultimately green scored in the 170-inch range. “My husband and I hunt on a private 200-acre tract of bottomland in Ouachita Parish and had gone out (the afternoon of Nov. 15) to hunt. I was hunting alone in a box stand overlooking a food plot and watched a doe dash across the opening with a big buck in hot pursuit. He was there and gone before I could get a shot,” Richardson said. She prefers to do her hunting in the afternoon but her husband, Dewayne, talked her into going back to the stand the next morning. The weather was unusually warm and foggy and she didn’t see any deer at all. “So that afternoon, I got back on my stand. My husband had some trail cam photos of this big buck and that was the one I was hunting for. I knew he was in the area after getting a glimpse the afternoon before,” she said. “Around 5, some does and yearlings and a small 6-point buck came out to the food plot to feed. I just had the feeling that the big buck would appear any minute, so I put my gun in the window and waited. Sure enough, I saw him stick his head out of the brush and I got ready.” As the buck had done the afternoon before, he burst from the thicket chasing a doe and the pair disappeared into the woods across the opening. That was two glimpses of the big buck in two days without getting a shot, and Richardson was beginning to get a bit discouraged. “I was frustrated but I said a little prayer that the buck would give me a decent opportunity and about that time, the doe came back across the food plot with the buck right behind her,” Richardson said. This time, her prayer was answered because instead of dashing back to the woods, he stopped to spar with the little 6-point. “I had to wait until he stepped away from the smaller buck because I was afraid if I shot, I’d hit both deer. Fortunately, he

required to hunt on federal properties, including the $15 annual WMA hunting permit, the release states. In addition, all users of Fort Polk and Peason Ridge are reminded that they must still fill out a self-clearing permit,

Krista Richardson finally got a shot at this 170-class buck the third time she saw it within a 24-hour period.

moved aside and I shot,” she said. But instead of dropping in its tracks or rushing away, the buck just stood there for a few seconds, then began walking toward the woods and disappeared. “I called my husband and he came over and we couldn’t find anything to indicate I’d hit the deer. We went back home, assuming I’d missed. “The next morning, we went to church and that afternoon, I got back in my stand in case he’d show up again. He didn’t,” Richardson said. Her husband checked his trail cam and saw the does, yearlings and the 6-point had come back to feed after Richardson’s shot, but there was no sign of the big buck. The next morning, Dewayne had a feeling she had hit the buck, so he went back for a last look, two days after the encounter. “He called me and told me he hadn’t gone far into the woods when he saw antlers and found my buck. The coyotes had already started working on him,” she said. The buck carried a rack with an inside spread of 18 ½ inches, with main beams over 28 inches each. The mass of the antlers carried throughout the rack, and the buck was estimated to weigh around 180 pounds. He was entered into the big buck contest at TP Outdoors with a score of 170 6/8 inches. She also entered the Simmons Big Buck Contest in Bastrop, where he was scored at 170 even. Although the latest results have yet to be posted, Richardson’s buck will lead the women’s category and the 9-point category, and be in 2nd place in the muzzleloader (primitive firearms) category. “This is the first buck I’ve shot in 11 years,” she said. “I guess this one was worth waiting on.” ■

available in information kiosks at most WMA entrance roads, for all activities. Fort Polk and Peason Ridge WMAs provide more than 138,000 acres for public recreation activities through a cooperative partnership between the U.S. Army,

the state and the U.S. Forest Service, the release states. ■

For the latest in hunting news, visit December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 195

news breakers

NOAA to update recreational snapper quotas Vitter gains promise of new guidelines From News Reports


n late October, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) announced the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agreed to develop guidelines to review allocation quotas, and also fill its leadership role in potentially increasing the recreational quota for red snapper. Earlier, Vitter threatened to hold the Senate nomination of Dr. Kathryn Sullivan to be Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, and administrator of NOAA, according to several press releases. “For too long Louisiana anglers have sat in waiting for NOAA to implement their own policies and required guidelines for periodic review of allocation levels,” Vitter said. “We need to make sure that the Agency in charge of managing fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico understands the importance of ensuring that policies for managing marine life and economies in the Gulf are periodically reviewed. NOAA’s lack of leadership in requiring action on the Agency’s own policy has the potential for fishermen and businesses to suffer and even waste precious resources. “Implementing their own policy to ensure concerns are periodically addressed should be a priority.” In the response to his letter last week, NOAA has agreed to: 1. Engage all regional Fishery Management Councils, with the goal of developing guidance documents for the periodic review of allocation quotas, and 2. Increase its leadership role on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, including supporting the addition of Amendment 28, which has six potential options for updating allocation levels for red snapper. “We commend Senator Vitter for stepping up to the plate on behalf of recreational fishermen and highlighting the need for NOAA to adhere to its own policy,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Using data from the 1980s to dictate allocation in 2013 just doesn’t make sense. Modern economic, demographic and conservation criteria should be examined regularly to make these determinations.” Because of the agreement, Vitter ensured the Gulf Council will at least bring red snapper allocation efforts to the table at its February meeting. “Anglers throughout the country owe a debt of gratitude to Senator David Vitter for his common sense approach to fisheries management policy,” said Mike Nussman, president and 196 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

U.S. Senator David Vitter announced in November that NOAA agreed to increase its leadership role in the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, including supporting an update of red snapper allocations for recreational anglers. CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “As a result of his efforts, NOAA is now focused on the issue and the process appears to be moving in the right direction — although we will all need to stay actively involved in the process.” The current red snapper allocation of 51 percent for commercial and 49 percent to recreational was developed in the 1980s and still stands today. To read more about the controversy surrounding the possibility of increasing the red snapper quota in favor of recreational anglers, click here for a recent article. “Thanks to Sen. David Vitter we can now look with a hopeful eye to the February 2014 meeting of the Gulf Council and hope that federal managers do their job and finally address allocation,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “Senator Vitter’s commitment to this issue appears to have finally moved the needle in the direction of government responsibility.” ■

news breakers

Fishermen rescued after boat sinks off Southwest Pass From News Reports


BIG BUCK contest

With deer season under way, there’s no better way to track your season than to post photos of your kills on the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest.

Courtesy of LDWF

ouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists on a regularly scheduled sampling trip assisted in the rescue Oct. 23 of five offshore fishermen whose vessel inadvertently struck an oil platform. According to a press release, the LDWF vessel Blazing Sevens. stationed out of the Grand Isle Fisheries Research Lab, arrived at the scene where the 64-foot Viking sport “Extra Sauce” had sunk after striking a platform. The five fishermen were aboard a life raft and were brought aboard the LDWF vessel, the release states. “Every day I am proud of the work our biologists do at the Grand Isle Fisheries Lab, but I am even more proud of them and their efforts to help this crew whose lives were in immediate danger,” said Myron Fischer, LDWF Fisheries Lab Director. “The team we have assembled in Grand Isle are among the finest biologists I have worked with and they never hesitate to go above and beyond the call of duty.” ■

Sponsored by:

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 197

news breakers

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will stop printing navigational charts on April 13, but they will still be available online in PDF form.

NOAA to stop printing nautical charts PDFs available online


pril 13 will mark the end of an era for nautical navigational charts. On that date, the lithographic NOAA Navigation Charts, which have been printed by the federal government since 1862 for sale to mariners and fishermen, will no longer be printed and distributed. The decision to stop production was based on several factors, including a declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts and a smaller budget for the department. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Coast Survey, which creates and maintains the nation’s suite of more than 1,000 nautical charts of U.S. coastal waters, recently announced major changes ahead for mariners and others who use nautical charts. In place of the large paper charts, they will be offered in electronic Portable Document Format files. The PDF format charts can be printed or viewed electronically. For those vessels required to carry paper NOAA Navigation Charts, only those printed by NOAA Certified Print-On-Demand partners will be accepted. NOAA lists five key features of the PDF nautical chart: • Updated Weekly — PDF charts are up-to-date with critical corrections from Notice to Mariners. • Available Immediately — New PDF chart editions are available two to eight weeks sooner than traditional NOAA paper charts have been. • Enhanced Readability — These charts are printed in brighter colors, so they are easier to read. Additionally, the files are high resolution, at 400 dpi. • Printable — Most charts can be printed from any plotter capable of plotting 36” width to achieve 1:1 scale. • Easy to view — PDF files can be viewed with free PDF read-

198 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

By Jerry Dilsaver ers such as Adobe Reader. If you do not already have this viewer installed on your computer, you may obtain it at no cost from the Adobe Reader web page. Other free PDF readers can be found by searching the Internet. The most-current versions of the PDF format charts can be downloaded from the NOAA Nautical Charts website, www. The new NOAA PDF format charts will be offered as free downloads for a pilot program now through Jan. 22. That program is already online at pdfcharts. The NOAA Nautical Charts website has an on-line chart viewer that allows mariners to view and select the charts they need. The future of this program depends of feedback from mariners and fishermen. NOAA will be gauging public interest and use of these new products, and those using it are asked to please provide comments on this new service. There is a link for comments at “With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them,” said Capt. Shep Smith, Chief of the Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago.” NOAA will continue to create and maintain other forms of nautical charts, including the increasingly popular Print on Demand charts, which will be available from NOAA certified partners. NOAA electronic navigational charts and raster navigational charts, which are used in a variety of electronic charting systems, are also updated weekly and are available for free downloads from the NOAA Office of Coast Survey website. ■


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 199

news breakers

Crochet earns second Classic invitation $500,000 prize up for grabs at Big Show By Patrick Bonin

Cliff Crochet has had a dream Elite Series season, catching some monster bass and making the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.


hen B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Cliff Crochet heads to North Alabama’s Lake Guntersville in late February to fish in his second Bassmaster Classic, he might actually pinch himself a couple times on the long drive — just to make sure he’s not dreaming. “Fishing two Classics?” Crochet asked. “At one time I was happy just to go to a Classic as a fan. You never think you would ever get to actually fish in one. “And now I get to fish in two? Can you imagine having everything you ever wanted? That’s about what this is for me.” The 30-year-old “Cajun Baby,” who still calls Pierre Part home, qualified for the 2010 Classic at Lay Lake near Birmingham, Ala., and finished in 13th place with 28.15 pounds in a tournament won by Kevin VanDam. This year, powered by a ninth-place finish on Falcon Lake in March, Crochet finished the season in 10th place in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings. And he’s heading into the 2014 Classic with a decidedly different attitude from four years ago. “The first one, I wanted to make sure I had a good tournament,” Crochet said. 200 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

“For this one, it’s how do I figure out a way to win? “The first one, really, winning was probably the furthest thing from my mind. What I mean by that is I probably didn’t scout for the type of fish I needed to win. I just wanted to find some fish and have a good tournament. Going into this one, I want to find the right fish. The winning fish. And on Lake Guntersville, you better be on the right ones.” The 75-mile, 69,000-acre fishery fed by the Tennessee River is known for producing some monster bass, and lots of them. And Crochet predicted the threeday winning weight in February will break the Classic record of 75 pounds, 9 ounces set in 1984 by Rick Clunn. (The daily limit in 1984 was seven bass. Kevin VanDam holds the Classic record for heaviest catch in the five bass era with 69-11 in 2011.) “It’s going to be a slugfest,” he said. “Lowballing, I’m going to say 78 pounds at the absolute lowest. That’s 26 to 27 (pounds) a day, every day. “You can almost bet on it. That’s what lives there, and that’s what it’s going to be.” Crochet plans on taking a couple of scouting trips this fall before the lake goes off limits on Jan. 1.

“I want to see where the grass is now, the ditches, that kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s not so much about how to catch them this fall; it’s more idling and looking, looking and idling. “You’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, but when you see it, you’ll know it.” One unknown factor for each of the 56 Classic competitors will be the weather in northeast Alabama come the last week of February. “We could pull up at that Classic and be bundled up like Eskimos with 25-degree weather and snow, and it would be a pure winter tournament,” Crochet said. “Or we could pull up to take off and its 50 degrees outside, and it’s a spring tournament. “We just have to sit and wait and see how that’s going to play out.” Whatever happens weather-wise, this will definitely be more of a business trip than his first Classic at Lay Lake. “You have to focus and take care of fishing. For 56 people, it’s a fishing tournament,” Crochet said. “For the other 100,000 people who go, it’s a show or vacation. “But when you’re fishing, you can’t forget it’s a tournament.” ■

B.R. angler named

Courtesy of IFA

news breakers

IFA kayaker

Brendan Bayard of Baton Rouge was named the 2013 Overall Angler of the Year on the IFA Kayak Tour.

of the year


From News Reports

rendan Bayard won the 2013 Overall Angler of the Year Award for the Inshore Fishing Association Kayak Tour presented by Hobie Fishing. Bayard, of Baton Rouge, received paid entry fees for one division in 2014 and $1,000 for his accomplishment, according to a press release. He clinched the title in Houma with his second-place finish at the IFA Kayak Tour Championship last month. “It’s kind of the ultimate testament to consistency,” Bayard said in the release. “That’s what really made it a special award for me. It’s a tough battle for it every year. Luckily, this year I was really on my game for bull reds.” With four years on the IFA Kayak Tour under his belt, Bayard attributes his consistency to his trout fishing. “I would consider myself a trout person, first and foremost,” he said. “I feel that I can compete with most people with my consistency catching speckled trout. I have been doing that for so long. That has usually helped make the difference.” This year, he concentrated his efforts on catching bull reds to increase his chances of placing higher on the leader board. “Lately it’s been bull red shootouts,” Bayard said. “You almost have to land a mid-30s redfish and even into the 40s sometimes. We’ve been focusing on learning how to catch these bull reds. Two out of three tournaments we have Standard Features: been on big fish and that’s Top, Windshield, Winch, really helped us.” Custom Wheels, The fastest-growing kayak Trailer Hitch, fishing tournament trail in the 4 Wheel Drive, Dumping Bed, Mirrors country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing are catch-photographrelease tournaments, offering inshore kayak anglers from a multitude of states the opportunity to participate in 712 1-10 S. Frontage Rd competitive fishing tournaScott, LA 70583 ments with low entry fees and 337-233-9383 minimal travel requirements. ■

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 203

World WILD Web

Great time to be a First deer fisherman 12-year-old makes uncle proud

Fall is captain’s favorite time of year supporting member Salty Dog Charters posted this report on the Inshore Fishing forum on Nov. 17. Fall fishing is easily my favorite time of the year to fish. And (Nov. 16) was one of those perfect days. Light winds, clear water, strong tides and a marsh full of speckled trout. Mr. Brian Balhoff out of Baton Rouge usually comes down with his stepdad and brother, but seeing as how they were all busy duck hunting he had to take on the burden himself. We had a blast out there. I told Brian the fish have been a little bigger toward Delacroix, so we went that way. Mission for the day was to catch our limit of 50 without hitting any one place that I had fished before. With these conditions, it’s great to hit new holes because you know it’s not really conditions in your way if they don’t produce. We found fish everywhere, with the larger fish coming off points in bigger bays and way back in the ponds. The get-your-limit fish came from deeper holes with strong tide. We found that if the fish got small switching back and forth to plastic would get you a couple thick keepers; then put some more bait in the water to keep ‘em rolling. We caught fish just about every tactic from live under a cork to tight-lined plastics on a jighead. But the quality of fish on the plastics was hands down better. Fish were hitting them either under a cork in shallow flats or on the fall pitched into deep holes with some tidal rip. Even got on a really good puppy drum bite at the end dragging dead bait down on the bottom. FUN day on the water and got our 50 trout without too much of a worry; struck out at some of the new spots but also added a three or four new honey holes to the list. We fished in and around Four Horse and Round Lake. 204 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013 user “peterbilt” posted this image on the Hunting forum on Nov. 12. My nephew’s first deer, at the age of 12. I was very proud of him; he did everything right. Big thanks to Mr. Danny for the great management he does for our lease. This is (one of ) our future hunters, and I know now just how it feels to help a young hunter be into the great outdoors. The best feeling ever — maybe better than killing my own. Congrats, Joe Allen Pommier.

Dularge trout bash

Foggy morning turns into school madness User “ralacour” uploaded this image on the Inshore Fishing forum on Nov. 17. Had my brother Travis, my buddy chase and my buddy Craig “Road Kill” on the boat today, and we started off wondering around in the fog picking up a few trout. Once the fog lifted, we hit a school and caught around 50 trout and two reds. Once the bite stopped, we made a few moves and picked up a few more. Ended up with 57 trout and two reds.

Big Buck Photo Contest

woodvillehills wins user “woodvillehills” posted this photo on the Louisiana Big Buck Photo Contest gallery on Oct. 14, showing a fine 11-point velvet deer killed outside of Woodville, Miss. Woodvillehills will receive a $25 gift coupon to the online Sportsman Store and a free one-year subscription to Louisiana Sportsman magazine. He’s also eligible for the random drawing at the end of the season for free Nikon Monarch ATB 10x42 bionoculars. Enter your deer today to be eligible.

350-pound Big Nasty

Hunter on Pearl River WMA hog-hunting mission User “Clayton C.” posted this photo on the Hog Hunting forum of LouisianaSportsman. com on Oct. 18. Hogs have taken over under my stand in Pearl River so we’re fighting back. One down, About 20 more on camera to go.

Easy fish fry Lake Buhlow crappie keep users busy user “grinnal” posted this report on the Freshwater Fishing forum on Nov. 17. Me and my son caught over 30 crappie at Lake Buhlow in Pineville. We were using a small jighead with tiny chartreuse u-tail skirt.casting along grass on a cloudy day. We went home and had us a fish. Can’t get no better.

Bull reds in Chef Pass

User doesn’t let forecast stop fishing trip

User “Poseidon” posted this photo on the Inshore Fishing forum on Nov. 18. Despite the report of foul weather for (Nov. 17), we had a great trip! We caught several keeper specks, but were surprised by the number and size of the bull reds in the area. We caught several exceeding 30 inches. My friend Anne was fishing with me and caught her very first bull redfish! Great fishing, and got back in time for the Saints! Who Dat!

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 205

new products

LIFEPROOF NÜÜD CASE LifeProof nüüd for Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII is the first waterproof, all-protective smartphone case without a screen cover. Users get a full touch-screen experience, while their smartphone stays totally sealed from water, sweat, dirt and other daily hazards. The nüüd case also provides shock, drop and vibration protection so users can bring their phone everywhere they go without worry.

More Info:

SPENT SHELLS ALONG THE ATLANTIC A must-read for duck hunters everywhere, “Spent Shells Along The Atlantic” by Tom S. Long is a colorful look at the beloved and exciting sport of waterfowl hunting. This 230-page book is beautifully packaged and full of photos from modern and old-time hunts. The author shares incredible stories of market gunners during the golden era of waterfowling, as well as great hunts enjoyed by modern waterfowl enthusiasts.

More Info:

Follow Us — In the woods and on Facebook


Three new models have been added to the Nikon MONARCH 5 binocular line, with each featuring 56 mm objective lenses that provide sharp, high-contrast views. Available in 8x56, 16x56 and 20x56 versions, these new binoculars are lightweight, covered in rubber armoring for added durability and feature multi-click turn-and-slide eyecups that make it easy to find the correct position to see the full field of view.

More Info:

206 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

HAWKE SPORT HD IR 3-9X40 SCOPE Hawke Sport Optics has changed the game with the introduction of their Sport HD IR family of scopes, which are designed to increase accuracy of rimfires. These scopes deliver out-of-the-box 200-yard precision and are designed to be accurate at 9X magnification with ammunition shooting at or near 1,300 fps. Forget memorizing aim points: Yardages are etched directly onto the glass of the reticle. Each scope is also waterproof, shockproof and fog proof.

More Info:

SWAMP SERIES CAMO KNEE BOOTS Gator Outfitters has two styles of athletic rubber boots that provide grip and stability in tough terrain, waterproof protection and a comfortable fit. The insulated Swamp Series Camo Knee Boots were designed for the hunter that wants to keep his feet dry and warm during those cold and wet trips to the deer stand, while the uninsulated version was designed for comfort on warm early season hunts and to easily shed off mud and muck.

More Info:

ROASTED CORN FREAKS Everyone knows that corn is a widely used deer attractant, so Evolved Habitats went a step further and created Roasted Corn Freaks, an innovative attractant packed with twice the protein and three times the fat of plain old corn. Roasted Corn Freaks provides superior nutrition while maintaining an intense aroma and taste that keeps deer coming back for more.

More Info:

BROWNING A5 SHOTGUN Browning has introduced the A5 shotgun with a 3 ½-inch chamber. Five A5 models deliver tight, consistent shot patterns, have a recoil-operated Kinematic Drive system that allows them to cycle a wide range of loads and contain an Inflex II recoil pad to reduce felt recoil. The A5 in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, A5 in Realtree Max4, A5 in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, A5 Stalker and A5 Hunter are available with 26, 28 and 30-inch barrel lengths.

More Info:

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 207

tips & tactics

Garden sprayer can be great washdown Bigger boats often have raw-water washdown capability, but smaller boats have many of the same needs for cleaning up after a fish hits the cockpit deck or just to keep equipment clean. Lots of fishermen keep an empty bucket around for tasks like these; a dip in the water, a splash, and you’re done. Keith Lohr of Burlington, N.C., has a better idea, and it has helped him keep more than just the floor of the cockpit clean. “Fill a new 1- to 21/2-gallon garden sprayer with fresh water to keep with you when you’re boating,” Lohr said. “In saltwater, I spray my reels, the windshield, sonar screen, etc., to keep them clean.” Lohr said he carries the sprayer with him even when he’s fishing from the shoreline — in fresh or salt — so he can give himself a refreshing spray on a hot day. “I write ‘Clean Water Only’ on the sprayer with a Sharpie marker,” Lohr said, to make sure there’s on confusion about what the sprayer contains.

Keep that cork wired Ever been on the water and needed to tie on a popping cork? This tip from Jim Taylor of Morehead City, N.C., is especially helpful if your reel is spooled with braided line, which can be tough to thread through a popping cork because it is limp and tends to coil. “Take about eight to 10 inches of No. 5 Malin fishing wire and bend a small eye in one end,” Taylor said. “Make sure it will fit through the shaft of the cork. Take the braid and run it through the eye and pull the wire through the shaft of the cork. It’s that easy. All that’s left to do is tie on the swivel, leader and lure.”

Got Tips?

Got a nifty hunting or fishing tip or tactic you’d like to share? Just send us the details. Also please send a photo or draw a diagram of your tip or tactic. Include your name, shipping address and telephone number so we can contact you if your tip is chosen.

If we use your tip, we’ll send you a FREE Star Rod*

Arvle Davis’ solution for a loose, rattling trailer hitch is this hex-head bolt that also provides an extra measure of anti-theft security.

Loose, rattling hitch? Tighten ‘er up here If you’ve trailered a boat for any length of time, you’ve probably had to deal with the hitch being a little loose and the ball rattling and moving inside it. Arvle Davis of Asheville, N.C., had had enough one day, and he set out to make sure he had a quiet, secure connection between his trailer and his truck. He said it’s also an added protection against someone stealing your boat, because few thieves would be carrying the wrenches needed to remove it. “Here is a simple way to take the rattle and movement out of your trailer hitch,” Davis said. “You’ll need these items: • 1/2-13 hex head bolt x 11/2 inches long; • 1/2-13 hex nut; • hand drill; • 1/8-inch or any small drill bit; • 27/64-inch drill bit; • 1/2-13 tap; • 3/4-inch wrench; “Start by removing the pin and hitch from the receiver. On the bottom of the receiver, I go back about 11/2 inches — about where the pin is. In the center of the receiver, I start by drilling a hole using a 1/8-inch drill bit for a starter hole, but any small hole will work,” Davis said. “Next, drill the 27/64-inch hole for the tap. Run the the 1/2-13 tap through the hole and replace the hitch and pin. Put the nut on the bolt, screw it up good and tight against the hitch with the 3/4-inch wrench and use the nut to lock it down. “It won’t come loose, and the hitch won’t rattle.”

Mail your Tips & Tactics to: SPORTSMAN TIPS & TACTICS 433 Hollinswood Ave. Winston-Salem, N.C. 27103 or e-mail to: *Manufacturers choice. We’ll get your prize out to you within 8 to 10 weeks. We reserve the right to substitute prizes of equal value.


Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

1548/FL 1448FL

* prices exclude tax, title, license, reg., & dealer set-up

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504-682-5252 December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 209


SCRAPBOOK Darian Mitch

enburg Tiffany Brand

Darian Mitch, 12, of Dulac caught this 1 ½-pound frog that measured 16 ½ inches in mid-June.

Tiffany Brandenburg shot this squirrel with her 12 gauge in Calcasieu Parish. It was only the second day she’s hunted in her life.

t Bradley Chris t Jeremy Talbo

After a slow opening morning being on the lookout, Bradley Christ, who hunts with his uncle and grandpa, finally managed a two-man limit of teal in the rice fields of Evangeline Parish.

Brice Elwell Brice Elwell, 13, of Lafayette and his family took a trip to Wisconsin in early October for a very special hunt set up by his stepmom. Brice was able to bag a buck and a doe within 45 minutes of each other.

eld Drake Burchfi

Jeremy Talbot, 15, of Baton Rouge with his first turkey killed back in March.

Take your camera


Send us your photos, and you may appear on the pages of the most widely read outdoor magazine in the Bayou State.Send clean, sharp shots of you with your deer, ducks, rabbits, squirrels, doves, etc. to

Hunting Scrapbook, Louisiana Sportsman, P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA 70039, or to

ston Kyndall John Kyndall Johnston, 6, killed this deer while hunting with her dad, John Johnston, at their lease in Longville. 210 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Drake Burchfield sits on top the 12 ¾-inch alligator he helped kill on Sept. 7 in Concordia Parish while with Chad Brown, David Everitt and his dad, Brandon Burchfield.

But hang on to the negatives, because the photos cannot be returned.

er Peyton Toom

l Charles Danie

z Cate Delacru & b le a C , le Co

Charles Daniel, 14, of St. Francisville made a perfect broadside shot at 20 yards to take this 10-point with his bow on Oct. 14. The 185-pound buck scored about 130 inches.

Peyton Toomer, 13, of Covington killed this 150-pound 9-point with a bow on Oct. 12 in Savoy.

Chad Dedon

Cole, Caleb and Cate Delacruz enjoyed the youth hunt out of Delacroix with their lab Boudreaux. This 12-foot 2-inch alligator was snagged with a treble hook in St. Gabriel and put up a 20 minute fight for Chad Dedon.

is Nick Bourgeo

ton Douglas Mou

Nick Bourgeois killed this 8-point as it was chasing a doe at his familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s farm in St. Mary Parish.

Douglas Mouton killed his limit of blue-winged teal on Spanish Lake in Iberia Parish. December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 211

hunting regulations


Not an official document. Refer to LDWF’s official hunting regulations pamphlet or




(South Zone)





(North Zone)


Sept. 7 - 15 Oct. 19 - Dec. 1 Dec. 21 - Jan. 6


Dec. 18 - Jan. 31



TEAL (blue-winged, green-winged, cinnamon)

Sept. 14 - Sept. 29




King & Clapper Sora & Virginia

Sept. 7 - 22 Oct. 12 - Nov. 10 Dec. 14 - Jan. 6

Sept. 14 - 29 Sept. 14 - 29

Nov. 9 - Jan. 1 15 Nov. 9 - Jan. 1 25

45 75


Sept. 14 - 29

Nov. 9 - Jan. 1 15



(West Zone)

Nov. 9 - Dec. 15 Dec. 21 - Feb. 28

(East Zone)

(Coastal Zone)

Nov. 9 - Dec. 8 Nov. 2 - Dec. 1 Dec. 14 - Feb. 28 Dec. 14 - Feb. 28



Nov. 16 - Feb. 28




Oct. 5 - Feb. 28




Oct. 5 - Feb. 28 May 3 - 25**

8 3

16 6

*An extended falconry season for ducks, rails and gallinules will take place from Nov. 4 - Feb. 2. **Spring squirrel season is CLOSED on the Kisatchie National Forest, National Wildlife Refuges, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property and some Wildlife Management Areas. WATERFOWL SEASONS

EAST ZONE Nov. 23 - Dec. 8 Dec. 14 - Jan. 26

WEST ZONE Nov. 16 - Dec. 15 Dec. 21 - Jan. 19


Nov. 9 - Dec. 8 Dec. 14 - Jan. 26

Nov. 16 - Dec. 15 Dec. 21 - Feb. 2

Nov. 9 - Dec. 1 Dec. 14 - Feb. 2

DUCKS*, COOTS Nov. 9 - Dec. 1 & MERGANSERS Dec. 14 - Jan. 19 The daily bag limit for ducks is six and may include no more than four mallards (no more than two of which may be females), two pintails, two canvasback, one mottled duck, one black duck, three wood ducks, three scaups and two redheads. Daily bag limit for coots is 15. Daily bag limit for mergansers is five, only two of which may be a hooded mergansers. The merganser limits are in addition to the daily bag limit for ducks. Possession limits for ducks, coots and mergansers is three times the daily bag limit. Youth waterfowl hunts will be held Nov. 9 and Jan. 25 in the West Zone, Nov. 16 and Feb. 1 in the East Zone, and Nov. 2-3 in the Coastal Zone. GEESE (snow, blue, Ross & white-fronted [specklebelly])

CANADA GOOSE SEASON The Canada goose season will run concurrent with the light and white-fronted goose season, but close on Jan. 31 in the West and Coastal Zones (except for a small closure area in SW La.) Daily bag limit for light geese (snow, blue, Ross’) is 20, with no possession limit. The daily bag limit for white-fronted geese is two, with a possession limit of six, however when the Canada goose season is open, the limit on white-fronted and Canada geese will be three per day of which no more than two can be white-fronted. The daily limit for Canada geese is three dark geese of which no more than two can be white-fronted geese. The possession limit is nine for Canada geese. CONSERVATION Dec. 9 - 13 Dec. 16 - 20 Dec. 2 - 13 ORDER FOR Jan. 27 - Mar. 2 Feb. 3 - Mar. 2 Feb. 3 - Mar. 2 LIGHT GEESE Only snow, blue and Ross geese may be taken under the terms of the conservation order, which allows the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns, and eliminates the daily bag and possession limits. Shooting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and extends until one-half hour after sunset. DEER SEASONS


1 Oct. 1 - Jan. 31 2 Oct. 1 - Jan. 31 3 Sept. 21 - Jan. 15 4 Oct. 1 - Jan. 31


(All either-sex, except as noted) Nov. 9 -15 Jan. 20 - 31 Oct. 19 - 25 Jan. 13 - 19 Oct. 12 - 18 Dec. 2 - 6 Nov. 9 - 15, Jan. 20 - 26 Jan. 27 - 31 (bucks only)


(No dogs allowed) (All either-sex, except as noted) Nov. 16 - Dec. 6 Jan. 6 - 19 Oct. 26 - Dec. 3

10 Sept. 21 - Jan. 15 Oct. 12 - 18 Oct. 19 - Dec. 1, Dec. 7 - Jan. 12 (bucks only*)

212 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Dec. 2 - 6 (bucks only)

Dec. 4 - Jan. 12

Oct. 19 - Dec. 1 Dec. 7 - Jan. 12 Nov. 16 - Dec. 6, Jan. 6 - 19 (bucks only*) Nov. 16-17, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, Dec. 7-8, Jan. 11-12, Jan. 18-19 5 Oct. 1 - Jan. 31 Nov. 9 - 15 Dec. 2 - Dec. 22 (bucks only) Dec. 23 - Jan. 4 Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 6 Oct. 1 - 15 (bucks only) Nov. 9 - 15 Nov. 16 - Dec. 6 Oct. 16 - Feb. 15(either-sex) Jan. 20 - 31 7 Oct. 1 - Jan. 31 Oct. 12 - 18 Oct. 19-20, Nov. 16-17, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 Nov. 2 - 8 (bucks only) Oct. 21 - Nov. 1 (bucks only) 8 Sept. 21 - Jan. 15 Oct. 12 - 18 Oct. 19 - Dec. 1 Dec. 2 - 6 9 Oct. 1 - 15 (bucks only) Nov. 9 - 15, Jan. 27 - 31 (bucks only) Nov. 16 - Dec. 6 (bucks only*) Oct. 16 - Feb. 15 (either-sex) Jan. 20 - 26 Nov. 29 - Dec. 1

* Bucks only (unless either-sex season is in progress)


(All either-sex, except as noted) Dec. 7 - Jan. 5

Oct. 19-20, Nov. 9-10, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, Dec. 28-29

Dec. 7 - Jan. 5 (bucks only*) Dec. 14-15, Dec. 21-22, Dec. 28-29, Jan. 4-5

Dec. 7 - Jan. 19 Dec. 2 - Jan. 5 (bucks only*) Dec. 28-29 Dec. 7 - Jan. 12 Dec. 7 - Jan. 19 (bucks only*) Dec. 14-15, Dec. 28-29, Jan. 11-12

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 213

sunrise / sunset Date Sunrise Sunset 1st . . . . . 6:39 a.m. _ _ 5:00 p.m. 2nd . . . . 6:39 a.m. _ _ 5:00 p.m. 3rd. . . . . 6:40 a.m. _ _ 5:00 p.m. 4th. . . . . 6:41 a.m. _ _ 5:00 p.m. 5th. . . . . 6:42 a.m. _ _ 5:00 p.m. 6th. . . . . 6:43 a.m. _ _ 5:00 p.m. 7th. . . . . 6:43 a.m. _ _ 5:01 p.m. 8th. . . . . 6:44 a.m. _ _ 5:01 p.m. 9th. . . . . 6:45 a.m. _ _ 5:01 p.m. 10th. . . . 6:45 a.m. _ _ 5:01 p.m. 11th. . . . 6:46 a.m. _ _ 5:01 p.m. Alexandria Rise/Set +12/+8

Baton Rouge Rise/Set +5/+4

December 2013 Date Sunrise Sunset 12th. . . . 6:47 a.m. _ _ 5:02 p.m. 13th. . . . 6:47 a.m. _ _ 5:02 p.m. 14th. . . . 6:48 a.m. _ _ 5:02 p.m. 15th. . . . 6:49 a.m. _ _ 5:03 p.m. 16th. . . . 6:49 a.m. _ _ 5:03 p.m. 17th. . . . 6:50 a.m. _ _ 5:03 p.m. 18th. . . . 6:50 a.m. _ _ 5:04 p.m. 19th. . . . 6:51 a.m. _ _ 5:04 p.m. 20th. . . . 6:52 a.m. _ _ 5:05 p.m. 21st. . . . 6:52 a.m. _ _ 5:05 p.m. 22nd. . . 6:53 a.m. _ _ 5:06 p.m. Lafayette Rise/Set +8/+7

Date Sunrise Sunset 23rd. . . . 6:53 a.m. _ _ 5:06 p.m. 24th. . . . 6:53 a.m. _ _ 5:07 p.m. 25th. . . . 6:54 a.m. _ _ 5:07 p.m. 26th. . . . 6:54 a.m. _ _ 5:08 p.m. 27th . . . 6:55 a.m. _ _ 5:09 p.m. 28th . . . 6:55 a.m. _ _ 5:09 p.m. 29th. . . . 6:55 a.m. _ _ 5:10 p.m. 30th. . . . 6:56 a.m. _ _ 5:11 p.m. 31st. . . . 6:56 a.m. _ _ 5:11 p.m. *Time based on New Orleans, sunrise/sunset; source U.S. Naval Observatory. Corrections (in minutes)

Lake Charles Rise/Set +13/+12

Monroe Rise/Set +10/+5

Shreveport Rise/Set +17/+13

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214 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

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Our host, Greg Hackney, BASS Elite Pro and hunting enthusiast, continues to travel throughout Louisiana exploring all of the hunting and fishing opportunities the state has to offer. Catch all of the action on Cox Sports Television.

December 5 . . . . Tony’s Chenier Duck Hunt - Houma, LA December 12 . . . Redfish Bownanza - Dularge, LA December 19 . . . Babes In the Woods - Northwest Mississippi December 26 . . . Deer Management with Dave Moreland

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 215

astro tables

Send to: PrimeTimes 2013 • Dept. LS • P.O. Box 395 • Ankeny, IA 50021 For credit/debit card orders, call toll-free 866-809-5063.

For more information and samples of PrimeTimes products, visit our web site:

2013 DEC



information-packed, full-color, 11-inch by 17-inch, graphic peaks -and-valleys forecaster. Includes rise and set times for the sun and moon, space to log your catches, “Timely Tips,” plus fish and game symbols showing you each month’s don’t-miss periods. Also includes exclusive summary charts revealing the best and worst days of 2013, the year’s best periods, a look ahead at 2014, and more. Comes with FREE 2013 Astro Tables pocket calendar, which sells separately for $7.95, plus $3 s&h. Book: “How to Know When to Go” by Rick Taylor. $14.95 (plus $4 s&h). 100 pages, 43 illustrations. A comprehensive look at the main factors influencing fish and game activity periods, plus how to devise an effective when-to-go game plan using any year’s PrimeTimes calendars. Individual assessments of bass, panfish, deer, turkey, and more. 2013 Ultimate PrimeTimes software for PCs. $29.95 (plus $3 s&h, or no s&h if downloaded from web). The world’s best forecaster allows you to fine-tune the peak times to your exact location, quarry, and even weather. Too many features to list here, including making your own App. For more details, please call us or visit our web site (see below). SPECIAL PACKAGE OFFERS: #1: Wall Calendar, Astro Tables and “How to Know...” book.... $19.95 (plus $5 s&h). #2: Same as #1, plus Software...$46.95 (plus $6 s&h). #3: Same as #2, minus book...$37.95 (plus $5 s&h).


Astro Tables is far more effective than “moon tables,” because it takes into account critical solar energies as well as lunar. • The “Best Days” column is based on the ever-changing positions of the sun and the moon, rating each day on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the number, the more solar/lunar influence that day is experiencing (see “Value” column or corresponding black bars). • The two Primary periods (Moon Overhead and Moon Underfoot) vary in length from one hour to three-and-onehalf hours, depending on a number of important lunar cycles, such as how close the moon is to the earth that day and how high its orbit is. The solar symbols alert you to when a Primary period overlaps a major solar period (eg: Dawn, High-Noon, and Dusk). The secondary periods of Moonrise and Moonset last about one hour each...30 minutes before and after the listed time. (See key at bottom of each month for more detail.) • Astro Tables is a quick-reference version of its parent publication, the PrimeTimes Wall Calendar, which is recommended for those wishing more complete data on the best days and times to go fishing and hunting for the entire year (see “Available Products” below). • PrimeTimes’ forecasts are based on solar/lunar research at a leading college of astrophysics and our own research pond/ wildlife area. Annual data is supplied by the U.S. Naval Observatory. All times are adjusted to the center of your time zone and for Daylight Saving Time. AVAILABLE PRODUCTS: The 2013 PrimeTimes Wall Calendar. $12.95 (plus $4 s&h). Know the best days, best times, and their relative strengths for all of 2013 with this

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

51 56 46 37 27 23 24

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

8 9 10 11 12 13 14

30 42 33 28 29 30 40

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

15 16 17 18 19 20 21

50 59 63 52 42 31 25

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

22 23 24 25 26 27 28

25 24 28 36 25 19 19

Sun 29 Mon 30 Tue 31

29 40 51 25 50 75 AVERAGE

For more, visit





5:23 am 6:30 am 7:35 am 8:35 am 9:29 am 10:17 am 11:00 am 11:39 am 12:15 pm 12:50 pm 1:25 pm 2:01 pm 2:39 pm 3:20 pm 4:04 pm 4:51 pm 5:40 pm 6:32 pm 7:25 pm 8:19 pm 9:13 pm 10:07 pm 11:03 pm 11:59 pm 12:57 am 1:58 am 3:01 am 4:06 am 5:11 am 10:28 pm 6:14 am

10:10 am - 11:262 am 11:13 am - 12:21 pm 12:16 pm - 1:22 pm 1:17 pm - 2:25 pm 2:13 pm - 3:31 pm 3:05 pm - 4:33 pm 3:53 pm - 5:35 pm

5:03 pm 6:04 pm 7:10 pm 8:18 pm 9:27 pm 10:34 pm

4:36 pm - 6:34 pm 5:17 pm - 7:33 pm 5:58 pm - 8:28 pm 6:37 pm - 9:23 pm 7:20 pm - 10:16 pm 8:03 pm - 11:09 pm 8:48 pm - 12:00 am

11:38 pm

9:33 pm - 12:53 am 10:22 pm - 1:42 am 11:12 pm - Midnight Midnight - 2:28 am 12:01 am - 3:13 am 12:52 am - 3:54 am 1:42 am - 4:34 am

5:32 am

2:30 am - 5:12 am 3:19 am - 5:49 am 4:10 am - 6:26 am 5:03 am - 7:01 am 5:55 am - 7:41 am 6:51 am - 8:23 am 7:49 am - 9:11 am 8:51 am - 10:03 am 9:53 am - 11:01 am 10:55 am - 12:03 pm


MOON SET 4:08 pm

12:41 am 1:42 am 2:42 am 3:40 am 4:37 am

6:24 am 7:13 am 7:58 am 8:39 am 9:16 am 9:51 am 10:24 am 10:55 am 11:27 am 11:59 am 12:34 pm 1:12 pm 1:55 pm 2:45 pm 3:42 pm 4:45 pm


10:35 pm - 11:51 pm 11:38 pm - Midnight Midnight - 12:46 am 12:41 am - 1:47 am 1:42 am - 2:50 am 2:38 am - 3:56 am 3:30 am - 4:58 am

New Low Perigee

4:18 am - 6:00 am 5:01 am - 6:59 am 5:42 am - 7:58 am 6:23 am - 8:53 am 7:02 am - 9:48 am 7:45 am - 10:41 am 8:28 am - 11:34 am 9:13 am - 12:25 pm 9:58 am - 1:18 pm 10:47 am - 2:07 pm 11:37 am - 2:53 pm 12:26 pm - 3:38 pm 1:17 pm - 4:19 pm 2:07 pm - 4:59 pm


High Full Apogee Winter

2:55 pm - 5:37 pm 3:44 pm - 6:14 pm 4:35 pm - 6:51 pm 5:28 pm - 7:26 pm 6:20 pm - 8:06 pm 7:16 pm - 8:48 pm 8:14 pm - 9:36 pm


9:16 pm - 10:28 pm 10:18 pm - 11:26 pm 11:20 pm - Midnight



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Store Hours: Mon thru Sat 7 - 7, Sun 4 - 12 December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 217

tide guides

How to use the SPORTSMAN Tide Guide



Fish feed most actively when the tide is moving. Louisiana Sportsman has made it simple to spot the most-active feeding periods each day in the Tide Guide. Just fish those times indicated in black. To find the best time to fish your favorite honeyhole, find the spot under Tide Corrections that is closest to the area, and add or subtract the time from the corresponding daily prediction. SUNDAY

Calcasieu Pass, Lighthouse Wharf HIGH LOW Cote Blanche Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +4:33 . . . . +3:40 Eugene Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:49 . . . . . -0:39 Lighthouse Point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:58 . . . . . -0:53 Mermentau River ent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:20 . . . . +0:25 Point Au Fer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:53 . . . . . -1:02 Point Chevreul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +3:16 . . . . +0:30 Rabbit Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:01 . . . . . -0:36 Shell Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +3:08 . . . . +0:45 South Point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:55 . . . . . -0:33 Southwest Pass, Vermillion Bay . . . . . . . . . +1:42 . . . . +0:51 Weeks Bay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +3:58 . . . . +3:56 218 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Order the Tide Guides for over 40 locations throughout Louisiana. Call 1-800-538-4355 or go on line

Calcasieu Pass Lighthouse Wharf

East Point, Grand Isle HIGH LOW Barataria Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:00 . . . . . -0:10 Bastian Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:41 . . . . +0:12 Bay Gardene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:51 . . +2:44 Bayou BonFouca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +9:59 . . . +10:11 Breton Islands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:54 . . . . +0:48 Caillou Boca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:40 . . . . +0:48 Caminada Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:20 . . . . +0:12 Chandeleur Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:37 . . . . +0:34 Chef Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +5:17 . . . +5:07 Cocodrie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:22 . . . . +1:33 Comfort Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:34 . . . . +0:54 Delacroix Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +3:42 . . . . +3:31 Empire Jetty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -1:03 . . . . . -1:45 Four Bayou Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:18 . . . . +0:17 Gardner Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:40 . . . . +0:47 Grand Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:48 . . . . +1:16 Head of Passes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0:48 . . . . +0:00 Hopedale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +4:17 . . . . +4:56 Independence Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:29 . . . . +1:59 Jack Bay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:59 . . . . +1:28 Joseph Bayou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0:36 . . . . . -1:37 Lafitte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:45 . . . +2:51 Long Point, Lake Borgne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:28 . . . . +2:11 Manila Village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:32 . . . . +3:13 Michoud Substation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +5:24 . . . . +5:02 New Canal (Bucktown) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +10:34 . . . +10:49 North Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0:31 . . . . . -0:37 Paris Road Bridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +5:53 . . . . +5:58 Pelican Islands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2:26 . . . . +2:26 Pointe a la Hache . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +3:12 . . . . +3:01 Port Eads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0:17 . . . . . -1:37 Raccoon Point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0:03 . . . . . -0:20 Shell Beach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +4:32 . . . . +4:25 Ship Shoal Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -1:54 . . . . . -1:50 South Pass, Miss. R. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -1:13 . . . . . -1:20 Southwest Pass, Miss. R. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -0:38 . . . . - 1:33 Tchefuncte River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +10:23 . . . +11:01 Timbalier Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +0:19 . . . +0:23 Wine Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1:08 . . . . +1:02


East Point Grand Isle

Tide Corrections

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 221

Forecast Index 224 226 233 237 240 241 243

Toledo Bend Southeast Southcentral Southwest Central Northeast Northwest



Clear water key to Lake Cataouatche bite


William Tichenor of Luling with a gaspergou caught using earthworms on the bottom at one of the cuts in Lake Cataouatche.

fishing trip was set up to Lake Cataouatche after running into Luling’s William Tichenor at a local grocery store. William had purchased a used G3 rigged with a 25-horsepower electric start and wanted to learn Lake Cataouatche. We agreed to meet at Pier 90 the next day. William showed up with a very neat and compact G3 boat rigged with trolling motor, depth finder and fixed seats to allow two fishermen to fish comfortably. Tichenor is the great-grandson of the famous Dr. George H. Tichenor, who invented the original Dr. Tichenor antiseptic formula during the Civil War and later founded the Dr. G.H. Tichenor Company in New Orleans. After leaving Pier 90, we traveled down Bayou Verret and Sellers Canal to Lake Cataouatche. When we reached the lake, we headed west to the last cut before the Louisiana Cypress Canal. The Davis Pond Diversion had been running around 1,200 cfs and was on a slowing stage, pulsing water through the diversion. We caught the water almost at a standstill in the afternoon. With a slight current, we dropped the anchor on the lake side of the cut and fished with the current. Our rods were rigged Carolina style with ½-ounce weights, No. 4 catfish hooks and earthworms. “This is easy fishing at it’s best,” Tichenor said. Within minutes of setting out the lines, a familiar tap-tap-tap was felt and he set the hook. William reeled in an under-sized gaspergou, a first cousin to saltwater black drum. The creel limit is 25 per day, and minimum length of 12 inches. Catching 10-inch gaspergous and throwing them back, we decided to find clear water in the Louisiana Cypress Canal in search for bass and

222 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Tyler Hatrel

Bruce McDonald

sac-a-lait. We found clear water at the corner of the West Canal and began fishing. We did not catch anything, so our attention returned to catfish. It took about 30 minutes to catch seven nice blue channel catfish on earthworms before we called it a day. “The canals are beautiful, and having protective water to fish on windy days is great,” Tichenor said. “I definitely will be back. I have enough fish for a fish fry.”

Lake Cataouatche

Largemouth bass, bream, sac-a-lait, goggle-eyes, chinquapin, catfish, hybrid bass, gaspergou, choupique and redfish have been caught when clear water can be found. Best baits have been watermelon/red and june bug Baby Brush Hogs, 4-inch swim baits in green/ white and black/white rigged with ¼-ounce jigheads, Booyah white/chartreuse gold teardrop spinnerbaits, and ¼-ounce chromeand-gold floating Rat-L-Trap. Sac-a-lait like mini jigs in red/whites/chartreuse, black/chartreuse, blue/whitem black/white and blue/chartreuse under corks along the bulkheads and Louisiana Cypress Canal.

Lake Salvador

Good locations in Lake Salvador have been at the mouth of the Gulf Canal to the Old Oak Tree in Bayou Couba, the interior ponds and canals of the Lake Salvador Management Area, the rocks along the mouth of Bayou Des Allemands, Grosse Point, Temple Bay, Little Catahoula, the south shoreline stumps, the mouth of Bayou Perrot, Bayou Villares, the Christmas tree line, on the eastern shore line, Bayou Bardeaux and Lucky Seven. The hottest bait to use has been a ¼-ounce chrome/black or gold/black Rat-L-Trap, Deadly Dudley’s New Moon Terror Tail under a cork and tuxedo pearl cocahoe with a gold spinner. ■

When it gets cold, head for the canals Southcentral guide sticks with productive soft plastics

Lagniappe, according to one veteran charter boat captain, was the fact that speckled trout going into the ice chest were getting bigger in the Dularge area he fishes. “Last week we had a trip where we didn’t have a limit but caught two 5-pounders,” Houma’s Gerald Ellender said the first week of November, noting those big speckled trout “made the day” for his client. Ellender, who owns Light Tackle Charters, shared some of his speckled trout fishing expertise recently with Rusty Tardo, an outdoor writer who wrote a feature story for Louisiana Sportsman. “We didn’t have a great day. We caught 35 trout. The day before, we caught 100 with another group,” Ellender said, noting he fought high winds the day he went out with Tardo. “That’s one thing we don’t have any control over — the weather.” Ellender said he has been using a 2-inch-long Sparkle Beetle 18 inches under a popping cork to catch the majority of his fish, including bull reds up to 45 inches long that are cooperative on those days when it’s difficult to draw a bead on the speckled trout. He plans to ride that productive soft plastic until the fish get off of it, if they do. He’s fishing either a chartreuse/red dot or glow/red dot Sparkle Beetle under a 3-inch-long popping cork on a 1/16-ounce leadhead with a short-shank hook. Instead of a 40-pound-test leader, he uses 30-pound line. “That’s really been working for us. I find the size of the fish doesn’t depend on the size of the bait,” he said, noting most of the speckled trout are averaging 16 to 22 inches long, with some much bigger. Other proven soft plastics have been natural, golden and pink tint Vudu Shrimp and chartreuse, clear or Cajun pepper Shiney Hineys. Ellender was looking forward to the time around Thanksgiving and leading up to New Year’s Day. “I think we’ll have an excellent December,” he said. Where to go? Ellender said when it’s very cold anglers should head for the canals, namely those dead-ends along Deer Bayou and along Bayou Seveur, including the main bayou itself, and Raccassi Bayou. “I think in December the fish will be back at the end of the

David A. Brown

Don Shoopman

Looking for some trout action? Head to the dead-end canals in the Dularge area, where artificials will produce plenty of action. canals, and they don’t have to be 10 feet deep,” he said. Those areas are prime spots because baitfish — different kinds of minnows — gang up in there and the speckled trout follow. So Ellender will offer those speckled trout a swim bait, but he’ll also have a popping cork at the ready. The key is to find the baitfish and fish 2-inch soft plastics s-l-o-w-l-y along the bottom. On warm days — those Indian Summer days when the high gets into the 60s and 70s, thus warming the water temperature into the 50s — go to the reefs in Lake Mechant and Sister Lake, paying particular attention to Goose Bay and the points when the water’s falling and the baitfish are plentiful. Another wintertime hotspot could be Lake DeCade, which “turned on” earlier than usual. The lake near Falgout Canal has been giving up speckled trout since early October in the big cove on the south end and the breaks in the marsh on the north and northwest side. If it’s too cold to catch speckled trout, redfish can be caught in the same places, Ellender said. For redfish, top producers without a doubt have been ½- or ¼-ounce gold spoons (the clearer the water, the smaller the spoon) and spinnerbaits with a Stanley Bayou Chub in purple/ gold, black/chartreuse or chicken-on-a-chain.

Got pics? Send ‘em in! Record breaker or a simple guppy, we want to hear (see) from you.

Send us pictures of your big catch and you may be featured in Louisiana Sportsman’s Fishing Forecast. All images will be considered, but those taken on the water will have the best chance of being featured. Photos may be color or black & white. We prefer digital* but prints and slides will also be accepted.

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 223

fishing forecast

David A. Brown

Toledo Bend

Throw something they can’t resist Shallow-water bass bite dominate in December


John Dean

major cold front on the last day of October significantly changed the landscape — well, the water body — of Toledo Bend. Why? Rain and plenty of it accompanied that early cold front. An estimated 4 ½ to 7 ½ inches of rain pelted most of the region on Halloween. Creeks flooded in Many and Zwolle, prompting authorities to close the roads. I think the lake level will jump big time because of the influx of runoff. I’ve seen it come up as much as 3 or 4 feet in floods like this, and it probably will this time. By the time you read this, there could — I emphasize could — be some water in the bushes. The pool stage going when I wrote this column was 167.55. It’s been pretty steady, as we haven’t had many major rain events — until this late-October front. The short-term, very short-term, effect is that the bass bite will slow or shut down with the hard rise and the drop of 1 or 2 degrees in water temperature because of all the rainwater. We got hammered, I ain’t kidding you. And air temperatures were plummeting. Weather forecasts out of Shreveport called for an overnight low to get down to about 39 degrees. Talk about a turnaround. It’s been a pretty mild fall up to now. Bass fishing has been fair to good with the average water temperature in the low to middle 70s. The bass bite in shallow water was the most consistent, with the bass striking spinnerbaits, plastic frogs and Rat-L-Traps worked in and around grass beds. As more and more cold fronts roar through the area with their wind and rain, the bass bite becomes more aggressive. That bite should get better as the water temperature cools, an annual occurrence. After this front, I really believe the shallow-water bite won’t be affected adversely at all — with the exception of the days of a cold front’s passage. As always, bassin’ success should be best two or three days before and, for sure, two or three days after. More than likely, the bite will be up and down, mostly good on those days in the good window, avoiding the high pressure. In short, you have to choose your days. Once the weather stabilizes, the shallow-water bite gets better and better. I really don’t know if water will be in the bushes soon. But I do know from experience that, with rising water, bass move up — depending, of course, on how muddy the water might be. The back ends of creeks probably will be discolored a lot after this deluge, so stay away from that water and focus on green water as much as possible.

Bass should be working the shallows between fronts, and lures like frogs and jerk baits should attract attention from these feeding fish. Overall, December should be pretty strong. It’s a month that can very easily be as dominant as October has been. When January comes around, that’ll be a different story, with most of the bass hitting spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. For latter November and through December — barring repetitive arctic cold fronts — jerk baits, wacky worms, plastic frogs, spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps ought to be as good in December as November. Those horizontal artificial lures, the ones that migratory bass can’t resist, are hard to beat when you’re fishing a bunch of grass and a good inside grass line. Chrome/blue and sexy shad will be in vogue, but crawfish patterns (oranges, reds, golds) will come into play the later it gets in the year. Patterns naturally will change when Old Man Winter makes his presence felt with arctic blasts. That could happen in late, late December and early January, which means you should turn to spoons and drop-shot rigs. But that winter pattern will be short-lived, and before we know it we’ll be doing pre-prespawn patterns and getting ready for the promise of spring. Crappie fishermen, who have been encountering very, very slow days, are hopeful arctic blasts come through and push the fish into the main river channel. Best bet right now is to fish sunken brush piles with minnows around underwater structure in 22- to 26-foot depths until crappie move into the river in late December or January, water and weather conditions permitting. Hundreds of crappie anglers, from residents and out-of-state neighbors to “snowbirds,” are counting on the crappie to congregate in perennial hotspots such as the Chicken Coop on the Texas side of the river just north of Pendleton Bridge. If you want to go bass fishing, I have been guiding for years on Toledo Bend. Call 936-404-2688 or 800-256-2075. ■




Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 225


fishing forecast

December delights This is the last month of the year to catch some fish, so get busy


Rusty Tardo

t’s hard to believe we’re winding up another year. It was a year without hurricanes or oil spills, so there’s that to be thankful for. And if you are a fisherman, this month usually gives up a lot of trout and redfish. We do get fronts blowing through more consistently, so you have to pick your days. And the air and water temperatures fall, so you have to dress for the damp and chilly outdoors. But the boat rides are much shorter, the fall speck action is outstanding throughout the marshes and the redfish are eager to smash your baits along shorelines everywhere, so there’s that to be thankful for, too. And the cooler weather means you don’t have to fish sleep deprived; you can press the snooze button, stay in the sack a little later and still not miss the best fishing action. So there’s that to be thankful for, as well. In fact, we have so much to be thankful for here in Southeast Louisiana where we enjoy the best fishing in the world that maybe we ought to move Thanksgiving to December. If you want to get some fishing in before 2013 ends, here’s the very latest word on where to start:


Capt. Chris REO Wilson (504-289-1764) said offshore anglers will have a blast catching wahoo this month, which have been plentiful, nice-sized and aggressive. “My buddy had one hit a sibiki rig and strip out all his line in 125 feet of water,” he said. “That’s how close in and aggressive they are right now.” Wilson said he’ll troll the various structures in 125 feet of water on out for the marauding wahoo. He added that you can fish behind shrimp boats for both yellowfin and blackfin tuna. “The tuna are pretty close in, and you should be able to start catching them this month just drifting the Lump,” Wilson said. “We had a tremendous few weeks of tuna action just seven miles off the pass when the mullet were moving out. The tuna were crushing the mullet and we were catching one big tuna after another, but schools of huge sharks swarmed in and they would tear our tuna to shreds before we could get them in the boat. We were landing on average one out of seven. The sharks got the rest.” Wilson said this will also be a good month for amberjacks and groupers at rigs in 200 to 400 feet of water. Inshore, Capt. Owen “Big O” Langridge (225-978-1136) said anglers have been having a blast catching trout and redfish in the river system. “The river is low and the Corps predicts it’ll stay that way for a while, so I’ll be fishing the river system for these speckled 226 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Whitney Moody caught this nice redfish out of Delacroix while fishing with Capt. Eddie Castaing. trout,” he said. “The trout aren’t quite as big as they were last year, when they averaged 17 to 20 inches. This year it’s more like 14 to 17 inches, but (that’s) still very respectable fish and (they’re) very plentiful. Maybe in December we’ll see some bigger fish in the mix. “Right now I’m fishing under a cork in shallow water, and anything in pink is the best bait. The electric chicken color also has been very productive.” Langridge said when you fish deeper water ­—10 feet or more — you’ll need heavier jigheads rigged in tandem. “I’ll use two 3/8-ounce jigheads, and I’ll use a LSU color on the bottom rig and either a live shrimp or a different-colored plastic on the top, and I often catch them two at a time that way,”

he said. “Be sure to tie your jigs at least 15 inches apart if you want to double up your catch.” Langridge said redfish have been pretty big and pretty thick in the river system, but they’ve become more scarce as of late. “We’re catching them in the outer bays right now in good numbers and sizes,” he said. “And who knows: Maybe they’ll move back into the river this month.” Best redfish bait: market shrimp under a cork in shallow water, a 3/8-ounce jig with market shrimp or a LSU plastic tipped with shrimp. The jetties at South and Southwest passes should be holding some bull reds, and dead shrimp fished on the bottom will get the bite.

Empire/Buras/Port Sulphur

According to Capt. Jody Donewar (504-453-1519), the fish are inside and plentiful. “The river just didn’t turn on this year like it did last year, even though the water level is low,” he said. “We did catch some fish but never with any consistency. But the action is excellent on the west side right now from Empire to Buras, and on the east side from California Point over to Pointe a la Hache. The key is to fish between the fronts.” Donewar said the best action comes three or four days after a front passes through and before the next one arrives, and live bait (if available) or market bait is the best bet, but plastics will produce also. “I like the LSU color or black/ chartreuse, tightlined on a ¼-ounce jig,” he said. “Work the flats on milder days and the deeper canals when it’s cold.”

Six-year-old Koen Stewart Navarre caught this redfish using market shrimp on a treble hook while fishing with his grandfather, Mack Stewart, off of Lake Borgne.


Myrtle Grove

Capt. Dave Marino (504-6568192) said the fall fishing has been outstanding this year, with plenty of trout showing up in the Myrtle Grove area. “The areas and technique this month will depend heavily on how cold it gets,” Marino said. “If we have milder temperatures, we will keep fishing under a cork with the 3-inch, white Berkley Gulp!, and areas like Bay Round, Bay Laurier, Bay 5, Airplane Bay and Bay Cray will continue to produce nice catches. >>>



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fishing forecast


Brothers Jonathan (left) and Chris Howard had a blast catching their limits of reds on gold spoons while sight fishing in the Biloxi Marsh. “Later in the month, the water temperatures usually drop, and that means the trout will move into the deeper water. Try in the Wilkinson Canal from the marina to the pumps. The fish will usually fall for twin chartreuse beetles; just cast out and give them a little time to sink before slowly retrieving. Remember to set the hook when you feel a slight tap on the line, because the bite will be much more subtle this time of the year.”


The word from Joe over at Joe’s Landing (800-547-6501) is that the trout have moved in, and they are thick and hungry. “Redfish are everywhere — just about anywhere you want to fish, and the trout action has been great so December should be an outstanding month,” he said. Joe said the best action is coming from the south end of Little Lake, Plum Point, Coffee Bayou, Brusle Lake, Bay L’Ours and Bay Round. “Lake Salvador is producing both reds and specks, and the Pen has been pretty good,” he said. “It should only get better. These fish have moved in, and they’re here to stay throughout the winter.” Joe said the live shrimp are all but gone, but he does have live cocohoes and market shrimp — and he has plenty of the hot selling VuDu shrimp, which has been producing reds and specks when fished under a cork. “All the canals are holding fish right now, too, as the trout are moving deeper as the cold fronts chill the water down,” he said.

Delacroix Island/Reggio/ Pointe a la Hache

Capt. Chris Pike (504-427-4973) said the trout action has been phenomenal in Delacroix Island, and if the weather doesn’t get nasty this month it should be fantastic. “Everybody should catch fish this month in all their favorite places,” he said. “The trout are just everywhere. Pick your spot, and drift and cast a live shrimp under a cork, and you should start filling your box in no time.” 228 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Pike said the best fishing has been from Grand Lake, Lake Batola, Lake Fausan, Pointe Fienne, Bay Jack Nevette, Four Horse Lake, Lost Flat and Oak River. “The deeper bayous off the Twin Pipelines have been good, too, around Lake John and the mouth of Four Horse,” he said. “There’s still so much live shrimp in the marsh that you really have to bring live shrimp with you because that’s what the trout are feeding on. “But I am catching fish on plastics, too. The Matrix Shad in creole shrimp and lemonhead have been real productive fished 3 feet under a cork in shallow water on a ¼-ounce jighead, or tightlined in deeper water on a 3/8-ounce jighead.” Pike said redfish action is best around Round Lake, Lost Flat and Pointe Fienne where the water is slightly deeper and cleaner. Live or market shrimp fished close to the shorelines at points and cuts with moving water will attract bites.

Shell Beach/Hopedale

Robert Campo, over at Campo’s Marina in Shell Beach (504239-5165) said if the weather remains mild the fishing action will be incredible. “Usually, December is a lot like November,” he said. “The air and water temperatures gradually begin to fall as we get more cold fronts from up north. But normally our Decembers are pretty mild. That doesn’t mean this year won’t be an exception, but if it stays mild the phenomenal trout and redfish action we’ve had in October and November will continue.” Campo said the Ship Channel has been extremely productive “between the walls,” that is, from the Great Wall in Chalmette all the way to the dam in Hopedale. “And the Biloxi Marsh has been excellent,” he said. “From Stump Lagoon on up into Mussel Bay, Pete’s Lagoon, Bob’s Lakes, Bayou Maroon — that whole area is producing trout and reds. Fish the bank for reds and fish out for specks. Live shrimp will get the bite every time.” Campo said he expects the marina to have live shrimp throughout the month of December.


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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 229


fishing forecast


“Redfish action has been real good all over the interior, in the ponds off Bayou Sue and St. Malo, in Magnolia Lagoon and Bayou Muscelini and Bayou Guyago,” he said. “Pick a point or a cut and soak a shrimp.”


Dee Higginbotham caught this 27-pound Grand Isle bull red on cut bait in Camanada Pass.

Capt. George Ricks (985-630-2923) said when you think of December in Caernarvon and Delacroix, you can’t help but think “redfish!” “The marshes this time of year seem to be teeming with the bronze spot-tails, and they are tearing up baits around Grand Lake, Little Lake and Lake Batola,” he said. “All the usual coolerweather spots are holding bunches of reds right now.” Ricks recommended working points that are near deeper water when the weather is mild, and when the thermometer plummets move to the drop-offs in deeper channels. Best baits are Hybrids on 3/8-ounce jigheads or dead shrimp under corks. “Speckled trout are up in the shallow bays this month, and along ledges and drop-offs in deeper water,” Ricks said. “The same baits work for trout “And remember: For the reds, the colder the better.”

Bayou Bienvenue

Jimmy Dixon over at Bait Inc. (504-277-3755) said the fishing action has been excellent for the last couple months, and December should even be better.

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Jude St. Romain landed this 4 ½-pound gafftop this summer while fishing out of Fouchon with Cajun Made Charters. “We’re launching a lot of boats, and everybody seems to be coming back with fish,” he said. “It’s good to see fishermen coming back to the dock with smiles on their faces. Dixon said the action has been great on both trout and reds, and that the flounder action is really kicking off, too. “They’re catching fish all along the ICW, at the Wall, at the Violet Locks, along the MRGO rocks near the Castle and around what’s left of the Castle, at Bayou Thomas and at Third Island Bayou, and it’ll turn on this month around the Hot Water Canal and in the Pen,” he said. “It’s good all over right now.” Dixon said Proctor’s Point is holding some reds, and the mouth of Bayou Bienvnue at Lake Borgne is producing specks and some reds. Seabrook has produced some good fish, also. Best baits are live and market shrimp fished under corks or on sliding sinkers. Soft plastics under corks or bounced off the bottom should also put fish in the boat.


According to Capt. Mike Gallo (985-7817811), by December we should have water temperatures falling into the 50s, and that means specks will be firmly settled into their winter patterns. “Look for areas with little water movement when looking for winter speckled trout,” he said. “Areas along the MRGO and the ICW,

Geohegan’s Canal, Lake Shore Estates, Eden Isles and Venetian Isles have all been productive this time of year, and this month should be no exception.” Gallo said the cold water will make the trout sluggish, so be sure to slow down your presentation and fish slow on the bottom. “I usually fish a 3/8-ounce Golden Eye Jig with a Deadly Dudley in opening night or avocado color,” he said. “When water temperatures are 56 or lower I fish slow on the bottom, and when water temperatures are above 56 degrees I fish current lines with a popping cork or on the bottom. “And there’s no need to fish the crack of dawn: Let the sun warm things up a bit, and target areas of shallow water that are near deeper water. As the water warms, fish will move into shallow water to feed. Look for baitfish activity, and work all levels of the water column.” Gallo said redfish will continue to feed normally this month and live or market shrimp fished under popping corks close to grass lines will get the “Copper Whopper” on your line. “Golden Eye Spinners, Johnson Spoons and weedless jerk baits will work, also,” he said.

Lake Pontchartrain

Chas Champagne over at Dockside Marina (985-707-2105) said he’ll focus largely on the marshes around the Chef and along Alligator Point this month. >>> December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 231


fishing forecast


“The bridges over the lake will produce some big trout this monh — but probably not a whole lot of them,” he said. “You won’t likely go there and catch a whole bunch of fish, but what you do catch will be big.” And while the trout action never really kicked off this season, drum, redfish, sheepshead and flounder action should be good. “Live shrimp on a Carolina rig is the ticket,” Champagne said. “If you fish the bridges for trout, the best bait has been the ultra-violet Matrix Shad on a 3/8-ounce Golden-eye jighead. In the marsh you can use the same bait and jighead in the 5/16-ounce size. “I do expect the big trout to make their usual December run along the Causeway this month. These fish usually run between 2 to 4 pounds, and the same bait and jig in the 3/8-ounce size will work well there if you jig along the legs of the bridge or you can troll and drag MirrOlures and Rat-L-Traps with trailers.”

On his first Grand Isle fishing trip with his dad, Rick, 5-year-old Clay Ritchey caught his first speck all by himself.

Eric Brewton was fishing in Hopedale with friends John Berry and Brian Trosclair when this redfish slammed his topwater.

Golden Meadow/ Larose/Leeville

According to Capt. T-Man Cheramie (985-6776294), this is the time to start fishing slower, and as the weather chills down the slower you fish. “We focus now on fishing deeper water in the interior, in bayous and holes and dead-end canals,” he said. “You can dribble your bait along the bottom or fish it along ledges and drop-offs. Live cocohoes and market shrimp will be the most-productive baits, so I always recommend you bring some along, but plastics will usually produce, also. “On warmer days, fish under a cork around points with good water and over reefs and flats, and those live minnows will be irresistible to both trout and reds.” Cheramie said the Sulphur Mine area and the Pointe-AuxChenes Canal should be hot. “Remember: If it’s cold do not worry about going early,” he said. “Enjoy that extra sleep and fish between noon till dark for the best action.”

Fourchon/Grand Isle

Capt. Herk Bergeron (985-860-7855) said this is the month we really start to see cold fronts push through and drain the shallow ponds and bays into the deeper cuts and run-outs of the main canals and bayous in the marshes north of Grand Isle. “Lots of bait gets swept through those run-outs right into the feeding zones of awaiting redfish and speckled trout,” he said. “I key in on the wider cuts and drains from the marsh, especially on stronger tides. But on days with weak tides, then you want to fish the narrow drains from the marsh, which will capitalize on even the slightest movement of water.” Herk said trout are not nearly as aggressive in colder weather so they will concentrate at drains holding bait.

232 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

“I look for slow-moving water in the colder months for trout,” he said. “Redfish action only gets better in winter, and sight fishing, fly fishing, kayak fishing and topwater action all cranks up this month, for some real shallow-water thrills. The best times to go are just before the cold fronts arrive and mess up the water. Two days after the front is also good. “Keep in mind those redfish will get up in shallow ponds that you would never believe a fish would be in. I have every rod in my boat set at 12 inches to 16 inches deep under a cork, with 50-pound-test leader and a 4/0 kahle hook. I’ll use live minnows and toss the bait up near the shore from 1 to 5 feet from the bank. Keep a good grip on your rod because you will get an explosion.” Offshore, Capt. Kenny Heikamp (985-817-0117) said he’ll be chasing tuna and wahoo this month. “Wahoo are moving closer in as the weather cools, and we’ll troll for them around structures like rigs and buoys in 125 to 300 feet of water,” he said. “Amberjack and grouper are hitting baits at the various rigs and rock piles in 200 to 400 feet of water, and both blackfin and yellowfin tuna are hitting baits behind the offshore shrimp trawlers. “It’s shaping up to be a real good month.” ■


fishing forecast

Wishing the cold fronts away

Cypremort Point anglers hope trout bite continues through winter Don Shoopman


hat will the speckled trout fishing be like in and around Vermilion Bay during the last days of November and through December? Will they bite through the first part of winter and beyond, as they have done at times in the past? It all depends on the weather, specifically Old Man Winter and the frequency of the cold fronts he sends through Acadiana. If the region gets those weather systems bam-bam, back-to-back — especially with a bunch of rain accompanying each one — it’ll be time to put up the fishing rods and think about next year. That’s the word from Lydia’s Todd Semar, who has fished the area all of his life. For sure, no matter the weather, the speckled trout bite will be “a little tougher.” “You have to slow down a lot to catch speckled trout on soft plastics in the winter,” said Semar, who operates Bulls-Eye Charters out of Cypremort Point. “If we get fronts back to back, it’ll be tough to catch in the area, except for a few spots that might be secluded. It depends on how fast (the fronts) come.” Of course, there’s the optimistic scenario that has played out before in this hotspot for saltwater fishing in Acadiana: Sometimes, the speckled trout bite continues through the winter. “If we don’t have bad cold fronts … the speckled trout bite might hold through the winter,” he said. More than two cold fronts per week would spell trouble, he said, noting those weather systems would keep the water from settling and dump rain that freshens it up. Semar said there are some go-to places to fish, naming Trash Pile, Weeks Bay, The Cove and The Hammock. The latter often stays fishable no matter what. The stretch from the Avery Canal to the Commercial Canal on the north side of Weeks Bay also might be productive, particularly after a cold front with the north wind blowing. One soft plastic color speckled trout find irresistible in The Cove is a white/red, especially if the water is a little stained. Other popular colors among speckled trout and the anglers who chase them are black/chartreuse and pink. Redfish action should be fair to good most days this time of year. Many of them will be caught in the marsh, the drains, ponds and big lakes inside Marsh Island ­— places like Lake Michael, Lake Tom, Lake Ferm and Oyster Lake. If water conditions permit, fish the reefs at Southwest Past and at The Mound, where more black drum than redfish are often caught. Also try the area from The Hammock to The Jaws. Fish with market shrimp or cast net for finger mullet.

This group of ladies boated 326 pounds of reds, specks and cobia during a guided trip to Cocodrie. Shown are (left to right) Kellie Broussard, Celine Moss, Wendy Howell, Pam Broussard, Norma Primeaux and Norma Romero with fishing guide Capt. Eugene.

Lisa Graves of Galliano caught this big red in Leeville.


December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 233


fishing forecast


Nine-year-old Jessie Breaux of Mansura nabbed this redfish in Grand Isle during a weekend trip in June.

Morgan City Area

At least one Morgan City bass angler, who also catches his share of sac-a-lait, won’t be sorry to see 2013 in the rear view mirror. A perplexing and fairly frustrating year of bassin’ in the Spillway limped to a close, as far as Bill McCarty was concerned in October and early November. It was a challenge to put a bass in the boat most of the time. McCarty, who owns WHM Services and serves as a St. Mary Parish School Board member, said muddy water was the biggest problem at the time. “The water’s at a low stage right now. When the tide comes up, it washes into the mud. When the tide goes out, it muddies it up. It’s not flushing through right now,” he said, noting the Atchafalaya River was well below 2 feet at Morgan City. McCarty, an avid deer hunter, won’t be on the water targeting

234 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

bass much, if at all, during this period. He’ll be out bowhunting on a lease near Berwick, but he knows from previous experiences that bass can and will be caught, weather and water conditions permitting. “You’ll have a lot less competition, for sure,” he said. “There will be a lot more people duck hunting and deer hunting and the same amount of (boat) trailers at the landing. “You can probably still catch fish in the same spots as you did in November, as long as it doesn’t get real cold, which it doesn’t look like it’s going to.” When the north wind blows and the water’s falling, target points in and around Grand Lake and the Bayou Pigeon area. Also concentrate on areas up north, the “real” Bayou Sorrel, he said, because those points hold some bass. He suggested fishing with a 3/8-ounce chartreuse or chartreuse/white willowleaf blades spinnnerbait or a shad-colored or black crankbait.

If McCarty goes bass fishing, he’ll more than likely fish the drains outside the Basin, cuts that drain duck ponds along the Big Wax. After a cold front, bass often are ganged up and eating in those areas. “I know the pressure’s high, but you can still catch fish in those drains,” he said. “The fish are stacked. “The same thing holds true along Bayou Black, off Turtle Bayou Pipeline or the 70-Mile Canal.” In those draining areas, McCarty is partial to a 6-inch-long red shad plastic worm, although he said color really doesn’t matter. But, he said, red shad’s a good color to start. If the bass are active, offer them a small, chartreuse/white Humdinger spinnerbait with a Colorado blade and a willowleaf blade. Hopefully, sac-a-lait fishing improves, and it should, he said. “That’s the time of year I’m looking forward to,” he said, adding that he usually catches slabs above West Fork and Middle Fork. Farther south, target canals off Duck Luck. Fish with black/blue or red/white Poppa Chops. In late December, he likes to go on the other side of the East Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee and fish the Stephensville area. He’ll dunk shiners around the base of cypress trees after four or five days of warm weather. Hopefully, sac-a-lait will show up again at the Berwick Boat Landing that is situated where the Intracoastal Canal intersects with the lower Atchafalaya River. Like the Chicken Coop at Toledo Bend, that boat launch area becomes a hotspot. Well, except for last year, when there “wasn’t a fish in there.” Fish with the aforementioned Poppa Chops.

Paul DiMarco enjoyed his time fishing The Pen in Lafitte while on mid-term break from Loyola University.

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Henderson Lake Grass that has taken over much of the lake was keeping many anglers away from Henderson Lake in late October and early November. But to those fishermen who plan to fish, the lake should give up bass and sac-a-lait in late November and through December. There are open areas in north and south Lake


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fishing forecast


Bigeux, along the Texas Canal and in Butte La Rose Canal that should be productive, said Laurette Mequet, who along with her husband Mitch Mequet owns Cypress Cove Landing and Houseboat Adventures. Mequet also pointed out that a crew has been removing old pipes from the pumping station area along the Phillips Canal, so work boats regularly have been going in and out of the oftprime fishing hotspot. To catch sac-a-lait, she suggested fishing around the Interstate 10 bridge pilings between north and south Lake Bigeux about 10 feet deep with black/chartreuse, red/chartreuse and blue/ chartreuse tube jigs and hair jigs, as well as shiners. Otherwise, target the sac-a-lait with the same artificial or shiners fished about 6 feet deep in and around treetops and deadfalls in Opelousas Bay, Pelba Bay and Butte La Rose Canal, and in and around grass beds in Lake Bigeux. For bass, fish along the side of the Texas Canal, which is just north of and parallels I-10, north Lake Bigeux and Butte La Rose Canal. Stanley Ribbits in watermelon red/pearl still put bass in the boat this time of year when retrieved in and around grass beds. Also try a ¼- or 3/8-ounce chartreuse or chartreuse/white spinnerbait. On the other side of the West Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee, the catfish bite should be on in Bayou Amy across from the restaurant. Also target catfish on this side of the levee at the pontoon bridge.

This 8-pound red fell for a chrome/blue Rat-L-Trap Scott Falgoust was fishing in Lafitte.

Chicot Lake

After an eventful year of bass fishing at Chicot Lake — one in which 6-, 7- and 8-pounders were caught — many anglers who aren’t hunting are looking forward to fishing next spring on the lake nestled in the hills of Chicot State Park. But bass and sac-a-lait can and will be caught in the winter months. Ike Launey, an avid bass angler who caught a 7-pounder and a 5-pounder on the same day in August, expects the bass bite to be off and on in late November and December. Launey, a sales associate at Industrial Supply & Sports in Ville Platte, said bass can be caught, weather and water conditions permitting, mostly on the northern end of the lake. Sometimes, he said, it isn’t uncommon to catch eight to 10 fish before a cold front, but the ideal situation is to fish between cold fronts. Also try around cypress trees in the midlake area. Fish with a black/red or watermelon/red Brush Hog under a 3/16-ounce worm weight, or a ¼- or 3/8-ounce black/blue or black/red jig-n-pig in 4-foot depths off the shoreline. To put white perch in the ice chest, fish with blue/white, black/chartreuse or green/chartreuse tube jigs and hair jigs — 1/32- or 1/48-ounce models — 4 to 5 feet deep around cypress trees with grass around them. Also fish in and around grass beds along the edge of the channel in the Ski Lake area.

Miller’s Lake

Ike Launey reported that Miller’s Lake is closed to fishing during the duck hunting season. ■

236 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Scott Moore pulled this red out of the Texaco ponds in Lafitte using a spinnerbait.


fishing forecast

Calcasieu Lake cast and blast December is the perfect month to combine your outdoor pursuits Don Shoopman


ixing some potentially fine fishing for speckled trout and redfish with anticipated great duck hunting is what it’s all about for an avid outdoorsman this time of year around Calcasieu Lake. Just ask someone who appreciates the bountiful opportunities in late November and December, someone who has combined the sporting pleasures for most of his working life, someone like Buddy Oaks. He’s a charter captain and duck hunting guide at Hackberry Rod & Gun Club, and he can’t wait for that prime time to get here. Oaks, who started guiding in 1979, said he turns most of his attention to duck hunting when the waterfowl season rolls around. But the guide service still offers “blast and cast” trips that get him out on the water to hunt down speckled trout Zwolle’s Gilbert Aaron, 78, caught this 41 ½-inch bull red from the surf off of and redfish. Rutherford Beach in Cameron Parish on his first redfish trip. He caught, tagged and “Historically, the fishing’s great, with a released 12 bulls while fishing with his son Calvin Aaron (center) and Scott Foster. lot of flounder, a lot of redfish and some birds working (over feeding speckled trout and redfish),” Oaks said. “We’ll catch those fish all the way up to the time when the weather won’t let us any more.” At the time, which was a few days before the opening of the 2013-14 waterfowl hunting season in the Coastal Zone, the redfish bite was phenomenal just about anywhere in the lake system, Oaks said. Also, anglers were wade fishing and catching big speckled trout on Fat Boys (see recent Lure Review column in Louisiana Sportsman). That kind of fishing gets better and better as it gets colder and colder. Sure, he said, those ol’ yellowmouths get lethargic in the colder water, but speckled trout can’t resist a suspending soft plastic like a Fat Boy or a gold/chartreuse or tan MirrOlure Jacob Fountain caught his Catch 2000. first-ever black drum on a Gulp! As for the ducks where the guides hunt, he said there should shrimp in Calcasieu Lake while be some fantastic shooting. fishing with Brian Naquin and “We’re covered up with ducks,” Oaks said. The duck season Mike Fuqua. ought to be great.” Thirty-six boys and girls younger than 16 were guided during the youth duck-hunting weekend a few days earlier, he said, and they saw everything from teal to gray ducks to pintails to wigeon — and plenty of them all. >>>

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 237


fishing forecast


But back to the fishing prospects. For speckled trout, fish over reefs in West Cove or on the upper end in Turner Bay, by the island, and north of Texaco Cut all the way to the point. That stretch has beau coup structure and, as a result, plenty of speckled trout. You can fish for them conventionally or by wading, Oaks said. Remember, though, that the water’s cold and the fish are lethargic, so slow the presentation. If you use a Fat Boy, pink was a top color last winter, but Oaks noted that bone/ silver also is effective. There are other soft plastics that should account for many speckled trout this winter. Oaks listed Hackberry Hustlers in Who Dat and LSU colors, “mumpy” TTF Strike Minnows and purple/chartreuse Li’l Johns as his other favorites. Fish either on a ¼-ounce or 1/8-ounce leadhead, he said, noting he prefers the lighter weight. Redfish can be caught on those artificials, GULP! and bait shrimp, he said, on practically any shoreline or any point, and they’ll be mixed in with speckled trout under the birds. They can be caught in the marsh behind the weirs at Grand and Lambert bayous, if the weirs Brad Maloz, Peyton Maloz, Annalise are open to boat traffic, and — if you can Maloz and Milly Gaspard caught this get there and back without getting beat big boy running jug lines in Pecan up — down at the Cameron jetties. Island using hog liver for bait. Also target redfish in the Ship Channel from Pilot Station to Turner Bay, fishing either side of the channel. The flounder bite should be at its best as the water gets colder. those areas where there is some water movement but not a Fish up and down the Ship Channel with those aforementioned strong, fast current. soft plastics. What to fish with? Some of the most-productive artificial lures should be soft plastics such as Ultra-Vibe Speed Craws, Zoom Baby Brush Hogs and 4-inch-long Senkos. If the water’s When water and weather conditions permit, bass fishdingy, fish june bug, black/red or black/blue. If it’s clearer, fish ing ought to still be fair to good, even in late November and with pumpkin green or watermelon. December, along the Calcasieu River. Also use a ¼-ounce chartreuse/white or white spinnerbait, or That’s the medium-range fishing forecast from Jeff Conley, a shad-colored or fire tiger crankbait and retrieve s-l-o-w-l-y. manager at Lake Charles Tackle. At the time, which was the During a stretch of Indian summer days, topwaters can be second week of November, bass fishing was “pretty good” very productive. Conley likes ¼-ounce white buzz baits, which whenever the water wasn’t high and muddy immediately after can trigger strikes from bigger bass, and shad-colored or a cold front, Conley said. chrome Pop-Rs. “They’ve been doing pretty well,” he said, adding that should For sac-a-lait, target treetops and bridge pilings. Use a black/ be the status quo whenever the water and weather conditions chartreuse, blue/white or red/white tube jig or a shiner. are favorable. After a cold front, when the north wind’s pushing water out of drains, Conley advised anglers to fish in and around the mouths The Sabine River gives up its share of bass this time of year, of cuts both north of Ward 8 and on the lower end along West according to Jeff Conley. Fork Bayou in places like Watermelon Bay. Conley, Lake Charles Tackle’s manager, said most of the time If the cuts aren’t draining, he said, fish in and around cypress moving cuts are the key to putting bass in the boat up and trees and knees up and down the river system, particularly down the river system in the last week or two of November and

Calcasieu River

Sabine River

238 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

through December. “November’s really a good month and, depending on how cold it is, so is December,” he said. “It’s a good time to catch quality fish. “It’s really a good time to catch fish, and the numbers can be very good.” Some of the cuts in the Interstate 10 area and down south at Cow Bayou and Adams Bayou are perennial hotspots in the winter. Fish with pumpkin green or watermelon soft-plastic creature baits and crawworms, or toss a plastic worm Texas-rigged or on a shaky head. On unseasonably warm days, fish the river’s upper end, above Niblett’s Bluff, with topwaters early and late. Try ½-ounce white or chartreuse/white buzz baits, as well as Baby Torpedoes, Puppy Spooks and Pop Rs.

anglers to the area off the main river just south of the Mermentau River Boat Landing on the east side by the railroad tracks. Elsewhere, some potential winter hotspots are on the west side of the river behind Leevac Shipyard and farther down around Castex Landing. Also try Bayou Catourche and Piney Woods Canal, but chances are rain will have muddied them up by now. Getting off the main river also means targeting bass in Daigle Swamp, particularly The Roost area, which may have clear water. If the water is “decent,” tie on a ¼- or 3/8-ounce chartreuse/ white or black spinnerbait with a single Colorado blade and retrieve it around the base of cypress trees and cypress knees. If the water is stained, try chartreuse or chartreuse/lime. ■



Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge The Lacassine Pool inside the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge closed Oct. 15.

Mermentau River Mermentau River bassfishing prospects the last days of November and through December all hinge on the water color, according to Jeff Tall of Jennings. Tall, an accomplished bass angler on the river as well as at Toledo Bend, where he is always a top contender in the series of Oilman’s events, said IF the water’s decent and fishable it’s best to stay off the main river in your search for bass the colder the water gets. But water color is the key. “The upper reaches are getting stained,” Tall said. “It’s changing colors on the north end around I-10.” But, he said, that doesn’t always mean an early end to favorable water conditions farther south along the river. “It’s always hard to predict,” he said. “Once it starts getting dirty, there’s not much chance of it getting clear.” With frequent cold fronts, the river doesn’t have much time to settle, he said. If weather and water conditions permit, Tall pointed bass




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fishing forecast

Pick and choose your lily pad field Lots of places to find Cane River bass Glynn Harris


ccording to Jerry Mitchell, a Skeeter Team member from Alexandria, Cane River should have plenty of water in December. “It’s really hard to predict what the lake commission is going to do because they close the lake whenever they decide it’s needed,” he said. “If things stay like they are now, bass fishing will be good in December. “If you can catch a fairly warm, cloudy day, you can really work on the bass. They’ll be back around the pad stems chasing shad, and a 100 series crankbait usually works quite well.” Another good bait to try is a ¼-ounce spinnerbait. “You can find these pad fields all the way up and down the river so no one area seems better than the other,” Mitchell said. He said some folks do fairly well with crappie in December in fairly deep water on jigs and shiners. user “BASS KILLA” posted this photo showing some Kincaid Lake bass caught during a Holy Savior Menard Central High School BASS club event. The club is named “BASS FINATICS.”


The crappie will be in transition in December, and fishing can be good or not so good, according to Mitchell. “They’ll be scattered in 8- to 10-foot water in the deeper bayous, and the best way to catch them is to drift along using jigs or shiners on spider rigs,” he said. As far as bass, Mitchell said they’ll will be keying on cypress trees. “These lakes have quite a bit of hydrilla, and (during) early mornings fishing is best around the grass away from the trees,” he said. “Once the sun comes up, they’ll more likely move in closer to the cypress trees, where you can flip a tube in black/ blue or watermelon or a black/brown/amber jig for best results. “Another technique is to throw a spinnerbait next to a tree and let it bump the roots. This will sometimes trigger strikes.”

Red River South

The quality of fishing on the Red River in December will depend on how much rain the system has received, Mitchell said. “If there is a good bit of rain, it can muddy the water and sort of slow things down,” he said. “Otherwise, I’d head to the back of the oxbows and target timber and laydown logs. “If you find some coontail or hydrilla, throw a trick worm or a Senko around the grass in 4- to 5-foot water. A small crankbait will also work around the grass.” Mitchell said you can also catch some fish in the river if it’s not muddy. “I like to target the shallow flats with grass along the river edges with a crankbait,” he said. 240 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013 user “Louisianaswampboy” posted this photo on the Bass Fishing forum on Nov. 10, with the instructions “just use the wacky jigs on a watermellon Senko in any swamp.”

Lakes Concordia, St. John, Bruin

Eddie Roberts of Vidalia fishes these lakes regularly and has a good idea of what is going on in the area. “In all of these lakes — Concordia, St. John and Bruin — you need to think jig flipping in December,” Roberts said. “Even in cold weather, I like to flip the cypresses in shallow water with a Crawgator jig, a lure that has been around a long time. I’ll fish it in a crawfish color because that’s why the bass are there — feeding on crawfish. “You can also fish a Rat-L-Trap, going from tree to tree, and I like a bream pattern with this bait in December.” Roberts said crappie fishing on all these lakes should improve in the winter, especially on Bruin that which is an excellent crappie lake. “Fishing jigs or shiners around the piers on the lake usually works quite well,” he said. ■


fishing forecast

Drop a jigging spoon and go to town Potential is there to crush bass at Caney Lake Glynn Harris


reg Terzia, owner of Greg Terzia Bait and Tackle in Ruston (318-278-4498), said that if you like fishing a jigging spoon or a tail kicker, now is the time to fish Caney. “The fish really bunch up in schools out in the deep water,” he said. “Anywhere from the McDonald’s road bed down to the spillway will be areas where you can find the fish bunched up on your graph. Once you find them, I like dropping the spoon or tail kicker right on top of them. If you have a good enough graph, you can actually see your bait dropping down in the fish. I just jig the bait up and down vertically while I watch my graph. It’s a blast. “I prefer using a spinning rod with 8- to 10-pound-test line because the water is so clear, and I seem to get a lot more strikes downsizing my line. “Even though you see a lot of boats fishing out in the deep water, don’t think that that’s the only place the fish are holding. You can also catch a lot of fish holding on the piers in the backs of the creeks fishing with shaky heads, Carolina rigs and jigs.” December is also the time of year when this lake’s population of yellow bass head for the depths to feed on shad. Dropping a CC jigging spoon to the bottom, and jigging it up and down can result in some fast action.

Lake D’Arbonne

“December is one of my favorite months to fish D’Arbonne,” Terzia said. “You can generally catch a lot of good-sized bass fishing piers in 2 to 10 feet of water. “My favorite bait to fish is a Carolina rig with a Zoom 6-inch lizard in any of the watermelon-type colors. I also like to spike the lizard’s tail with garlic scented chartreuse dye. The Carolina rig is one of my favorites this time of year because you can cover ground quickly. I just concentrate on throwing it around the piers and dragging it through the brush piles. Feeling that tug back is an awesome feeling. Another bait Terzia loves to fish this time of year is a Pepper Jig made by Pepper Custom Baits out of Colorado. “I prefer any of the jigs with the color combinations of black, blue, purple and brown,” he said. “I’ve been fishing this jig for years and seem to get bit more fishing this jig than others. I believe it has something to do with the head design and its bright-orange eyes that are very noticeable under water.

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fishing forecast



“I tip these jigs with a Gene Larew craw worm or a NetBait Paca chunk. “The Pepper jig is also good because it not only draws a lot of bites, but also quality bites. That is why it is one of my go-to baits when fishing a tournament.” Prime targets are clear. “Wherever you see a shaded pier, flip the jig around it and keep a good eye on your line,” Terzia said. “They generally hit it on the fall.” D’Arbonne is a quality crappie fishing lake, and Terzia said December is a good time to go for crappie on the lake, as they tend to suspend in bunches up this time of year. “Based on what my customers ask for, it seems that the Black Lake hair jigs and the Bobby Garland series of tube jigs seem to be what the fish want,” he said. “Both hair jigs and tube jigs seem to be what the crappie like in winter.”

Virgil Gaubert caught this 7 1/2-pound bass off of his pier in Chatham on Nov. 11.

Ouachita River

This fish helped Cindy Davidson Genovese take second place in a tournament on the Tchefuncte River.

242 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

According to Bobby Phillips, representing the Honey Hole Tackle Shop in W. Monroe (318-323-8707), look for bass to be active on the river this time of year. “Areas that traditionally hold bass are where a creek or slough empties into the river,” Phillips said. “If there is a sandbar adjacent, the bass will be chasing shad around these areas and just about any shad imitation lure will work. “I usually catch crappie this time of year around sunken brush in the river, as well as up the bayou. Shiners or jigs will both work.” ■


fishing forecast

Slow down for success at Black Lake

Fish want easy meals in cold conditions Glynn Harris


lack Lake, like a growing number of other lakes, is becoming infested with giant salvinia. Several people living on the lake or who own camps on Black Lake are reporting the spread of the weed, which will likely create serious problems as it continues to grow. But there are still fish to be caught. According to Sid Havard, pro-staffer and owner of Local Lakes Guide Service (318-247-6884), he likes to fish the lake after sunrise, especially if the weather has taken a turn to colder conditions. “I try and let the sun warm things up a bit before getting out,” he said. “The ticket to fishing in cold weather is to slow everything down. You can flip a Stanley ½-ounce jig along the channel edges, and at the mouth of the sloughs and creeks with some good results, provided you fish it very slow. “I like to add a trailer to my jig this time of year, which gives the fish a bigger mouthful to eat.” Havard added that soft plastics such as a Texas-rigged lizard or big worm will usually pay off this time of year. “If you find an area where there is some current, I have found that the north end of the lake is the best place to fish a jig,” he said. “I’ll cast it upstream and let the current bring it by a tree where hopefully a bass will be waiting.” Crappie fishing should be on the upswing in the channel, using shiners or jigs as the water cools down. Also, setting trotlines baited with cold worms is a good way to catch channel catfish on Black Lake in December.

Matt Roden used a Zoom plastic worm to catch this bass in Prairieville. crankbait that I’ll fish along the edges of the drops. “You can also catch them around the timber that’s standing along the edges of the drop-offs on Texas-rigged soft plastics. A Southpaw jig is another bait I like to use in these areas in December. When you’re flipping a jig, you’ll want to have at least 17- to 20-pound-test line spooled up; you have the chance to tie into a big one. “For shallow water, I look for grass and lily pads, and I’ll flip something like a Senko or a soft jerk bait around the grass.” McVey also said the crappie bite will be picking up as the water cools down. “Try 8- to 12-foot water around the standing trees with jigs or shiners,” he said. “You can also find them congregating this time of year in the main river, especially around the rocks.” To contact Russ McVey’s Guide Service; e-mail or call 318-464-2277. >>>

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Red River North Guide Russ McVey said bass fishing in December can be quite good in both shallow and deep water. “I look for the bass along ledges near deep water, especially areas with grass and lily pads,” he said. “I’ll usually start out with a white/ chartreuse spinner and a

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fishing forecast


Lake Bistineau

This lake has been drawn down to the channel in order to try and control giant salvinia that has been a problem on this lake for several years. Guide Russ McVey said that, with the lake drawn down, the fishing should be interesting this month. “I’ll be flipping Texas-rigged tubes and black/brown/amber Southpaw jigs around the timber, especially the trees growing next to the deeper sloughs as well as the main channel,” he said. “You can also catch some fish by cranking a Bandit around the cypresses growing out on the points.” The lake’s channels will be the best spots to target crappie, which should be suspended around deep brush. Shiners or jigs should work on these fish.

Caddo Lake supporting member Fishing Magician Charters’ Capt. Johnny Nunez put this crew on some serious fishing in November.

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McVey said he likes to fish crankbaits, as well as buzz baits, on Caddo Lake in December. “You might also find bass hanging out in the mouths of the creeks and sloughs that run into the lake,” he said. “A Bandit crankbait in shad or crawfish patterns fished in these areas can be big producers. “Another method that has worked for me on Caddo is to flip the trees with a Texas-rigged creature bait rigged with a worm weight. In addition, flipping a Southpaw jig tipped with a crawworm in these same areas can work.”

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Texas’ Sydney Ball caught this 35-inch ling while on vacation in Grand Isle with her grandparents, Johnny and Tisa Cooper.

Grand Bayou Lake

Jerry Hester who owns a Ford dealership in Coushatta, regularly fishes Grand Bayou. Hester said that, while you can catch bass here in December, they’re usually rather sluggish and you have to work harder for them. “This time of year, I’m usually after the crappie,” Hester said. “They’ll be in deep water out from the spillway, as well as up the creeks in the channels. Jigs or shiners will work best on these fish. “As far as bass, they’re in the deep channels, as well, and you have to really slow things down. Usually a black/brown/ambercolored jig fished real slow will get you a few bites.”



Lake Claiborne

Guide Sid Havard said that, as the weather and water temperature cools down, most of the action on Claiborne turns to the excellent crappie fishing this lake offers in winter. “Once they start biting, you’ll know it because of the number of boats that congregate out from the dam,” he said. “Anglers will be using both shiners and jigs to entice bites once the crappie turn on. “Some crappie fishermen go after them at night, even in winter. Using submersible lights, the shad will be attracted and the crappie will follow them. It can be a blast, if you can stand the cold.” Havard said you’ll probably find the bass around docks, especially those where the property owners have placed brush. “I’ve had my best luck with a ½-ounce Stanley black/blue jig and crawl the bait over every limb in the brush,” he said. “You’ll usually get bit as the bait falls off a limb. Be sure and spool up with heavy line when you’re fishing brush; there are sometimes some big fish hanging around in there. “Sometimes when the jig bite isn’t working, I’ll switch to a soft-plastic lizard and fish it in the same area I fish the jig. Bass at times want a soft-plastic bait. ■

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130 ACRES Timberland near Woodville fronting on picturesque Fords Creek, Hardwood & pine timber, Excellent hunting area, $2500/acre, Patrick Butler, Realtor, St. Francisville, LA 225-635-3202 3RE-117/W ----------------------------------------------------500 ACRES FOR HUNTING LEASE North Tangipahoa Parish, call Ben 985634-0151 3RE-105/W ----------------------------------------------------WATERFRONT LOT 1 acre lot in Sea Cliffe sub., Gautier, MS, 200 yards from Gulf, deep water access, red fish/trout/ crabs at your back door!!!! No one between you and the views of the gulf. $129,000 Call Brian -985-969-0171 4RE-106/W ----------------------------------------------------WATERFRONT Beautiful large lot w/ large live oaks, boat launch, etc., minutes to Lake Ponchartrain, Catherine, or Borne, Below appraisal, May Subdivide 504-669-5275 3RE-109/W ----------------------------------------------------GREAT HUNGTING!!! 160+/- acres bordered by Hwy 547 and Little Bayou Pierre on 3 sides in Claiborne Co. Ms. A 3/2 manufactured home in good condition is included which makes this great property a perfect hunting camp. Call Doug Merritt with Paul Green & Assoc. 601-442-2768 or cell 601-597-5434 6CAMPS-108/W ----------------------------------------------------COCODRIE Redfish Cove, Bayou side lots, Campers Okay, or build raised camps, 9 lots left, $35,000 each, www. 985-804-7525 6RE-102/W ----------------------------------------------------FOR SALE: MADISONVILLE ON THE LAKE 1.25 acres over looking Lake Pontchartrain; access to park boat behind home; trout/bass fishing, crabbing; gated community 504-554-0505 3RE-108/W

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2/’05 YAMAHA 225 4-STROKES 25’ shaft, re-powering, excellent maintenance, low hrs, easy test run, $14,500 985-630-9001 1BK-103/W



Up to 25 words $19.95/mn or $45 for 3mns. Add a photo for $10/mn


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Call 1-800-538-4355

27’ GLENN YOUNG 2 - 250 Verado’s w/550hrs, Radar, GPS, VHF, Depth Finder, 2 in Transom Live Wells, Walk-in Center Console, Original Owner, Motivated Seller, Asking $38,000 504-566-3060 or 782-3116 1BS-106/P

SPORTSMAN logo - it’s in fashion

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101.2 ACRES RECREATIONAL PROPERTY, ready to hunt abundant deer, turkey, small game, stocked lakes, 4,000 sqft two story house, Hickory, MS 270K Contact Raymond 504-455-1085 3RE-101/P

13595 AMITE LN, MAUREPAS, LA Recreation Property/Waterfront, 1753 LA, 4BR/1BA, Petite Amite Campsites, $175,000, Coldwell Banker ONE, Ryan Spencer, Each office is independently owned & operated, call 225-925-2500 3RE-101/P

Mon-Thurs 8-5 • Fri 8-3


CAMP FOR SALE Port Sulphur/ Happy Jack, Camp is 4 years old, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathss, granite counter tops, boatshed with lift, fish cleaning station, fireplace and much more, Asking $260,000 call 504-415-3251 3CAMPS-102/P

Blazin’ Hunter A must have for any Sportsman that wants to be seen! This Blaze orange hat is made of 100% polyester and trimmed in REALTREE Advantage Max 4 Camo.

SPORTSMAN or 1.800.538.4355

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 251

reader report

The Duck Call Buck By Zachary Bethea


hursday (Nov. 14), I woke up, and my dad called and said he killed a doe and he needed some help cleaning it. So I went to his house and helped him out. I talked to him a little bit and asked if he was going to hunt that evening; he said. “Yeah, I’m going to go in the woods,” and I said, “Oh, well, I’m going to go sit on that tripod you killed that doe off of.” We got to the woods about 3:30 p.m., and it was maybe 45 degrees — nice weather. I walked to the tripod that overlooked a cutover, and my feeder was 40 yards from the stand. I climbed up in it and sat still and waited. I was sitting there for about 30 minutes, and I thought,” I’m going to try and blow my new duck call and see if it does anything.” So I started blowing it — and I mean I blew that thing over 150 times. I stopped at about 5:15. I was using my .30-06, and it’s a semiautomatic and I had three shots, so I was ready. I blew the duck call one more time, and I set it down and five minutes later at 5:30 I heard something walking up. I figured it was a doe coming to eat some corn, so I was ready to watch because I’m not much into killing does this early in the season. I sat there and waited as it got closer, and right as it got Zachary Bethea called this big 10-point out to the edge of the little pine trees all I to his stand using a duck call. saw was horns. I grabbed my .30-06 and aimed right behind his shoulder and shot, and he I thought he was dead, so I called Daddy and asked him to dropped. I put a second shot in him to make sure he wasn’t bring me a bullet. it was close to dark but just enough daylight going anywhere. to see, and I finally finished him off with four shots. As soon as I shot the second time, I hopped out of my stand The Sabine Parish deer was a 10-point that was 20 inches wide and started dancing, and called Daddy and said, “I just shot a and had 5 inches of mass. ■ wall- hanger.” Of course, he didn’t believe me, but he said, “Alright. It better not be one of them on my camera.” send it in! If we run it, we’ll send you Got an Then a FREE one-year subscription along with After I got off the phone, I walked up to the deer and he was interesting a SPORTSMAN t-shirt and windshield decal. still alive, so I shot him again and left him alone. I was out of bullets and was going to let him die. story to Email: I walked up the road and back, and walked back to the buck. I share? * P lease try to limit stories to 500 words poked him with my gun and he never budged, so I walk around & send photos when possible. to his rack, and then he attacked me.

252 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 253

shop the SPORTSMAN store Sportsman Camo

Preshrunk 100% cotton shirts

In The Field Performance This shirt has the strength and durability of polyester, but feels like cotton! • Moisture-management • Anti-microbial performance fabric

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254 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

military green/orange




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REALTREE advantage Max 4 Camo hats made with 100% Cotton twill. Heavy garment wash with 3D embroidered Sportsman logo on front center and SPORTSMAN embroidered on either left visor top or back.Has matching camo Velcro back strap.

Cotton twill hats and visors. Hats have cream-colored cool mesh back. SPORTSMAN logo is embroidered on front and SPORTSMAN is embroidered on front embroidered on back with Velcro closure.



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Sportsman Jewelry

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Polarized SPORTSMAN Sunglasses also in red & orange


Bottle Opener Keychain

w/ 19” cord 1.25 x 1.25”


Pewter Pendant

Sportsman Wallet Made of 100% distressed full grain buffalo hide with 300 Denier polyester oxford water resistant fabric. Radio frequency security blocking to prevent electronic pick pocketing.


$29 Sterling Silver Pendants


Sportsman Flip N Fry MADE IN THE U.S.A. Has a large 1.25 gallon capacity container, big enough to batter 8 to 9 - 8" filets or 1 lb of shrimp at a time.


Sportsman merchandise available at these retailers: • La Cajun Stuff • Stine Lumber • The Crabnet • Gulfway Sporting Goods • Bowie Outfitters

• Bengals & Bandits • La De Da • Bridge Side Marina • Lafayette Shooters • Bayou Sportsman • Professional Sport Shop • Railside • Puglia's Sporting Goods • Fane Safe Company

For wholesale orders call 1.800.538.4355 ask for Amy.

December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 255

trout master

toolkit Learn from the trophy-trout fishermen and guides who live and breathe catching Louisiana’s glamor fish on the state’s hottest fishing grounds. From trout biology to color-coded hotspot maps, these books tell you where and how the fish are bitting — year-round.




Available Now at the SPORTSMAN Store or 1.800.538.4355 256 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

» Best lures & baits » Annual migration patterns » Guide tips » Detailed biology » Insights on how to stay on the fish » Color-coded maps (Trout Masters Too)

advertisers index A SPECK CHARTERS .................................................153 ACADEMY SPORTS AND OUTDOORS .........................69 ALL AMERICAN CARGO ELEVATORS.........................167 ALUMACRAFT BOAT CO. ............................................77 AMERICAN HUNTER GUN AND ARCHERY SHOP ........19 AQUA MARINE..........................................................139 ASCENSION GOLF CART ...........................................126 BAD BOY BUGGIES ...............................................88, 89 BAYOU MARINE ELECTRONICS ....................................4 BAYOU OUTBOARDS, INC. .......................................102 BAYOU RAPIDES FIBERGLASS LLC ...........................153 BDDS SALES ...............................................................12 BENT MARINE ............................................................78 BIG BUCK CONTEST..................................................197 BIG LAKE GUIDE SERVICE ........................................239 BIMINI BAY OUTFITTERS ...........................................97 BLACK’S OUTDOOR AND MARINE .............................17 BLANCHARD’S TRAILER’S UNLIMITED ....................150 BLUE DOT MARINE ..................................................133 BLUE WAVE BOATS .....................................................13 BOASSO AMERICA .....................................................98 BOAT RAMP MARINE ...............................................235 BOAT STUF .......................................................128, 181 BOATS UNLIMITED ......................................... 70-71, 73 BOWEN JEWELERS ..................................................129 BOWIE OUTFITTERS ...................................................85 BREAUX AND DAIGLE MARINE ........................ 188-189 BROOKHAVEN HONDA ...............................................80 BRUCE FOODS ..................................................176, 177 BUCKEYE FEEDERS LLC ............................................187 BUCKFINS N’ FEATHERS .............................................92 CABELA’S ...................................................................29 CAJUN OUTBOARDS ................................................135 CAJUN WILDLIFE ADVENTURES ................................73 CHRIS’ CAJUN BOILER / STEAMER ...........................128 COASTAL PIPE ............................................................37 COBIA VILLAS ..........................................................140 COPPERHEAD MFG ....................................................25 COVER’S UNLIMITED ...............................................167 COX SPORTS TELEVISION ......................... 125, 231, 234 CRAWFISH TOWN USA .............................................129 CUSTOM CORRUGATED AND SUPPLY ......................214 CUSTOM MAPS ........................................................190 CYPRESS COVE BOATING .........................................127 CYPRESS COVE MARINA ..........................................163 CYPRESS DEPOT ........................................................72 DAGATES MARINE ...........................................106, 172 DANOS .........................................................................5 DAVID SMITH HUNTING LODGE .................................36 DEEP SOUTH GOLF CARS .........................................109 DNZ PRODUCTS .........................................................42 DOCKSIDE MARINE...................................................118 DOUG RUSHING REALTY ............................................58 DOWN EAST GUIDE SERVICE ...............................25, 88 DUVIC’S BOATS .................................. 31, 157, 216, 258 FALSE RIVER ACADEMY BOOSTER CLUB .................102 FIRST SOUTH FARM CREDIT ....................................259 FIRST TURN ..............................................................201 FISHING SYKCO, INC ................................................157

FOWL FOOLERS .........................................................35 FRED NETTERVILLE LUMBER .....................................57 FRIENDLY YAMAHA ..................................................114 G&F SPORTING GOODS ............................................120 G4 BURNER ..............................................................128 GATOR OUTFITTER CO ..............................................129 GATOR TAIL OUTBOARDS .............................................7 GATOR TRAX ..............................................................21 GAUDET’S BOATS......................................................243 GILES ISLAND ..........................................................158 GIS .............................................................................15 GLASSMASTER FIBERGLASS REPAIR .........................92 GO DEVIL .................................................................137 GOIN FENCING ...........................................................87 GREAT RIVER HONDA ..............................................144 GREAT SOUTHERN OUTDOORS ..................................88 GUS TACKLE .............................................................169 H&H MARINE ...........................................................161 H&M MARINE .................................................. 164-165 HANKO’S ..................................................................193 HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS .........................................121 HENDERSON IMPLEMENT AND MARINE ......................................................... 107, 141, 169, 179 HONDA PE ............................................................60, 61 HUGHES WELDING AND MFG ..................................183 HYDRO TURF..............................................................75 IGLOO PRODUCTS ......................................................23 INTERSTATE GOLF CARS ............................................56 INTERSTATE GUNS ...................................................123 JEANFREAU’S HARDWARE ......................................159 JEFFERSON FIBERGLASS .........................................216 JERRY’S MARINE ......................................................229 K&S OUTDOORS .........................................................27 LA WHITETAILS........................................................245 LAFAYETTE SHOOTERS - NIKON.................................51 LEE HAWKINS REALTY, INC. .......................................42 LEGACY LIFTS, LLC....................................................149 LOUISIANA LOTTERY..................................................63 LOUISIANA OUTDOOR PROPERTIES ........................191 LOUISIANA SPORTSMAN SHOW .......................... 64-65 MAGGIO GMC.............................................................38 MAGNOLIA LAWN AND TRACTOR ..............................31 MAGNUM OUTBOARDS INC. ....................................140 MARINE LIFT AND DOCK SUPPLY COMPANY .............99 MCARTHUR REALTY ................................................161 MCGEE’S LANDING ..................................................184 MCM LUMBER .........................................................172 METRO BOATING..........................................................9 MIKE GERALD’S TRAILER.........................................191 MIKE’S MARINE .........................................................10 MISSISSIPPI DEPT WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES ...........33 MISSISSIPPI LAND COMPANY ...................................44 MOLPUS TIMBERLANDS ............................................87 MORE GRAPHICS .....................................................129 MOSSY OAK PROPERTIES-LAND INVESTMENTS LLC.43 NUNU’S ....................................................................153 PAT’S HOME CENTER ...............................................185 PELLEGRIN MARINE .......................................108, 244 PERFORMANCE POWERSPORTS ................................93

PERINO’S BOILING POT .............................................19 PETE JORGENSEN MARINE ......................................130 PHILIPS ARCTIC CAT ................................................162 PITMAN’S METAL WORKS .......................................171 PRIMOS .....................................................................17 PRO DRIVE .................................................................74 PUGLIA’S SPORTING GOODS ............................ 202-203 QUIRK’S WELDING LLC ............................................190 R. SCHEXNAYDERS & SONS .......................................35 REALTREE OUTDOORS................................ 44, 151, 260 RECLAND REALTY LLC ..............................................160 RENOVATIONS .........................................................119 RICHTON TIE AND TIMBER .......................................171 RUNNING CREEK RANCH ...........................................26 SARTAINS HERITAGE PROPERTIES ............................45 SAVAGE ARMS ...........................................................41 SCULLY’S CUSTOMIZED ALUMINUM BOATS ....155, 217 SEA HUNT BOATS .......................................................79 SEA TRAC OFFSHORE SERVICES...............................101 SEALY OUTDOORS ...................................................225 SERVICE CHEVROLET .........................................11, 147 SIMMONS SPORTING GOODS ....................................55 SLIDELL MARINE..............................................110, 111 SMITH VANIZ REALTY ................................................87 SOUTHERN /LOUISIANA ..........................................183 SOUTHERN COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS .....................179 SOUTHERN OUTDOORS & MARINE,LLC .. 149, 220-221 SOUTHERN POWER AND COATINGS ........................227 SPILLWAY SPORTSMAN ...........................................217 SPORTS CENTER .......................................................151 SPORTSMAN STORE ..........................199, 253, 254-255 SPORTSMAN TV .......................................................215 STELLA PLANTATION ...............................................184 STERLING’S UPHOLSTERY .......................................230 STICK IT ANCHOR PINS ............................................153 SUNSET MARINA @ 43 ............................................141 SUZUKI.......................................................................59 TERREBONNE FORD .................................................213 TERREBONNE MARINE ............................................180 THE BACKPACKER ....................................................128 THE DOCK KEY .........................................................216 THE LODGE AT TEE MAMOU .......................................31 THE SPORTSMAN .....................................................179 THE WILDLIFE GROUP ...............................................91 THERIOT’S OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT, LLC .......12 TIM’S MARINE .....................................................3, 209 TOHATSU AMERICAN CORPORATION ..............142, 143 TROUT MASTERS......................................................256 TWIN LAKES PARADISE .............................................62 UNITED COUNTRY GIBSON REALTY ...........................45 VIATOR PERFORMANCE LLC ......................................90 WALLEY PROPERTIES, LLC .......................................172 WHITE OAK PLANTATION ..........................................27 WILDERNESS CALLS ..................................................53 WILSON MARSH EQUIPMENT CO. ...........................119 XPRESS BY ALUMA-WELD, INC. ..................................2

Subscribe Today and SAVE . . . . . . . . 219 December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 257

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December 2013 | Louisiana Sportsman 259

260 Louisiana Sportsman | December 2013

Louisiana Sportsman  

December 2013 Issue

Louisiana Sportsman  

December 2013 Issue