Sitting down at my computer on this past Tuesday to begin this column, I am reminded that the day’s date, March 15, is a date when lots of folks use extra care. It’s the Ides of March.
History reveals that actually, Ides of March signifies the date of the first new moon of the
month and ancients celebrated the day with gaiety and rejoicing.
Somehow the term became a bad omen. It became associated with the Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar” where a warning was given to Caesar to “beware the Ides of March.” March 15 was the day he was assassinated.
Okay, so what do the Ides of March have to do with turkey hunting. Not a thing that I can
think of except instead of Caesar being assassinated, around this time of year around the country, lots of gobblers are meeting the same fate. I have never taken a gobbler on March 15 but of the gobblers I have to my credit, eleven were taken in the month of March, two incidentally, on March 29, my birthday.
I got my first buck in 1967, my biggest buck in 1998 with dozens scattered down through
the years. I have no record of the actual number or dates I got these deer. With turkeys, however, I have a record of every single one of the 41 gobblers I have downed, photos of each, date taken and location and stats on each. Does that tell you anything? It means that hunting wild turkeys has been my passion since that first one came in strutting to my gun on April 13, 1992.
I was hunting at the invitation of an outdoor writer friend, John E. Phillips who arranged
the trip for me. I had never hunted turkeys before and I didn’t want to go at first because April is when the bream are bedding and big bass were in the shallows. When he dangled a few juicy tidbits in front of me, like air fare, guide, gun and all the amenities, I decided maybe the bream
could wait a few weeks.
When my guide started calling that morning, I heard the first gobble I had ever heard and
watched as a big Alabama longbeard came strutting up, white head shining like a softball an
early morning sun highlighting his iridescent colors, I experienced something I had never felt
while hunting. My heart was pounding so hard I was afraid the turkey could hear the beat.
When my shot was true and as I was standing on the neck of my first flopping gobbler, I made a vow right then and there that this was something I was going to learn even if I ran off every gobbler in the country while I was learning.
That was in 1992 and I killed my last gobbler in 2017, a span of 25 years. I have been
fortunate to get to travel around the country after gobblers and have been blessed by being able to take the four sub-species in the country, Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande and Merriams, laying claim to the Wild Turkey Grand Slam.
The Eastern sub-species, obviously, has predominated in my records because they are
located in not only Louisiana but in more states than the other birds. Of the 41 gobblers I have
taken, 25 of them were Easterns followed by 13 Rio Grande, two Merriams and one Osceola.
So what do the Ides of March have to do with turkey hunting? It means that my mid-
March, turkey hunters need to be in the woods listening for early morning gobbles from the
roost, scouting to look for not only turkeys but sign they are there, things like tracks, droppings, dislodged feathers, strut markings.
Season opens in Area A on April 2 so it’s high time for you to forget about any jinx or
bad omen and be in the woods locating birds you’ll be hunting in a few weeks. As far as I know
there is no such thing as the Ides of April.
CANEY LAKE – With cold windy weather this week, both bass and crappie have slowed down
a bit. However, now that temperatures are moderating, look for both to begin moving to shallow spawning areas. Bass should be best on jigs and creature baits while crappie will hit both shiners or jigs. No report on bream or catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – The bass are in transition with some moving shallow and some still deep
in the channels. Crank baits and soft plastics are best bets. Ditto for the crappie as they’re
beginning to move toward the shallows for the spring spawn while some are still holding back.
Some have also been caught below the spillway in the bayou. Shiners and jigs are both working. Bream have not started yet but catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Crappie fishing has been good on shiners and jigs with some still hanging out in deep water out from the dam. Best fishing has been at night fishing shiners around
the lighted piers. Bass are starting to move more shallow with best catches made on spinners and plastic lizards in water around 5 feet deep. A few stripers have been caught in deep water on shad imitations. No report on catfish or bream. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Some good bass and crappie are still being caught this week. Contact Honey Hole Tackle at 323-8707 for information.
BLACK BAYOU – Fishing is slow. No report this week. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-
8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is high and rising. No fishing reports this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been good on cold worms with crappie fishing starting to improve in the coves in fairly shallow water on jigs or shiners. Ditto for bass are they are moving shallow as well. No report on bream. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at
LAKE ST. JOHN – The water is slowly rising again and boat launching is now possible.
Catfishing has been good while crappie and bass have been fair. No report on bream. For
information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is high and over the roads but should begin falling next week.
Look for good fishing once it gets down. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-
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