Outdoor Corner: Let the hunt begin!

Lyle Johnson
The smile tells it all! Canaan Watts with his first squirrel shot with the .410 I took my first one with.

We are truly blessed here in Louisiana to be able to fish year round without any seasons, except for some federal and state regulations for certain species in the salt water due to harvest regulations. Weather and possibly that thing called work are the only things that might stop us from fishing when we get the angst.

Hunting is regulated by seasons due to migration patterns, nesting and birthing habits, and numbers of birds and animals available for harvest. All these regulations keep us from over-harvesting for consumption. The hunting season is upon us. Let the hunt begin!!

Two Saturdays ago the opening of statewide dove season in both the north and south zones took place. The south zone opens again on Oct. 6 and runs to Nov. 25, and from Dec. 16 to Jan 14. The north zone runs from Sept. 1 to Sept. 23, Oct. 6 to Nov. 11, and Dec. 16 to Jan. 14. The daily bag limit is 15 per day with a 45-bird possession limit.

There are some fields that are leased by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that are available to hunt on opening day. Log on to http://wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting for all the information to have a successful day hunting for doves.

This weekend our teal season opens for sixteen days, Sept. 15 through Sept. 30 statewide. The state is divided into three zones for duck hunting: east, west and coastal. All three zones are open for teal hunting at the same time.

The daily bag limit is a very liberal six either blue wing or green wing teal this year with a three-day possession limit. We’ve had no hurricane or tropical storm, so the marshes are full of grass and feed for the teal to feast on and are set up for a pretty good year for hunting ducks.

The great thing about teal hunting in September in Louisiana is the fact that the fishing is usually spectacular. Most folks that spend their time in the marshes hunting teal, make it a cast and blast sort of thing that includes a fishing trip in the mix as well.

Lots of guide services offer a package deal that includes a teal hunt in the morning with a great lunch after the hunt. The day is rounded off with a foray into the marsh where the hunt just took place for an afternoon of spectacular fishing.

My personal favorite for hunting is the opening morning of squirrel season, and my preferred method in the early season is still hunting. The season opens on Oct. 7 and runs to Feb. 28.

My first memories of hunting are with my dad, Jerry Lyle, using a .410 he bought for us six boys to use. I killed my first squirrel with it and still own the gun. My son Wesley and grandson Canaan killed their first one with the same gun, and if God gives me the grace to live long enough one of my great-grandkids will do the same.

The anticipation of being in the woods on that first morning never gets old for me. Hopefully it will be a cool morning, a little damp to keep the noise down and no mosquitos. I’ll get in the woods a little early to find a good spot that allows the best vision for as many trees as possible.

Then it begins, the wait-for-it to get light enough for the squirrels to wake up and get their breakfast on. My heart really gets pumping when I hear a branch move or an acorn hit the ground. It might be the sound of dew hitting the ground as one of those bushy-tailed jumps from limb to limb, or I see something move out of the corner of my eye.

My biggest problem is waiting for it to get light enough to get off a good shot. Usually another squirrel shows itself, then I have to make a decision about which one to concentrate on. But eventually it happens, and the first squirrel hits the ground after the shot. It’s official, the hunt is on!

Of course as always, hunting safety is a very important aspect. Loaded guns have an inherent danger just because of the make-up. Please make sure your hunting guns are unloaded at the proper time and be very careful handling them while in use.

Duck hunting adds another component as it is performed on the water. That adds another whole set of potential problems. Personal flotation is a very important aspect in the equation. An accident can be made worse with a person or people exposed to the water without a life jacket being worn at the proper times.

As the weather cools down, hypothermia becomes another problem. Life sustaining body temperature is quickly lowered to a dangerous level by a prolonged stay in the cold water. A PFD can help keep your head above water in case of unconsciousness until help arrives. Unfortunately, we’ll probably get to read about a shooting accident or a drowning from a boating incident. Don’t let it be you!

Above all, let someone know where you will be on your outing and what time you can be expected to return. Many lives have been lost because nobody knew when and where people were. On the other hand, many have been saved because rescue teams knew where to look.

We have a great state with much to enjoy. Along with that comes the responsibility to do it safely. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman’s League meeting held at Chef KD’s on Hwy 74 starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Ducks Unlimited Banquet: Sept 6—Annual DU Banquet held at Lamar Dixon Expo Center 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Call Paul at 504-481-0878 or Alden at 225-235-1062 for info. www.ducks.org

AO Kids Fall Fest: Sept 15—Anything Outdoor Helping Kids Fall Fest fundraiser will be held at the St Amant KC Hall. $5.00 entry. Food & drinks, silent auction, a blood drive, vendor booths, and plenty of fun for the kids. A cook-off for mini & reg pot jambalaya along with four live bands including Kenny Cornett will perform, as well. Find them on Facebook for all the info.

CCA Ascension Banquet: Sept 20 at Lamar Dixon Expo Center starting at 5:30 p.m. for social gathering. Dinner and auction to follow. Contact Nolan Rynerson at 225-952-9200 or www.ccalouisiana.com.

National Hunting & Fishing Day: Sept 22—8 a.m.-1 p.m. at Waddill Outdoor Education Center, 4212 N Flannery Road in Baton Rouge. Try your skills at the shooting ranges, fishing ponds, and boating activities, as well as learn about wildlife with live animals. Call 225-765-2927.

Delta Waterfowl Banquet: November 2 at Lamar Dixon Expo Center starting at 6 p.m. with dinner starting at 7:30. Contact Kristen Latiolais at 225 315-3023, or email kristen.latiolais@la.gov