OUTDOORS

Fair game

Leslie D. Rose

     Louisiana celebrated its great anticipation for the beginning of hunting season with its 2015 Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday, Sept. 4-6.

     With just a few weeks before deer season (Sept. 19) and a little longer before small game season opens, it’s a great time to brush up on hunting regulations.

     According to the Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, shooting hours for deer hunting are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Hunters should consult Wildlife Management Area and Federal Land schedules for specific regulations and dates on those areas. A full schedule of dates is available atwlf.la.gov/hunting.

     Archery hunters will be able to begin hunting in areas eight and ten, Sept. 19 to Jan. 15. Firearm hunting begins in October in most areas, and by Nov. in all locations.

     The possession limit is not to exceed six per season (three antlered or four antlerless per season). Daily bag limit is one antlered and one antlerless (when legal).

     Small game season begins with rabbit and squirrel hunting on Oct. 3- Feb. 29. Quail may be hunted beginning Nov. 21-Feb. 29, and a second portion of squirrel season begins May 7-29, in all locations with the exception of the Kisatchie National Forest, national wildlife refuges, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property and some state WMAs.

     No hunting limits were posted for small game, largely due to the animal population and reproduction levels.

     According to the Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, a statewide quail population survey is conducted each fall. This survey is used to develop an index to the quail population for various habitat regions throughout Louisiana. Approximately forty 19-mile routes are run throughout the state in late October and early November. The routes are randomly located in five major habitat types.

     Louisiana has two  species of rabbits: eastern cottontails and swamp rabbits. Although the cottontail is considered more of an upland species and the swamp rabbit a wetland (wooded) species, both species occur within our coastal areas.

     Rabbits can have high productive rates in Louisiana when habitat and weather conditions are good.  Adult cottontails may have as many as six litters per year and young of the year may contribute another 25% to the production.

     Biologists monitored rabbit population response to rotational burning regimes on an old field alluvial site on Sherburne WMA for 6 years.  Rabbit use suggested that two or three year burning cycles were optimal for rabbits.

     Louisiana has two species of squirrel: gray squirrel and fox squirrel. However, there are two recognized subspecies of gray squirrel and 3 subspecies of the fox squirrel. In addition, melanistic (black) color phases in each species.

     In good production years, adult squirrel will have two litters, one in the spring and one in the late summer.