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Reporting deer harvest critically important

by Minden Press-Herald

I still recall the days a few decades ago when finding a deer track around Goldonna was virtually unheard of. There were so few deer that not only was there no season to hunt them, the rare sighting of a deer track was community news. Folks turned out to go have a look at such a rare find.

What a difference a few decades make. With the implementation 40 years or so ago of trapping and transfer of deer to areas with good habitat but no deer, the population of deer has taken off, perhaps exceeding expectations. Today I seldom make the five mile drive from my home to town late afternoon without seeing a deer.

On the area where I hunt on our Jackson Parish club, I placed a trail camera out near one of my stands a week ago with the camera aimed at a pile of corn and rice bran I placed there. Last Saturday, one week later, I checked my camera and found 179 images of deer, deer and more deer that came out to nibble on the feed.

Therefore, it was rather disturbing to me when I read recently that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) was considering reducing the length of deer season along with reducing the season bag limit. The reason for this possible action was disturbing; indication was that the deer population may be declining. However, the real reason is not enough successful deer hunters were taking the time to report their deer harvest to the department, indicating that with a smaller harvest report, the assumption is that perhaps the deer herd has diminished.

I contacted Scott Durham, Deer Study Leader for the LDWF for clarification of this disturbing situation.

“I want to look at the deer harvest reported to us from around the state and I’m concerned that our numbers reported are not reflecting the true picture of our harvest,” Durham said.

“This is why the reporting system was started to help us collect data and we depend heavily on deer hunters to report accurately on the deer they kill. If we have real declines in any area of the state, we would consider any measure to make sure we protect our resource and have plenty of deer for everybody to hunt. I every parish, we know the harvest count by year, bucks and does. It is absolutely critical that we have accurate numbers. If hunters are not reporting their deer taken, it gives us a false picture and makes it problematic for us to create harvest recommendations that are accurare,” Durham added.

“There are no plans, at least in the near future, to reduce season length or bag limits, especially in your part of the country, in Areas 1 and 2. We’re not too concerned about those areas but we do have reason for concern in areas of south Louisiana, especially Areas 4 and 9.”

Louisiana has a reporting system in place that is easy to utilize, especially as compared to other states, according to Durham.

“Hunters who take a deer can go on-line or make a call to report their harvest. We have people standing by to receive these reports. You have seven days to report your harvest while in some states, you have to report within 24 hours. It’s very simple; you bag a deer, just tag it and then report it as soon as possible but you have a week to turn your information in,” said Durham.

Here in north Louisiana, we have deer running out our ears but if hunters are not reporting what they take, we face the possibility sometime in the future of seeing season length and season limits reduced. It all depends on hunters doing that simple little task of tagging and then reporting their deer.

Let’s all do a better job of reporting, okay?

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