John Flores: Hunters can have their say during ZOOM meeting
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced in a Feb. 4 press release their intent to host a Zoom public meeting Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. to gather public comments concerning the proposed 2021-22 and 2022-23 resident game seasons, the 2021-22 Wildlife Management Area seasons, rules and regulation changes for the upcoming year, the 2022 general and WMA turkey hunting season rules and regulations, and the 2021-22 migratory bird hunting season rules and regulations.
Most hunters, once the sun of the last day of deer or waterfowl season sets and drops below the western horizon think little about the governmental process of regulations that must be approved before the next season begins. Oh sure, there are a few who pay attention to such things, but most never give the rules and hunt dates a thought until days before the season starts. And, when they find out about the changes, that’s when they start to bellyache.
It’s a shame really, because the process is arduous for a reason. But don’t get me wrong, year to year, no one is 100% satisfied with the changes, but that goes with living in a democracy. However, the public meeting opportunity is your moment to make a case for your thoughts concerning wildlife. Moreover, in doing interviews with LDWF officials over the years, you’d be surprised how much they really do listen and take into consideration your thoughts.
One of the things I found in the Notice of Intent for Hunting Seasons that impacts locals here in St. Mary Parish is the Wildlife Commissions intent to remove youth lottery deer hunting on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area and make it an “open” youth hunt.
Another change eliminates the mandatory check requirement of all deer and feral hogs harvested on the Atchafalaya Delta WMA as the Delta already has a self-clearing permit requirement to check any harvested game.
Both of these rule changes you may or may not agree with depending on your interpretation and viewpoint. Nonetheless, you can rest assured that if you say nothing these two regulations will be written in stone come next season.
Where season dates are concerned, it seems like some things never change. For example, small game season. As far back as I can remember the statewide rabbit and squirrel season has traditionally been set to open on the first Saturday in October and ends on the last day of February.
In my purview here in St. Mary Parish, the first Saturday of October is usually hot. Moreover, when I have hunted squirrels on opening day, I have gotten bit by enough red bugs (chiggers) that, quite frankly, makes me wonder why the season is set so early.
On the flip side of that, I have friends in north Louisiana who hold a traditional family squirrel shoot and wouldn’t miss an opening day. Moreover, the town of Ville Platte, in Evangeline Parish, actually holds a “Squirrel Day” the Friday before the traditional opener. It’s a big deal to this town and part of their Cajun Culture.
When it comes to public comments, where squirrels and rabbits are concerned, I’m good with the dates, why mess up a good thing over a few insect bites. You get the idea.
Deer season is another thing all together. All across the state deer season dates and bag limits are extremely generous. The Lion’s share of St. Mary Parish’s deer hunters will hunt DEER AREA 7 while some of the other deer hunters will hunt part of AREA 9.
If you’re an AREA 7 Archery hunter you will actually have 120 days Sept. 18-Jan. 15, to harvest a deer, according to the Notice of Intent. If you’re a Primitive Firearms hunter you’ll get 14 days. And, if you’re a Firearms hunter you get 79 days. That’s a lot of days to hunt deer.
The possession limit for deer is six per season, not to exceed three antlered or four antlerless per season (Note: There are AREA exceptions where you should refer to the LDWF Season and Regulations pamphlet).
This year’s Notice of Intent is essentially what hunters have seen in recent years when it comes to season dates and possession limits. But again, if you have any constructive input on Feb. 24, have at it during the Zoom meeting.
If I were to predict what the most controversial dialogue will be related to, it would have to be this year’s waterfowl season.
The Notice of Intent of proposed hunting seasons appears to have three splits in the west zone for ducks, coots and mergansers besides a Nov. 6 and 7 youth and veterans only hunt. Those splits are Nov. 13-Dec. 5, Dec. 18-Jan. 2, and Jan. 10-30.
My guess is with recent migration patterns where ducks have shown up later and later in the season, a few waterfowl hunters made enough noise where this coming season they’ll get an opportunity to hunt until the end of January along coastal Louisiana.
But you’ll get a chance to toss in your two cents and make a difference. After all, that’s what democracy is all about
To attend the Zoom meeting, go to https://wlf-la.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WvQJ-SLcSMasXEWC_gGQKw and sign up.