There are sights and sounds from the past that trigger memories I can’t help but long to see return. When we turn on the news and see all the turmoil taking place in our country, I want to see the return to those days of innocence, peace and tranquility.
I want to be able to walk out into the field and see a meadow lark explode under my feet, its undulating flight transporting it to a fence nearby where a few yards down the fence line sits a
shrike, or as we called them, “butcher bird”. I haven’t seen either of these two species in years.
What happened to them?
The absence of another bird hurts my heart more than missing the meadow lark and shrike. It wasn’t too many years ago when I would leave my home for an early morning walk down the road and hear the plaintive whistle of a bobwhite quail. It’s been years since I heard one. Where did they go and why don’t I get to hear them any longer?
There is nothing I can do to bring back the meadow lark and shrike but I am optimistic about something being done, not only nationally but locally to work to bring back the quail. An organization, Quail Forever, is pulling out all the stops to try and help fashion the recovery of these beloved birds.
Sabrina Claeys is a field biologist for the national organization who works tirelessly to promote the return of quail to our world. The mission statement of Quail Forever is “to conserve quail, pheasants and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public access, education and conservation advocacy.”
“The main problem as we see it for the loss of quail has to do with habitat; we’re losing it faster than we can create it,” said Claeys.
As a biologist, Claeys had heard it all when it comes to possible explanations as to why quail numbers had plummeted.
“We hear the problem is fire ants, more predators impacting quail numbers as well as habitat loss. Losing habitat favored by quail seems to be the major problem,” she said.
I can remember during my growing-up days out on the rural route that practically everybody had a garden or truck patch with grassy edges along fence rows. You could walk out to such areas and just about always send a covey of bobwhites airborne. Today, clean farming and clearing out the fence rows have taken from quail the habitat they need for rearing broods.
Think about the ‘back forty’ and how it has changed over the years. Those areas provided ideal nesting areas and many of these sites have been converted to pine stands that don’t provide nesting and brooding areas. Quail Forever is working to reclaim some of that old habitat.
“Another thing that has hindered the maintenance of quail populations is the absence of prescribed fire which not only removes undesirable plant life but opens areas where quail thrive best,” Claeys added.
One way that Quail Forever strives to see its mission become reality is the establishing of local chapters. The Piney Hills Quail Forever chapter is based in Ruston and holds regular meetings to discuss problems and possible solutions. Search on-line for information on the local chapter and how you can become a part in helping return the plaintive call of the bobwhite back
to our area.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream fishing has been fair fishing worms or crickets around the trees. No report on bass or crappie. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water is at pool stage. Crappie fishing has been rather slow with best catches made around submerged tops in the river on shiners or jigs. Bass are fair fishing the run-
outs with topwater lures early and crank baits and soft plastics later. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing has been improving on jigs or shiners as the fish are moving from the flats to the edges of the deeper channels. Bass are still schooling some in the mornings with some caught along the banks on topwater, soft plastics and crank baits. Bream are fair while catfish are biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Crappie fishing has been good on shiners or jigs with best catches coming from the 1000 foot channel and around the mouth of Isaac Creek with some nice sized slabs being caught. Bass are schooling some with shad imitation lures working best. Some are also being caught skipping a jig under the boat docks and piers. Catfishing has been fair to good
on set hooks using small bream for bait. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or
Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Bream fishing has been fair with the fish scattered and not concentrated in one spot. Crickets and worms are picking up a few. Crappie continue to be hang around the deeper tops and are fair on shiners or jigs. Bass are schooling with the some of the schoolers being in the 3-4 pound range with topwaters and shad imitation lures working best. No report on catfish.. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Crappie fishing is improving a bit on shiners or jigs around the boat slips and trees. A few bream have been caught on worms and crickets. Bass are fair with some in the 5 pound range reported. Catfishing has been good on a variety of baits. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is quite low. Crappie are fair with best catches made in the afternoons with some real slabs reported. Bass are fair while catfishing is good. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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