Public Deer Hunting In Louisiana
Uncle John on Louisiana Deer Hunting
By John Simeone
“We have some of the best deer hunting in the country, but they don’t come easy.”
H. Lavaughn Roshong told me to go over to the pine tree at the top of the hill and sit down and shut up. He suspected I’d have a deer in about half an hour. That meant any deer, as this was “Doe Day” on Fort Polk Wildlife Management area; everything was legal except spotted fawns, something not likely to be seen in the month of December.
Just as the old man predicted the pressure from other hunters brought two does streaking past broadside at 75 yards. I double tapped the lead doe with the Browning BAR .308 and I had my first Louisiana deer. It wasn’t a matter of trophies, ego, or anything else that fantasy deer hunters seem to be full of these days. All it meant was a good deer hunter made a good shot and therefore made meat. That was 17 years ago and I have never failed to harvest at least one good deer for the freezer since then. Like the majority of grass roots deer hunters I was then and still go by meat first horns later.
Some how to me and the old deer hunting family that I hunt with, trophies are something we just don’t worry about; they come when they come, by the luck of the draw. It seems I shoo
t about 50% bucks and 50% does, still by the luck of the draw. About every 5 years I bag a really nice buck, no matter what. Why, because I live here and know the woods inside and out.
Most of my deer hunting is within a 20 miles radius of my home and I hunt both public and private land. This is not trophy buck country the way a city boy would want it if he packed up his gear for a hunt of a lifetime. If you want that go to Texas or Canada.
When I first came here with the Army in 1991 there were an estimated 750,000 deer in the state. The limit was six, with some restriction on antlerless deer, but there were plenty of doe days for the meat hunters. As time passed the count jumped to what is now believed to be 1.2 million. They didn’t even have deer tags until the 2008-9 seasons and now the limit is 3 bucks and 3 does, I could care less as this is about normal take for me anyway. I’m using me as a slightly above average deer hunter, but frankly most of my friends report the same results. Therefore it is my opinion that Louisiana is great for the resident deer hunter but not so good for the non-resident expecting a trophy.
That suits me fine as I like the idea of someday seeing a buck of a lifetime walking down the trail. I have no desire to pay $20,000 to some deer farm to be allowed to shoot a penned up, almost tame, cultivated deer, no, not after 133 wild and legal deer harvests. It would not be worth the money as I have already taken deer that would be worth this much and maybe I will again. To each his own, but that’s my way.
Right now I’m seeing so few deer hunters in the woods; I’ve had to change tactics. The old timers, now me included, will go to a pre scouted area early and wait for daylight. The, not so familiar with the area, hunters will come in late and push a deer right to you. They call this a “pressure kill.” However with the lack of hunters these days it’s hard to use this technique. That’s right lack of hunters.
I got so used to hunting from a climbing tree stand that I almost forgot how to still hunt deer on the ground but now it is possible again in some of the under hunted areas. But the main thing is to know the area, the rules and regulations and the particular personality of each public use area you intend to hunt.
Get To Know The Louisiana Locals
If I were going to go hunting in my area of Western Louisiana I would want to get to know some of the locals. It is illegal for someone to get paid to guide someone on a wildlife management area so the best thing is a do it yourself hunt. You would need an R.V. and be prepared to stay at least a week.
The best place to hook up is Pecan Acers R.V. Park in Rosepine Louisiana on Highway 171. There you would meet up with Bobby Pruitt and he could tell you where to go or show you how to make contact for any information you need. This is the epicenter of the deer hunting in this part of the state. If you leave the park by 4:00 am you can get on a stand before day light on the areas I’m about to mention.
Fort Polk WMA, requires a daily check in and a special post permit along with the state WMA permit. So this requires at least one extra trip to Alligator Lake on ft Polk to get your maps and permits. This permit is also good for nearby Peason Ridge WMA. This is a choice deer area, but only with one big problem. You have to live there to know when its open due to constant military training, and you have to call in everyday to find out.
Clear Creek WMA is only about 5 miles from Pecan Acers, and is another choice deer area. This is where knowing the area will get you a pressure kill as there are more hunters there. The best time to hunt Clear Creek would be during the early Bow Season and Primitive Season as there are so few of these types of hunters the only place you will see them is in the deer camp. During modern gun season however, better bring plenty of Hunter Orange.
The largest public area is Kistachi National Forest with parts of it all over Western and Central Louisiana. There are several zones all with different regulations. Hunter pressure is medium to heavy, but if you know the area you can get away from the crowds. This would include Red Dirt National Wild Life Refuge.
Now these are my favorites, but there are over 70 public hunting areas in Louisiana, its all about studying a regulation and information book and then getting to know the area.
Most parts of Louisiana are thick tropical like forest. When you’re not in the “Piney Woods” you will think you are in a Vietnam jungle. In a place like Thistlewait WMA which is a choice deer area, you will see deer pellets everywhere as the deer are many, but even from a tree stand it is hard to see them due to the palmettos covering the ground.
The best place for trophies, well your guess is as good as mine because you just never know what will walk up on you. The big ones are out there, but don’t hold your breath. You can go for two weeks and never see a deer and suddenly the woods are full of them. The best trick is to take your eating deer first and save at least one buck tag for the big one. All of my big ones were taken in December, but you just never know.
Equipment: You can hunt with any with Vertical and Horizontal bows, Muzzle Loaders and Primitive single shot cartridge rifles, handguns, shotguns with both buckshot or slugs, and any center fire modern rifle, check the regs for specifics. You will need a GPS and get good with a map; getting lost in a triple canopy forest is no fun. The weather can go from hot summer to pure winter in 24 hours so be ready for anything. In these thick areas bow hunting must me carefully thought out, as an arrow hit deer may run into an impenetrate able briar patch. Just set up in more open areas as they do exist. This is the reason you hear me talk about bigger than usual deer rifles and the use of buckshot. We have a new Deer Processing Plant in New Llano, a suburb of Leesville and it’s not expensive; you can even take the whole deer there if you need to.
Tagging the deer has been made easy; you just do it on the internet and very user friendly. Be advised Mr. T the Game warden is just plain mean, I know I deliberately piss him off every year so he will catch all the slob hunters. All that stuff about crossbow hunting pretty well did it, so he should be good and fired up for this season. Just read and heed the regulation book and you will be just fine. Any particular questions you have can be answered on the Foremost Hunting forum, or contact the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Don’t forget to check out our special youth deer hunts just for the kids, on both public and private land.
Quality Deer Management, yea right. It has been tried but there is just too many things working against it. If you have a 10,000 acres fenced in and 5 million dollars to play with you still will be hard pressed to produce a 170 class buck in Louisiana. Most of there sacred cows croak in the first year due to all the microscopic critters that invade cultivated whitetails. On the other hand you can park your truck and walk 200 yards off the road on one of the WMAs and get lucky on a truly wild Louisiana Buck, as many hunters do every year. It is like winning the lottery or going to one of our Casinos, sometime you just win big and other time you don’t. What you will find is that deer hunting in Louisiana is a total experience, that will make you a better hunter and you will have a lot of fun trying….Pass it on.
About John Simeone
- John was instrumental in the legalization of the crossbow when he wrote a fact finding mission for Senator John Smith of Vernon parish, which led to the crossbow inclusion for all hunters in 2008. Most recently John took up the cause of handicapped hunters with “The Way Outfitters” as their outdoor writer. Learn More About John Simeone