OUTDOORS: Hunting seasons are right around the corner

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002


Don’t look now but hunting seasons are only a month away.

In store are a surprisingly generous duck season and some new restrictions. Despite reports of dried up nesting ponds and serious dips in waterfowl populations, Louisiana duck hunters will again have a 60-day duck season and a liberal six birds per day limit.

Here are those dates: WEST ZONE: Nov. 9-Dec. 8 (30 days) and Dec. 21-Jan. 19 (30 days). EAST ZONE (includes Catahoula Lake): Nov. 16-Dec. 1 (16 days) and Dec. 14-Jan. 26 (44 days).

A couple of species whose numbers are below average have special restrictions.

Canvasbacks are completely off limits to hunters while pintails will be legal during the first split of the West Zone and the first 30 days of the East Zone (Nov. 16-Dec. 1 and Dec. 14-27). The daily bag of six ducks can include no more than four mallards (of which only two may be hens) three mottled ducks, one black duck, two wood ducks, one pintail (during specified open & youth seasons) three scaup (dos gris) and two redheads.

The daily limit for coots or poule’ deau is 15. Daily bag for mergansers is five of which only one can be a hooded merganser. That limit is in addition to the limits for ducks.

Possession limits are twice the daily bag limits and shooting hours are one half-hour before sunrise to sunset. There are two special early seasons – a nine-day season for teal and a two-day youth-only hunt. The early season for blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal runs Sept. 21-29 with a daily bag limit of four. During the teal season there are also early seasons for certain other waterfowl including king and clapper rails (limit 15); Sora and Virginia rails (daily and possession limit 25) and common and purple gallinules (limit 15). Youth hunt dates are West Zone Nov. 2-3 and East Zone Nov. 9-10. Only hunters under 16 are allowed to shoot during the youth dates and must be supervised by an adult.

Dove season kicks it off with the first of three splits: Sept. 7-15, Oct. 12-Nov. 24 and Dec. 21-Jan. 6. The daily bag limit is 12 for mourning and Eurasian collared ring-necked doves.

Shooting hours on each of the opening weekends are noon until sunset and one half-hour before sunrise to sunset all other days. New this year is the open season for ringed-necked and Eurasian collared doves. There are no bag limits on those two species so long as a fully feathered wing and/or head remain attached.

Otherwise they will be included in the 12 birds mourning doves limit.

There are other regulations in place for the first time that hunters should know. Deer hunters in West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Iberville parishes will be under a three-year experimental 6-point or better rule.

Under this rule a legal buck is defined as having at least six points that each measure at least one inch long. Each point must also exceed the width of its base to be legally accepted. The only exception is when a buck has spikes measuring three inches or less.

This rule does not apply to Sherburne WMA.

Another new restriction is a prohibition of hunting guides and outfitters operating on state Wildlife Management Areas. Also the use of ATVs weighing more than 750 pounds, longer than 85 inches or wider than 48 inches will no longer be allowed on WMAs. ATVs are also prohibited on WMAs between March 1 and Aug. 31 except on specified trails.

Small game seasons have also been set.

Quail: Nov. 16-Feb. 28; Rabbit: Oct. 5-Feb. 28 and Squirrel Oct 5-Feb 9. Deer seasons for all 8 zones are outlined in the regulation pamphlet available later this month or can be viewed at www.wlf.state.la.us.

Trophy trout rumor

By now you have probably heard the story of the potential Texas State Record speckled trout that got away – intentionally. As the story goes, a Texas fisherman caught a 37.5-inch, 15 pound, 6 ounce trout on with of all things, a fly rod!

As the story goes the fish was caught in Laguna Madre, weighed it on a portable certified scale, shot some poor quality photos then released it alive causing a controversy over the credibility of the catch. You see Texas, like Louisiana, requires the fish be brought in and identified by a biologist weighed in on a state-inspected scale.

It can, however, be accepted as an International Gamefish Association World Record since as long as the scale is sent in and passes an accuracy test. The scale has apparently has been sent.

The IGFA is currently considering the catch and will have a determination sometime in the next few weeks.

DON DUBUC is the outdoors reporter for L’Observateur.