Some of the year’s hottest weather in Louisiana occurs during the oppressive days of August and September. Sure, fall is just around the corner but you wouldn’t know it by glancing at the thermometer with temperatures typically bumping the century mark.
Even though the weather will be hot and miserable, you can bet there will be one group of folks with an eye on the calendar. You’ll see them out in their back yards, sitting on make-do elevated platforms, slinging arrows at targets. They’re Louisiana’s bow hunters and they’re doing what they have to do to get ready for the upcoming bow season which begins, if you can believe it, in just a matter of days.
They’ll be getting in condition for what one bowhunter told me is the “short” game. In golf, it’s the accuracy of the putter that usually separates the hackers from the experts. In bow hunting, the archer’s bow is his putter. He can’t expect to score a “birdie” (or would that be a “buckie”?) if he’s not proficient at shooting accurately from within the range of a bow, which is usually 35 yards or closer. Any deer outside that range is a deer to be watched, not shot at. Thus, becoming proficient with his archery equipment within ethical ranges is a must, and like in golf, there is no substitute for practice, practice and more practice, even if sweat is dripping off your nose and you’re flirting with heat stroke.
Bowhunters know that the deer he’ll be after in a few weeks is quite an adaptable creature. You can cut their woods and they simply move over to an adjoining tract, returning to the clear cut when they’re hungry to feast on succulent new growth that explodes when the forest canopy is opened.
One factor of nature that takes deer longer to adapt to is weather changes. During years of drought, especially in growing season, fewer fawns are born, which impacts the deer situation years down the road. Fewer fawns born this year translate to fewer adult animals to hunt the next couple of seasons.
Another problem not just bowhunters but all deer hunters have faced over the past few years has been milder than normal winters. This situation means that in general, deer have more to eat because succulent plant growth on which they feed lasts on into winter when in normal years, deer are moving about looking for something to eat. During warm weather when the rut is going on, bucks still chase and breed does, but most of the activity is at night when temperatures are more
comfortable. Frustrated hunters hunker down over scrape lines and food plots only to be disappointed.
However, Mother Nature is an equalizer. Granted, the past few winters have been milder and frankly, we’re due for a change. We may not get it, but darn it, we’re due.
It will be interesting to see just how the conditions of last deer season that favored deer and negatively impacted deer hunters will have a bearing on the upcoming deer season. Weather that was too warm and a bumper crop of wildlife foods throughout season meant that deer didn’t have to
move about to find succulent forage. Thus, fewer were harvested. I’m no wildlife biologist but if I had to wager a guess, I’d think that we should have a better season this year.
Why do I think that? Over most of the state, the deer harvest was down last season, which means that more than a few wise old bucks lived to get another year older. With another year of age, this translates out to another year of growing antler mass, the exception being a deer that is past his prime and is basically going downhill.
With the odds hopefully being more in the hunter’s favor this season than last, those hunters who begin their seasons early have a better chance to collect their venison. No group of hunters in the state begins their season earlier than bow hunters. The first Saturday in October is opening day for the majority of the state although some areas will be open as early as mid-September. (Check current regulations for exact dates and areas.)
If you’re a serious bow hunter, you’ve already been out there, slinging arrows at paper targets and tweaking your bow so that when the deer you’re looking for steps out, you’ll be ready.
CANEY LAKE – Bass have been best fishing at night on dark spinners and soft plastics. They are fair to good early mornings on topwater lures with square bill crank baits, spinners and soft plastics working best later. Some bass are schooling and hitting shad imitations. Crappie have been best around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bream are slow. For information contact Caney Lake Landing at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – No report. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE –Some are still catching nice bass around the brush on spinners and flipping jigs. The crappie are scattered around the brush. Bream have slowed. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water level is quite low. Bass are slow to fair; some crappie are being caught around submerged tops on jigs. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie have been fair to good fishing shiners or jigs 8 feet deep in 10-12 foot water. Bass are best early mornings along the grass lines with topwater lures and jerk baits. Bream are slow. Catfish continue to be caught fishing cold worms and night crawlers off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – The lake is being lowered. Stripers are occasionally schooling and fishing with shad imitation lures picking up a few in the coves early mornings or late afternoons. Bream fishing has been slow. Crappie have been best fishing around the piers on gray jigs. 8-14 deep water with some good ones reported. Also at night fishing under the lights while the bass have been best early mornings on topwater lures and at night on dark plastic worms and spinner
baits with one over 11 pounds reported. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Fishing for catfish has improved. Crappie are fair on the south end. No report on bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water level is falling and quite low. Some catfish have been reported and commercial fishermen are catching buffalo. Crappie are slow. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.