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A supplement to the Amite Tangi-Digest, Kentwood News-Ledger, St. Francisville Democrat, St. Helena Echo, The Watchman, Zachary Plainsman-News Wednesday, September 28, 2011


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

2 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS

Bill Hurst, Cliff Hurst, Bryan Hurst, Josh Perkins and Talmadge Bunch after noodling in the Pearl River.

Have you noodled your catfish today?

By Hannah Catchings Hand grabbing, or noodling as it is often called, is a method of fishing in which a person uses only their hands or feet to catch catfish. East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Talmadge Bunch is an avid noodler who practices the sport every spring. “I’ve been doing it all my life,” said Bunch. “I was raised doing it.” Noodling is a spring sport, said Bunch, which begins in late April and continues through May and June. Fishermen who like to hand grab start by cleaning sand and mud out of dens, logs and other underwater areas that catfish can nest in. Bunch said catfish will seek out a hollow log or a hole under a bank to make their nest. When he and his friends go noodling, Bunch said they take a stick or use their hands or feet to feel inside a hollowed out space where catfish might be nesting. “You feel the catfish in [the log or under the bank, and after a little bit they’ll get

Talmadge Bunch shown above with his catfish.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

3A

Noodling continued from Page 2 aggravated with you,” said Bunch. “They’ll swallow your leg or your ankle and then you pull them up.” While unconventional, Bunch said this method of fishing is great for catching a lot of really large catfish. “We catch a lot of big 50 – 60 pound catfish in the month of May,” said Bunch. “A lot of big fish don’t bite hooks all the time, and they don’t bite bait all the time so you can’t catch them. This way you can usually catch a [male and female] pair of them.” Noodling is generally considered a male sport which is primarily practiced in the southern United States. Bunch’s wife Sue said she has been noodling once and is not a fan of wading around in the brown, murky water where the sport takes place. “I think it’s mostly [my husband’s generation that does it now,” Sue Bunch said. “ There are not many people left in this area who do it.”

Enjoying fish grabbing in the Amite River in the water; Ray Tynes, Bo Bennett and Talmadge Bunch show off their catfish they caught while hand grabCoarsey, Tyler Newstrom, Boomer Stroud and on boat Brother Bunch. bing.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Puppy love builds training business

By Hannah Catchings Situated on 13-acres of a sprawling Zachary farm, Y-Farms Retrievers is a kennel and retriever training facility for hunting dogs. Owner and operator Jennifer Young-Hopkins established Y-Farms in 1998 after a period of trial and error breeding through which she learned the techniques she successfully uses today. Prior to starting the business, Jennifer traces her interest in dogs back to a vulnerable time in her life. In 1994 her first husband died, leaving behind her and their 2-yearold son. A friend suggested that Jennifer’s son needed a puppy and gave them a black Labrador. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” said Jennifer. “I stayed frustrated. He’d pull up all the plants out of the flowerbeds, and he’d get out of the fence. He was a handful.” After an unsuccessful attempt with dog training school, Jennifer trained the puppy, and eventually other people began asking her to train their puppies as well. While Y-Farms kennels and trains other breeds, it centers on Labrador Retrievers. “A Labrador Retriever was designed to be a sturdy dog,” said Jennifer. “It’s a dog

that’s got a lot of drive and wants to please its owners. They want to go and pick up something and bring it back. They want to use their nose and their eyes to focus.” Labradors were essentially bred to hunt, said Jennifer. The Y-Farms kennel, which focuses on the southern states, trains hunting retrievers for duck hunting as well as blood trailing and tracking deer. “Basically, we can teach a dog to blood trail if they use their nose. It does not have to be a Lab Retriever,” said Jennifer. “If [a dog has] the drive and the want to and the nose for it, they can [be trained to hunt].” Before hunter retriever training can occur, a dog must be properly obedience trained, said Jennifer. Y-Farms generally starts obedience training for puppies around 7 to 12 weeks of age. “I try my best to evaluate a dog and meet the dog where he’s at,” said Jennifer. “If you’ve got a dog that likes to retrieve, but he’s still a little shy or a little slow, you’re going to slow down your pace with him. If you’ve got a dog that’s a wild, crazy, high strung dog, well then you’re going to work harder on their obedience and make them listen and focus more.”

See Puppy love on Page 5

Tipsy, 4 months, and Koda, 1 year, pictured from left, sit alongside Y-Farms owner and operator Jennifer YoungHopkins.

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5A

Puppy love continued from Page 4 Jennifer said training a dog can be compared to raising a child in the sense that each one has a different personality so any type of training must be adjusted to fit the individual. The business of breeding, kenneling and training dogs begins around 6 a.m. seven days a week for Jennifer and trainer Lori Thompson. Jennifer’s three children and husband Brad also help out. The morning begins with chores, cleaning the kennel, running errands for the farm, letting the dogs out to relieve themselves, dispensing medications and taking scheduled pets to see the veterinarian. Appointments to work with dogs and their owners occupy a large part of Jennifer’s schedule. To completely obedience train a dog takes around 60 days, said Jennifer. Dogs that receive further training work with specialized trainers to learn advanced hunting techniques. “I do what I do because I love it, and I do what I do because I want my children to carry on that [outdoorsman] legacy,” said Jennifer. “I think we’ve gotten away from it in the generation that we’re in.” For more information about retriever training or Y-Farms Retrievers, visit the kennel website at www.y-farms.com.

Four-year-old Trouble, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, reports back to trainer Alan Sandifer after successfully following directions during a duck hunting training session. Bradley Hopkins looks on from behind.

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OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 7 A

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Dads, take’em hunting!

I CAN HUNT TOO DADDY. Beginning hunter 7-year-old Erica Andrews is shown getting her first shooting lesson from her daddy, Eric Andrews during their first hunting trip together. PHOTO BY Margaret Andrews Margaret Andrews margaret.andrews@tangilena.com Ever thought about sharing lunch with a youngster from the comfort of a warm log on a sunny fall day in the woods? With the leaves turning gold, red and yellow, taking your child hunting provides the perfect opportunity for adults and kids to connect in the outdoors. In the age of video games and electronics, taking kids hunting will help them appreciate nature, become more responsible and learn about the safe use of weapons. Even if hunting doesn’t result in a prized trophy, the bonding and memories you make are well worth the trip. Taking a child hunting for the first time is a special rite of passage. However, it takes some planning so that everything goes off without a hitch. Preparation can and should begin early. Bring your budding outdoor enthusiasts out in the woods while scouting for stand sites, checking trail cameras or even while planting food plots. Make it fun dads. Your enthusiasm and excitement will be contagious. Use this time together to talk about deer tracks, what deer eat, when they move and what scrapes and rubs are. Kids are like sponges and they will soak up the knowledge quickly. Safety should be priority number one. Teach children that guns and bows, even toy ones, should never be pointed at any one. They should only be pointed at a target or the animal you intend to harvest. If using a gun, it is imperative to go over the location of the safety and the trigger. The child’s first exposure to the weapon should not be in the stand, it should be well before on the shooting range or similar setup. Even if the child will not be the one harvesting the animal, it is important to teach basic safety concepts of the weapon being used. On your first trip choose who will shoot; the child, the adult or neither. Depending on

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the child’s comfort level opting to sit in the stand and observe may be the first step. Dads, you always want the first experience to be fun and keep them coming back for more. And of course, we all know that not every hunt ends with an animal on the ground, that is an important lesson to be learned as well. Time of day is a consideration. Perhaps your wee one is not an early riser. Trying to get them out of bed at dark might sour the mood. An afternoon hunt will avoid this struggle. Depending on age, darkness may be a phobia for some kids. Be sure to take this into consideration, don’t wait until panic sets in and a great experience is ruined. It may just take a good flashlight or a hunting buddy to come pick you up at the stand or you may need to slip out of the stand before dark. Weather conditions must also be considered. A child isn’t likely to tolerate sitting still in extreme temperatures. Mild weather is best. Make sure that you and your mini-hunter are protected against the elements whether it be wind, rain or mosquitos. Behavior in the stand should also be discussed and practiced. Talk about whispering, being quiet, and careful, and possibly writing to communicate. Have snacks and drinks in quiet containers and avoid crinkly bags. Try to stick to smells like peanut butter and fruit. Who knows, Doritos may repel deer. Make sure to have your youngster take a potty break before you leave and be mindful of fluid intake. Be sure to keep things relaxed. Don’t force them, keep things fun and be flexible. Kids burn out, so know your child’s limits. A little preparation and flexibility will keep the first outing a wonderful experience and help shape the next generation of hunters and conservationists. Spending quality time in the woods with your kids can be very rewarding. As adults, it’s easy to forget that someone somewhere helped us first discover the great outdoors. Life is too short and kids grow up fast, enjoy them while you can.

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Feral hogs are a substantial problem across the state By Tom Aswell They’re in nearly every state in the U.S. and they’re in every parish in Louisiana. They’re ugly, carry disease and they’re harmful to crops and other wildlife. They multiply like rabbits and have become such a nuisance that the Louisiana Legislature, by rare unanimous vote in both the House and Senate, declared open war on them. House Bill 294 was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal as Act 95 on June 20, 2011. Feral hogs are a substantial problem across the state.  They compete with other native wildlife for food and cover resources.  They are known to be egg predators of ground nesting birds, including turkeys. They can carry diseases that are harmful to humans if precautions (wearing latex gloves and eye protection) are not taken in handling the meat or carcasses.  They can also reduce or eliminate tree seedling survival in reforestation efforts. There is no accurate count on their numbers but suffice it to say the population is multiplying rapidly. Feral hogs have been in Louisiana for more than a century but during the 1990s, hunters introduced them into new areas so that they could be hunted for sport. For that reason, hunters should never move live feral hogs. Hunters that feed or bait deer should

always install low fencing or panels to exclude hogs. Year round trapping and shooting efforts are necessary to control feral hog populations. They eat virtually anything. A farmer in Erwinville had his entire corn crop wiped out only days after planting. He esti-

mated his loss at about 2,000 bushels of corn—worth about $10,000—in a single field. Damage estimates by feral hogs nationwide approach $1.5 billion per year. In Louisiana, feral hogs are classified as “outlaw quadrupeds”, meaning they can be harvested throughout the year during daylight hours by properly licensed hunters.  (Note:

regulations for taking feral hogs on public lands such as wildlife management areas, national forests, and national wildlife refuges may be more restrictive, so consult hunting regulations pertaining to these areas.) To aid landowners in their efforts to control pigs, the laws and regulations concerning hogs and the methods in which they may be taken or harvested were amended in 2011. This included hunting hogs and other animals at night under certain conditions.  The new regulation allows the taking of feral hogs, coyotes, armadillos, beavers, and nutria on private lands at night without a permit from LDWF under the following conditions: To aid landowners in their efforts to control outlaw quadrupeds as well as beaver and nutria, the law concerning the taking of these animals was amended in 2011 to remove the firearm restrictions in prior law.  Currently, the law allows the taking of feral hogs, coyotes, armadillos, beavers, and nutria on private land at night without a permit from LDWF under the following conditions: •Person(s), other than the actual landowner, while engaged

Feral Hogs continued on Page 9

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Migratory Game Birds and Migratory Waterfowl Seasons

Feral Hogs continued from Page 8

in the nighttime shooting activity, must have written permission from the landowner in their possession, including the landowner’s contact information. Hunting clubs that lease land from a corporate landowner must obtain permission from the corporate landowner.   In this instance, the person(s) engaged in nighttime shooting must have written permission from the corporate landowner’s authorized representative and the hunting club’s president.  Each authorized person must be specifically named in this letter of permission. •Nighttime shooting may only be conducted from ½ hour after official sunset on the last day of DOVES – 70 Days February to ½ hour after official sunset on the last day of August of the same year.  In simple South Zone: Sept 3-11, Oct. 15-Nov. 27, Dec. 17-Jan. 2 terms, persons shooting nuisance animals at night, such as hogs, from March 1 to August 30 North Zone: Sept. 3-18, Oct. 8-Nove. 6, Dec. 10-Jan. 2 Day limit is 15. Possession limit 30 after splits’ opening days, includes mourning, white- will be within the prescribed season. wing, Eurasion collared and turtle doves. If hunters keep the head and one fully feathered •A valid basic hunting license is required. wing on Eurasian collared doves and ringed turtle doves, these two nonnative species will not be counted in daily nor possession limits. If fully dressed, these two species will be included • Any firearm legal for hunting may be used.  The prior restriction limiting night shooting in the aggregate limit. activities to .22 rimfire or shotguns with buckshot has been removed. TEAL Statewide: Sept. 10-25 • Spotlights, infrared or laser sighting devices, or other night vision devices may be used. Daily limit is an aggregate of 4 of bluewing, greenwing and cinnamon teal. Possession •Noise suppressants or muzzle silencers are legal to be used by persons licensed by the Bureau limit is 8 after opening day. of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. DUCKS – 60 Days West Zone Nov. 12-Dec. 4, Dec. 17-Jan.22, Youth weekend, Nov. 5-6 •There is no limit on the number of hogs, coyotes, armadillos, beavers or nutria that can be East Zone Nov. 19-27, Dec. 10-Jan. 29, Youth Weekend, Nov. 12-13 Daily limit is 6. Possession limit is 12 after opening days of all splits. The daily bag taken at night during prescribed season. limit can include no more than four mallards, of which only two can be mallard hens, 3 wood •Any person attempting to take hogs, coyotes, armadillos, beaver or nutria at night must notify ducks, 2 redhead ducks, 2 scaup (dos gris), 2 pintails, 1 mottled duck, 1 canvasback and 1 the sheriff of the parish in which the property is located twenty-four (24) hours prior to engagblack duck. ing in nighttime shooting. MERGANSERS – COOTS Same dates as duck season. Merganser daily limit is 5, of which only 2 can be hooded mergansers. Coots (poule d’eau) daily limit is 15. Possession limit is twice the daily limit after opening days of all splits. The take of these species is “in addition” to the daily duck limit. GEESE – 74 Days East Zone: Nov. 5-27, Dec. 10-Jan 29 West Zone: Nov. 12-Dec. 4, Dec. 17-Feb. 5 Daily limit on specklebelly geese is 2 with a possession limit of 4 after opening days of all splits. Daily limit on blue, snow and Ross’ geese is 20 with no possession limit. CANADA GOOSE – 44 Days Statewide: Dec. 17-Jan. 29 except closed in portions of Vermillion and Cameron parishes. Daily limit is 1. During the open Canada goose season, hunters are allowed to take 2 specklebelly geese or 1 specklebelly and 1 Canada goose. CONSERVATION ORDER SHOOTING HOURS: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset on all species. Harvest Information Permit (no fee) required to take all migratory birds and waterfowl. Waterfowl hunters 16 and older are required to have a Federal Waterfowl Stamp; a Louisiana Waterfowl Stamp is required for resident hunters age 16-59 and 16 and older for non-residents.

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10 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Seasons from Page 9 Take of blue, snow and Ross’ geese only East Zone: Nov. 28-Dec. 9, Jan.30-March 11 West Zone: Dec.5-16, Deb. 6-March 11 No daily nor possession limits. Hunters allowed to use electronic calls and shotguns capable of holding more than three shells. Hunting hours extended from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. RAILS/GALLINULES – 70 Days Statewide: Sept. 10-25, Nov. 12-Jan.4 Daily limit for king and clapper rails is 15 in the aggregate. Possession limit is 30 after opening day of the two splits. Daily and possession limit on sora and Virginia Rails is 25 in the aggregate. Daily limit on gallinules is 15. Possession limit is 30 after splits opening days. SNIPE – 107 days East Zone: Nov. 5-30, Dec. 10-Feb.28 West Zone: Nov. 5-Dec. 7, Dec.17-Feb. 28 Daily limit is 8. Possession limit is 16 after splits opening days. Statewide: Dec.18-Jan. 31 Daily limit is 3. Possession limit is 6 after opening day.

Licenses and Permits

Recreational fishing and hunting licenses may be purchased online or by telephone using Visa or MasterCard. Call toll free 1-888-765-2602. An authorization number for immediate use will be provided and licenses will be mailed to the licensee. A SERVICE FEE IS CHARGED. HIP CERTIFICATION All persons hunting migratory game birds (mourning doves, ducks, geese, woodcock, rails, snipe, coots or gallinules) in Louisiana must be HIP certified in addition to their appropriate licenses. LIFETIME HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSE are available only through the Baton Rouge Office. To expedite issuance make payment in the form of cash or money order. For additional information call (225)765-2887. Duplicates: $2.00 per privilege - no duplicates are allowed for trip licenses Hunter Education Requirements No person born on or after Sept. 1, 1969, shall procure a hunting license of any kind, unless that person has been issued a certificate of satisfactorily completion of a Hunter Education course approved by LDWF. • EXCEPT a person who has not completed a hunter education course may be

issued a license with the restriction that they are accompanied by, and under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who has a valid hunting license or proof of successful completion of a hunter education course.  • EXCEPT a person younger than 16 years of age may hunt without such certificate if they are accompanied by, and under the direct supervision, of a person 18 years of age or older who has a valid hunting license or proof of successful completion of a hunter education course. “Direct Supervision” means that the person being supervised shall be within normal audible voice proximity and in direct line of sight of the supervising adult at all times while hunting.  • EXCEPT This requirement shall not apply to any active or veteran member of the United States armed services or any POST-certified law enforcement officer who may be issued a hunter education exemption. Application for this exemption may be filed at the LDWF office in Baton Rouge (225-765-2932) or any regional field office.  For information on scheduling a hunter education course log on to www.wlf.louisiana.gov or call 225-765-2932.


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 11 A

Gator hunting in Louisiana

Margaret Andrews margaret.andrews@tangilena.com Louisiana is at the heart of alligator country. In fact, Louisiana’s wild alligator population is estimated to be approximately 1.5 million gators. In addition to their wild population, it is estimated that another 500,000 alligators are found on commercial alligator farms within the state. For those interested in alligator hunting in Louisiana, the wild alligator season starts the first Wednesday in September. In Louisiana, an alligator hunter must either own land or lease land that is classified as wetland habitat in order to qualify for alligator harvest tags. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issues harvest tags for property containing sufficient alligator habitat capable of sustaining an alligator harvest. Hunters must apply for alligator tags prior to the season. An alligator hunter license applicant must submit the following: • A completed alligator hunter license application form including the hunter’s information (name, DOB, drivers license number, etc.). • Proof of property ownership (tax receipts or bill of sale) containing Parish, Township, Range, Section, and acreage information. • A map outlining the property to be hunted. • A landowner’s signature indicating permission for the hunter to harvest alligators on the property. • If applicable a legal alligator hunting lease may be submitted. • Alligator hunting licenses cost $25 and there is no cost for alligator tags. Non-residents and persons not possessing or having permission to hunt alligators on private

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property can harvest alligators as an alligator sport hunter while accompanied by a guide. A guide must be an alligator hunter possessing valid alligator tags. An alligator Sport Hunter License cost $25 for Louisiana residents and $150 for non-residents. When it comes to alligator harvest, Louisiana is king! Louisiana alligator hunters harvest over 30,000 wild alligators annually and farmers harvest 280,000 farm-raised alligators annually. Partly due to the popularity of the show “Swamp People,” alligator hunting and alligator meat are experiencing a boom. Food distributor Sysco reports that the sale of alligator meat has increased significantly, and the LDWF reports seeing an uptick in the number of hunting licenses required. No additional licenses are being issued, though, despite the increase in demand, says LDWF officials. The state Alligator Management Program reflects a thoughtful approach to both protecting and managing wildlife. Back in 1962, alligator hunting was banned. Too many were being harvested. By 1981, though, the state had created a regulated hunting season statewide, which they’ve maintained ever since. Without the hunting program, approximately 2 million alligators could become a nuisance. Left unchecked, the alligator population would explode. So Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries regulates the hunting season by giving out tags to registered hunters and specifying where hunters can look for their targets. Hunters may receive one to 400 tag, depending on the acreage of alligator habitat where they’ll be hunting. Then, hunters race to catch as many alligators as they’re permitted - so they can sell them and stock their own freezers with enough alligator meat to last through the year.


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OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 13 A

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

BOWFISHING: The thrill of fishing and hunting simultaneously By Stacy Gill Bowfishing is a sport growing in popularity. It combines the skill of archery with the thrill of fishing. To someone from Sportsman's Paradise, this is a sport made in heaven. The sport demands accuracy and will improve an archer's shooting ability. Many deer hunters have take up the sport of bowfishing to to keep their archery skills sharp year-round. Bowfishing is a method of fishing that uses archery equipment (compound bows, traditional bows or recurves) with specially designed bowfishing reels and line to shoot and retrieve fish. Fish are shot with the barbed arrow that is attached with special line to a reel mounted on the bow and then are reeled in. A deer hunting bow can be used for bowfishing but you must be able to remove your deer hunting accessories and replace them with bowfishing accessories. Avoid using regular deer hunting rests, which can be dangerous, since they are not designed for bowfishing. Bowfishing bows do not need to be high-tech and outfitting them is relatively inexpensive. Draw weights should be what you are comfortable with. Most draw weights are from 35 - 55 pounds. The majority of shots in bowfishing are within 10 feet eliminating the need for a higher draw weight. Although all game fish can be legally taken with in a bow in Louisiana, common types of species hunted in freshwater are carp (common, grass and bighead), gar (alligator, long and shortnose and spotted), paddlefish, buffalo, drum, catfish and tilapia. In saltwater, flounder, sheepshead, redfish, rays, barracuda and bull sharks are popular. Bowfishing is legal in almost any body of water rod and reel fishing is, although ideal bodies of water are typically shallow and still. Small streams, duck ponds, shallow lakes and marshes and canals are popular for bowfishers and can be found all over Louisiana. Any shallow body of water with good visibility offers your best opportunity, whether you are bowfishing during the day on land or at night from a boat. Bowfishers can fish day or night, but night fishing is wildly popular. In Louisiana, bowfishers can take charters or flat-bottomed boats out to shallow waters to a desirable location, and when they arrive, powerful lights (halogens, strong lanterns or flashlights work best) are turned on allowing bowfishers to see the fish. Sometimes the water is baited to keep the fish near, and the hunt begins! Arrows used in bowfishing have no feathers and are usually four to five times heavier than most conventional arrows. The head of the arrow has a specially designed harpoon-type head that keeps the arrow imbedded upon impact.

See Bowfishing on Page 14

Gar, carp, paddlefish, buffalo and drum are common species fished in the sport of bowfishing. Flat-bottomed boats, like the one seen in this photo, are best for navigating shallow waterways when bowfishing.

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14 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS Bowfishing continued from Page 13 Adjustments need to be made in your aiming point because of the water's refraction. Generally, you'll shoot three to six inches under your target, or at the belly of a big fish, to hit it squarely. The best advice: When in doubt, aim low, then aim lower. Line used is often made from braided nylon, Dacron or Spectra. Commonly used line weights range from 80 to 400 pound test in white, neon orange or lime green. Three types of reels are commonly used in bowfishing: hand-wrap, spincast and retriever. Hand-wrap reels are the simplest reels. They consist of a circular spool that the line is wrapped onto by hand and then secured in a line-holding slot. Laws and regulations administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries governing recreational fishing also apply to bowfishing. You must purchase a Louisiana fishing license and obey the limits on the number of fish you take. There has been some controversy about legislation seeking to ban bowfishing of redfish, which are considered by some to be overfished. Check the limits on the fish you want to take and keep abreast of changes in what fish can be caught with a bow, as they may change from time to time. For the avid bow fisherman or woman, you'll find an abundance of carp shoots and tournaments available, and many opportunities for pursuing trophy-size fish with a bow, both freshwater and saltwater. Guerin, 18, seen with a gar and carp he caught on a recent bowfishing trip.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 15 A

BP spill and floods impact fishing and hunting in Louisiana By Tom Aswell The 12-month period beginning with the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2009, followed a year later by devastating spring flooding, was a horrific time for Louisiana’s hunting and fishing industry. Incredibly, CBS described the economic impact of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and ensuing gushing of more than 4 million gallons of oil into the Gulf as “mostly local.” To those who depended on, shell fishing and saltwater fishing, and charter boat operations for their livelihoods, catastrophic might be a better adjective to describe the effects of the spill. The toll on wildlife deaths attributed to the spill includes nearly 6,000 dead birds, 93 dolphins and three whales killed, 546 sea turtles killed. More than that, the long term effects on Gulf habitat still is uncertain. But the spill occurred at the peak breeding season for many species of fish and wildlife. The oil’s toxicity may have adversely affect egg and larval organisms, thus diminishing or even eradicating those age classes. Without those generations, population declines and may affect the Gulf’s food web for years to come. The immediate effect on fish and wildlife population is still unknown. It was not until four years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster that the Alaskan herring population collapsed and still has not recovered. Because the Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana, depend on commercial fishing and outdoor recreation to survive, the impact was immediate and is still being felt. Commercial fisheries had $659 million in shellfish and finfish income in 2008 and more than three million people took recreational fishing trips in the Gulf that year. Following the spill, recreational fishing was shut down from the Atchafalaya Delta to Mobile Bay and from May to August, state park closures dealt yet another serious blow to summer revenue. The CBS report said that while damage to Gulf fishermen may last, the Gulf’s commercial fishing makes up only a tiny fraction of the U.S. economy. Besides that, the report said, most fish eaten in the U.S. is imported. If that was intended to make shellfish and Gulf fishermen and those who rely on the tourism trade feel better, it fell woefully short. Despite the effort by CBS to minimize the local seafood industry, Louisiana alone supplies up to 40 percent of U.S. seafood supply and employs more than 27,000 people. The state’s $2.4 billion seafood indusSee Louisiana on Page 16


16 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS

Louisiana from Page 15

try makes Louisiana the second-largest U.S. seafood harvester and the top provider of shrimp, oysters, crab and crawfish. Then, a year later, rising waters from the Mississippi River threatened Baton Rouge and New Orleans, prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin diverting the high waters by opening floodgates of the Morganza and Bonnet Carre spillways. The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway primarily affected oyster beds because of freshwater intrusion. The Department of Health and Hospitals closed oyster harvesting in Lake Borgne in a move that impacted oyster harvesting in St. Bernard, Orleans and Plaquemine parishes. Further to the west, however, the opening of the gates on the Morganza Spillway had a more serious impact on fishing, wildlife and human population. It even prompted Gov. Bobby Jindal, normally loathe to asking for federal assistance, to write Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in May to seek “immediate consideration of available assistance and recovery programs for our recreational and commercial fishing, hunting and eco-tourism industries.” The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) issued warnings to residents to be mindful that flood waters had forced wildlife to seek higher ground, in some cases in populated areas. Basic tips given by LDWF urged the public to avoid areas where displaced wildlife had taken refuge, avoid interaction with and do not feed displaced wildlife and to avoid roadways near flooded areas to reduce the

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

likelihood of disturbing and possibly colliding with wildlife. Among the specials specifically warned about were black bears, alligators, snakes, deer and feral hogs. In his letter to Salazar, Jindal noted that about 1400 commercial fishermen depend upon the Atchafalaya Basin, which he described as “a North American treasure with hunting, fishing, camping and other nature-based opportunities that simply are unparalleled.” He said the basin is the number-one recreational fishing destination in Louisiana. Jindal said the 10 million pounds of crawfish harvested commercially from the basin in each represents about 95 percent of all crawfish harvested in Louisiana that makes it to market. He placed the commercial value at $28 million “before even taking into account sales to consumers and supporting businesses. Besides fishing and recreation, one other major impact of the flooding could be on deer population. Fawns living adjacent to the Mississippi River normally are born in late June through August. This is nature’s way of insuring survival of fawns that might otherwise die if born at the peak of spring flooding. When prolonged high water extends into June and July, deer are prevented from using their normal habitat. Under such conditions, does may suffer from poor nutritional conditions and often this results in maternal abandonment which in turns results in high fawn mortality, thus affect future populations. Accordingly, wildlife managers need to closely monitor fawn survival estimates in order to set harvest goals for the next few years.


OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 17 A

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

The circle of life

A.C. Pate on his last hunt Christmas of 2010. By Mike Pate He was a tall, reverent, proud man - gentle and easy. I can see him now standing in the woods, motioning for me to come on. He taught me everything I know about hunting, fishing and just being a man. I started hunting when I was about 5 years old, coons and squirrels mostly. When I was about 9 years old, my uncle gave me a Black Prince single barrel 410. I had never heard of a gun like that before nor since. It no longer had a bead on it, so dad gave me a few pointers about looking down the hammer and barrel to line up and hit my target. He placed me on the side of a hill in rural Mississippi and told me, “be very quiet, and do not move.” I sat there for what seemed to be an eternity in my 9-year-old mind. The sun was starting to set when I began to hear something scurrying in the leaves on the ground. My heart started beating faster with anticipation. I slowly and quietly got my gun in position. Then I saw it - a squirrel! I excitedly squeezed the trigger. I got it! My first squirrel! Shortly thereafter dad showed up, and I was holding my prize. “That is a nice Fox squirrel son,” he said. “You did good.” We loaded up our truck and headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to show them my prize. Dad told me to come out on their back porch to skin the squirrels. While out there I asked dad if I could keep the squirrel’s tail as a trophy. He cut it off, and I hung it on a post, then went inside. We washed up and told my grandparents about the day, then packed up to head back to Louisiana. When we came out, I went to get my tail, and a cat had taken off with it. My dad assured me that would not be the last squirrel I’d get. He was right. I have since had a son, and my roll has changed. I am no longer the “ lead slinger “ trying to get the first kill. My pride comes from watching my son grow into a man. At 50 years old, I have enjoyed and shared many fond memories of hunting and fishing with my father, but Alzheimer’s took that away from us. Though my father’s disease took his memory, one thing he always remembered was hunting. During his final days on earth, my father could not eat or drink, but when someone mentioned his Weatherby 300 Mag. he said, “That was a gun.” Alzheimer’s took so many of my father’s memories, but it couldn’t take those bonds of hunting so special to our memories. Last Christmas turned out to be our final hunt together. I knew his days were few, so I went and got dad out of the War Veterans home and took him to Mississippi. It was cold so I bundled him up, put him on the Kawasaki mule, and drove him to the deer stand. It took a while to get him in the stand, but we made it. We didn’t see a deer that hunt, but it really didn’t matter. It was not about how many squirrels we got or how big the buck was. It was about the time that we spent together, and that was the only thing that mattered. He was still my hero, and it was hard to see my hero suffer from such a horrible disease. While I wish I could have him back for one last hunt, I now make memories with my sons and grandsons teaching them all that my dad taught me. He left big shoes for me to fill, and I hope I can be as good a dad to my children as he was to me. - In loving memory of A.C Pate

A.C., Mike and Michael Pate Christmas morning.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

18 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS

The Hunter's Pledge

Responsible hunting provides unique challenges and rewards. However, the future of the sport depends on each hunter's behavior and ethics. Therefore, as a hunter, I pledge to: • Respect the environment and wildlife. • Respect property and landowners. • Show consideration for non-hunters. • Hunt safely. • Know and obey the law.

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• Support wildlife and habitat conservation. • Pass on an ethical hunting tradition. • Strive to improve my outdoor skills and understanding of wildlife. • Hunt only with ethical hunters. By following these principles of conduct each time I go afield, I will give my best to the sport, the public, the environment and myself. The responsibility to hunt ethically is mine; the future of hunting depends on me.

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OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 19 A

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Deer hunting is more than a family hobby, it's a way of life By Stacy Gill Deer hunting is the sport of pursuing and harvesting deer that dates back tens of thousands of years ago. In Louisiana, it is a way of life for many families - men, women and children - who enjoy the sport. - it's no longer just for the guys anymore! For one couple in West Feliciana, it has become a passion and a family tradition passed down to their children and grandchildren. Sandi and Joel Smith live and hunt on more than 1,000 acres of pristine whitetail acreage. "I think I have hunted every type of prey legal to hunt - ducks, doves, quail, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, deer and hogs," said Joel. "By far, deer hunting is my favorite." Hunting with dogs and still hunting are the two main modes of hunting in Louisiana. Although hunting with dogs is popular and exciting, the Smiths prefer still hunting with rifle, bow or primitive weapon. Still hunting requires the sportsman to hunt from a stationary position usually in house stands, tree stands or ground blinds, explains Joel. "We prefer this way of hunting. It's more rewarding since we scout an area with trail cameras or by walking and looking for feeding and bedding areas, travel corridors and scrapes," he said. Joel has been hunting for most of his life, and Sandi, who has been hunting for the past 25 years, joined her husband and sons after she realized that nearly every weekend from October to January she found herself alone with the couple's daughters off doing their own thing. "I just figured that if I couldn't beat the fun, I'd join in it," she said. "It’s not all about the 'kill' but about the peace, tranquility, time spent alone and the camaraderie." Sandi has become an avid hunter and has bagged many trophies with her rifle and bow that many men wait a lifetime to get. She says the the first time she hunted, and killed, was the hardest, but she soon realized that if the deer herd wasn't thinned, their food supply would diminish and this causes disease, as well as lots of damage to property. "They end up in your back yard eating your landscape," Sandi said. "Also, the venison is really healthy and yummy." Sandi eventually taught one of her daughters to hunt and began taking her granddaughters on hunts. She first introduced them to the sport by video recording their hunts together. "My experiences hunting with my husband, sons, daughters, grandson and granddaughters have been some of the most rewarding in my life," Sandi says. Both Joel and Sandi live off their land and the family fridge is stocked. Their freezer is filled with choice cuts of venison, as they have perfected the art of wild-game preparation and cooking. "We have ground meat, breakfast sausage, smoked sausage, burritos, stuffed pistolettes, hot tamales, stew meat, roasts and summer sausage made. All of this in addition to the bass and bream we freeze after we fish," said Sandi. While Sandi has become an expert in venison cooking and takes care of that aspect of

See Deer hunting Page 20

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20 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS Deer hunting continued from Page 19 the family hobby, there is plenty of work to be done so that everyone can enjoy the sport. "With the pleasure comes the work," said Joel. "We work hard so that our family and friends can enjoy the sport but as any serious deer manager knows, deer hunting requires year-round work to attract trophies and quality deer." In the Spring and Summer months, there is planting, bush-hogging and field discing to be done, besides foodplots to maintain and timber to be cut, if needed. Providing nutrition for antler growth, herd health and deer management is crucial if not expensive. Joel says there are a few native plants or natural browse a deer will not eat. He adds to their diet by planting foodplots of wheat, rye, clover, soybean, winter peas, lablab or brassica. Feed used on their property, distributed by feeders with morning and evening settings, include corn, rice bran, grains and other supplements. In Fall and Winter months, work includes checking and repairing shooting houses, putting up tree stands or ground blinds, sighting in bows or rifles and monitoring feeders and trail cameras. Joel's preferred weapons for deer hunting include a Matthews bow, Browning automatic 30-06 and H&R 45-70. For Sandi, her trusty Browning 270 rifle does the trick but she says her Matthews bow is her favorite since she prefers deer hunting with a bow. The couple hunt on the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) which provides optimal opportunities to manage deer populations through prescribed antler-less deer harvest. The state provides a qualified biologist to survey your property and assist in managing your deer herd, explains Joel. The DMAP program is monitored by the state with information you provide your biologist. The following data collected for DMAP evaluation are: Lower jawbone, weight, sex, date of kill, and points and measurement for antlered bucks. All harvested deer must be tagged, and all unused tags must be accounted for. Everything is recorded on a form furnished by the state. Biologists examine these data and evaluate the growth and development of deer by age class. Growth and development trends are identified and used to make management recommendations regarding the herd. Individual cooperator reports are combined with those

from the same parish to develop a regional perspective. Similarly, parish reports are combined into a state population report that is used in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' (LDWF) hunting regulations development process. For more on 2011-12 Deer Hunting regulations, seasons, limits and regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov Deer hunting summed up from one hunter's perspective... "I hunt because I enjoy the outdoors, the thrill of the unknown on a hunt, the excitement when you see your game in the woods and the racing of the heart right before you take a magnificent, elusive white-tail deer," Sandi said.

Six bucks feeding in the daytime in West Feliciana.

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OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 21 A

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Critter Cuisine

World Famous Squirrel Stew Jim Brown, who served in the Louisiana Legislature, as secretary of state and as Louisiana Insurance Commissioner is a renowned cook. His specialty is his squirrel stew. He was kind enough to share his recipe with us. Season 8 or 10 squirrels with salt and pepper and shake in paper bag with enough flour to coat squirrel well. In a large pot, heat 2 cups vegetable oil and fry squirrel until lightly browned. Move to another container and hold in 150 degree oven while making roux. Toss flour remaining in bag in pot, stir and cook until brown. Finely chop 2 bell peppers, 4 onions, ½ bunch of celery, 1 bunch parsley, 2 bunches green onion and 8 cloves of garlic. Add squirrel and cover with water. Add enough Kitchen Bouquet to give stew a nice brown color and toss in 8 or 10 chicken or beef bouillon cubes. Salt and pepper to taste and add some red pepper if desired. Stir well and bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook for about five hours. Serve over rice along with a tossed green salad and hot French bread. Serves about 15.

Venison Breakfast Casserole Ingredients: 2 lbs. Venison ground meat 2 tsp. Yellow dried mustard 12 slices white bread (crust removed) 1 lb. shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar, swiss, mexican, etc.) 10 – large eggs 1/2 cup chopped green onions 2 cups milk (whole or low-fat) Salt and Pepper A dash of Worcestershire Prepare and Cook: •Brown venison and add dry mustard; set aside. •Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray •Arrange bread in bottom of pan •Beat eggs and add all other ingredients except cheese •Layer venison on top of bread, then cheese and then the egg mixture. •Bake @ 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting in single serving size squares. HINT: You can prepare ahead several days and refrigerate, then bake the morning you want to serve. Recipe by Sandi Smith West Feliciana

Mom’s Venison Lasagna Ingredients needed: 2 lbs. ground venison 1 box lasagna 1 large onion Chopped garlic (several cloves) 2 large jars of Brother’s Spaghetti Sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce (any brand will do) Tony’s seasoning, about 2 tablespoons for sauce 4 tablespoons of sugar 1 large container of cottage cheese 1 medium container of ricotta cheese 2 lbs. of shredded mozzarella cheese To cook: •Brown venison with chopped onion and garlic. •Add spaghetti sauce and cook on low for one hour stirring frequently. •Add seasoning and sugar. •Boil lasagna according to directions on box. •In separate bowl, mix cottage cheese and ricotta cheese together; set aside. •Spray lasagna pan with non-stick cooking spray. Preparing lasagna for baking: Once meat sauce is done cooking for one hour, you are ready to begin layering in your lasagna pan. Add a thin layer of meat sauce into pan first. Then add a layer of lasagna. Add another layer of meat sauce. Then add a layer of cottage and ricotta cheese mixture. Add a layer of mozzarella cheese. Then add another layer of lasagna. Another layer of meat sauce. Another layer of cottage and ricotta mixture. Finally, top with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Baking and serving: Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 minutes covered with foil that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (spray side down). Then bake for 15 minutes uncovered. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving so that lasagna portion will retain its shape. Otherwise, serving will be a mushy mess. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese if desired and enjoy! Recipe by Stacy Gill Zachary


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

22 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS

Natural disasters and some not so natural take their toll on Louisiana Oysters

By: JOY LOFTON After the disaster of the BP Oil spill, the opening of spillways and the recent Mississippi River flooding, Louisiana oyster beds are diminished. Diminished, not devoured, like some would believe. The oyster industry in Louisiana is slowly trudging along, making due until the beds can build back. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries released the opening/ closing of the following areas where oyster harvesting takes place. • The Little Lake Public Oyster Seed Grounds was opened at one-half hour before sunrise on Wednesday, September 7, 2011. • With the exception of Calcasieu and Sabine lakes, all remaining public oyster seed grounds and reservations, including the Machias Fortuna sacking only area and the American Bay/Bay Long sacking-only area, will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Monday, October 17, 2011. • The oyster season in the west cove portion of the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area (Department of Health and Hospitals’ harvest area 30) will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Tuesday, November 1, 2011. The sack limit during this time period is set at 10 sacks per person per vessel per day. • The east side of Calcasieu Lake (Department of Health and Hospitals’ harvest area 29) and the Sabine Lake Public Oyster Area will remain closed for the entire 2011/2012 oyster season. With it apparent that the Louisiana oyster industry will

make a comeback barring any other natural, or not so natural disasters here are a few tips to follow when you are faced with a platter of big, beautiful raw oysters! • Most foods from animals are cooked prior to consumption. However, molluscan shellfish i.e., oysters, are often consumed raw or partially cooked. Illnesses sometimes occur from eating shellfish, and although most illnesses are typically not life threatening, instances of serious illnesses and deaths have been reported. Eating raw shellfish can increase risk of illness – cooking can reduce the risk. • Who should avoid eating raw oysters? Certain medically compromised individuals have an increased risk of serious illness or death from eating raw molluscan shellfish. Although these illnesses and fatalities are rare, medically compromised individuals are urged to abstain from eating raw or undercooked molluscan shellfish. At greatest risk are persons with liver, stomach, or blood disorders; individuals with AIDS, diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease; and chronic alcohol abusers. Those uncertain of their health status should seek the advice of their physician. • Why are cooked oysters safer to eat than raw ones? Thorough cooking kills bacteria and viruses that may cause illness. • Is it safe to eat oysters that I harvest? Only if you harvest the shellfish from waters approved by state or local regulatory agencies. Please refer to the section about self-harvesting on the “Safely Buying Oysters and Other Molluscan Shellfish” webpage for additional information. • What about eating raw oysters during months with the letter “R”? An old myth specifies the best time to eat oys-

ters is during months that contain an “R” (i.e. September through April) and to avoid eating oysters in months that do not contain an “R” (May through August). While levels of certain naturally occurring marine bacteria, like Vibrio, are higher in coastal waters during warm weather months, the bacteria may still be present, although in lower levels, during cold weather months. • Because heat kills harmful bacteria and viruses, thoroughly cooked oysters, clams, and mussels are safe for anyone to eat all year, as long as they are legally harvested. • Is it safe to eat previously shucked shellfish raw? No. Shellfish that has been shucked (removed from shells) and placed in plastic or glass containers is intended to be cooked and should not be eaten raw. And to wrap it up! How to eat a raw oyster - Louisiana Style! 1. Examine the shell for the perfect place to plant your lips. 2. Don’t think too hard about what is inside of the oyster. You are only interested in the taste. 3. Select your preferred condiments, some suggestions are: Lemon wedges, Tabasco or other hot sauce, piquante sauce, seafood cocktail sauce, chili sauce, or horseradish. 4. Apply condiment (if any). 5. Cradle the shell by grasping it with your thumb and first two fingers. 6. Once ready, slurp up the oyster, in one single slurp, savoring the taste in your mouth. 7. Drink the salt-watery juice. 8. Chase the oyster with a swig of your favorite drink.


OUTDOOR TRADITIONS 23 A

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Bowfishing with Brad

By Stacy Gill Brad Guerin, 18, of Ventress, was practically raised at a deer camp. For as long as he remembers, weekends were spent at the deer camp, everyone in camo, cooking, laughing, playing cards or centered around a television on Saturday nights watching LSU; that is, when they weren't hunting. In the summers, weekends were spent at the fishing camp out on the water, boating in the river or camping at a lake. Fish frys, cards and games at night were followed by early morning and mid-day fishing. The early-morning anticipation when loading up the boat, icing down drinks, preparing tackle boxes, rigging the rods and reels and spraying down with repellant...Ahhh, life in Sportman's Paradise! Guerin naturally fell into step with the traditions of his dad and grandad, who are both hunting enthusiasts. He also followed a great love of his parents, who both love to fish. But it was at the age of 12 that a childhood friend introduced him to the sport of bowfishing. A sport that Brad says is his passion. "I love to rifle hunt and bowhunt deer as much as I love to fish," said Guerin. "But bowfishing tops them both!" When other kids were going on their first deer hunts with their dads, Guerin was scouting for places to bowfish. There are many places to bowfish but you just have to scout them out and find the right spot, said Guerin. "Bodies of water that are shallow, still and clear are perfect," he said. Although night bowfishing is ever popular and preferred by many, Guerin says the bigger fish are seen during the day. Guerin shoots with an Oneida Screaming Eagle bow and hunts waterways in and around Ventress and southeast Louisiana. "My friend got me into the sport and I've been doing it ever since," said Guerin. "I love it. There is nothing like it!"

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Brad Guerin of Ventress seen here doing what he loves most: bowfishing. Guerin with his catch of the day, a gar, which is a common species fished in the sport.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

24 A OUTDOOR TRADITIONS

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Outdoor Traditions 2011