Outdoor Corner: Hunters for the Hungry Sept. 26

Lyle Johnson

Louisiana’s nickname is the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Another popular nickname is the “Bayou State.” Both names have appeared on our vehicle license plates. Sportsman’s Paradise is still on our plates.

Both nicknames have been well earned. For the year of 2021, the calculation for hunting licenses, tags and out of state licenses will exceed 546,000, for a total of more than $9.5 million. Fishing license, tags, permits and out of state licenses topped 977,000 for a whopping $11.4 million.

That, my friends, is a lot of fishing and hunting. My mom and dad had eight kids, and he loved to fish and hunt. Fishing was his favorite, as he built quite a reputation for bass fishing. But with 10 mouths to feed, sustenance was a big part of the equation.

Ryder Gates caught this big bass Sept. 11 in a pond in French settlement, on a crank bait. He said he knew there were big fish in there, so he started throwing a bigger bait and caught this 6-pounder fishing with his dad, Ryan.

My passion for fishing and hunting was birthed from childhood, and I really enjoy it as a sport. But my passion for using the fish I catch and game I hunt as a big part of my diet never left me.

I love to set the hook on a fish and reel it in. I love the adrenalin rush when a hear or see a limb shaking in an oak tree on opening morning of squirrel season. Both sports bring me great pleasure. Not only in taking part in the sport but preparing the haul for the table just as much.

Lots of folks in Louisiana enjoy hunting and fishing as well. Just look at the numbers. There are lots of freezers in Louisiana homes to hold the fish and game taken each year by enthusiastic hunters and anglers. That usually means a surplus in those freezers. 

So in 1994, a group of local hunters gathered to discuss sharing the game and fish they harvested each year with the needy in the Greater Baton Rouge area. The hunters contacted the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the donations that first year were given to their dining hall.

Soon after, the response from our generous hunters was so great that the dining room’s storage was pushed to the limits. So much so that the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was enlisted to help.

Since then, Hunters For The Hungry has increased the awareness of the program throughout the state by partnering with all five major food banks in Louisiana. By conducting multiple programs, such as the Clean Out Your Freezer Day and Freshly Harvested Game and Fish Programs, this great organization is providing thousands of meals for Louisiana families.

Thanks to the donations of our more than generous outdoor enthusiasts, this past year (2020/2021), we were able process over 25,000 pounds of donated deer meat and market programs like Clean Out Your Freezer Day, which brought in another 25,000 pounds of donated protein frozen goods.

Hunters for the hungry partners with FEEDING LOUISIANA, which was created by the five regional food banks in the state to support their collaborative efforts. They distribute the bounty to more than 500 agencies in all 64 Parishes in Louisiana.

Many Louisiana processors participate in the Freshly Harvested Game program, wherein the hunter can drop off deer to be processed at no cost to the hunter. The Food Bank or other local agencies collect the meat from the processor for distribution, and the invoice from the processors is sent to Hunters For The Hungry.

Additionally, hunters may choose to keep the backstrap. We encourage donations of freshly harvested game throughout the hunting season. Some processors require the deer to be field dressed, while others will do the skinning for you.

We recommend that you call the processor beforehand and ask about their requirements. The nearest processor is Tramonte’s Meat & Seafood in East Baton Rouge Parish. The phone number is (225) 751-7665.

You can even buy a custom Hunters For The Hungry Louisiana license plate at the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. Your proceeds will help us process more bounty and market the mission of H4H.

Hunters For The Hungry’s mission is to encourage hunters and fishermen to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors by sharing their bounty of wild game and fish in order to combat hunger.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday it’s time to empty your freezer to help those less fortunate. All items collected will be donated to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and will be distributed to its local agencies. 

Cabela’s in Gonzales will be our local drop-off point. Other locations nearby will be Mike the Tiger’s Cage, LSU Campus; Bowie Outfitters, 8630 Perkins Rd.; CCA Louisiana, 12241 Industriplex; Bass Pro Shops, Denham Springs: Baton Rouge Fire Department, 835 Sharp Rd.; Baton Rouge Fire Department, 5758 Claycut Rd.; Central Fire Department, 11646 Sullivan Rd.; St. George Fire Department, 7027 Antioch Rd. and St. George Fire Department, 9214 Jefferson Highway.

After a couple of months of not fishing off the pier followed by Hurricane Ida, I tried my fortune this week to see if the catfish would be back to feeding after the nasty water and the fish kill.

The rain after the storm was probably not what most folks needed, still trying to recover from the storm damage. But it was what our waterways needed. They needed a good flushing out, and we got it.

First fish caught after the two storms and fish kill. A 3.5-pound blue cat gobbled up a fat night crawler.

So off to a local store to get some night crawlers, as I couldn’t catch a shad with my cast net. The first fish I caught was a 3-1/2 pound blue cat, which gave me great hope that the fish kill might not have been as bad as it could have been.

I added five more catfish to the live box that made Sunday lunch after church -- the first fresh fish we’ve had in a while. Coupled with some homemade onion rings and fried jalapeno peppers, man that was good.

If you anticipate killing or catching some game or fish and there is still some in your freezer, consider donating it to Hunters for the Hungry. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Outdoor Calendar

  • Dove Season: South Zone, through Sept. 18; North Zone: through Sept. 26. Daily bag limit 15, possession limit 45.
  • Teal Season: through Sept. 26 statewide. Daily bag limit 15, possession limit 45.
  • Squirrel and Rabbit Season: Oct. 2 throug Feb. 28. Daily bag limit eight; possession 24.
  • Deer/Archery: Oct. 1 through Jan. 31, State Deer Areas 1, 2 and 4; Oct. 1 through 15, State Deer Areas 5, 6 and 9, bucks only, then Oct. 16 through Feb. 15. Through Jan. 15, State Deer areas 3, 7, 8 and 10. Either-sex take allowed except where noted.
  • 20th annual Jacob Dugas Bass Tournament: Sept. 25 out of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville; $200 entry fee for pick-your-partner teams. Optional big bass $10, no bass $10. Find them on Facebook or call Curt Parent (225) 337-2996 or Philip Waguespack (225) 571-4169
  • South Louisiana Highpower Club Match: Sept. 26, 7:30 a.m. squadding; 8 a.m. on the range, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Range, St. Landry Road, Gonzales. NRA match rifle or service rifle, 200-yard/50-rounds match course. Fee: $12 members, $15 nonmembers, $5 juniors; $15 annual club & Civilian Marksmanship Program membership (allows purchases from CMP). Email Rick Mol: southlahighpower@hotmail.com

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net