Hunting

Wood Duck Box Program

Research in wetland forests has indicated that suitable nesting cavities for wood ducks are very limited. Current timber management practices in the southeast U.S. dictate that cavity densities will increase only slowly, if at all. Consequently, populations of wood ducks in the southeast, including Louisiana, may be limited by the number of suitable nesting cavities.

The Waterfowl Program initiated a wood duck box program in 1990 and currently manages over 2,750 nesting boxes. Boxes are mounted on pipe, donated by oil companies, with sheet metal predator guards and installed primarily on LDWF WMAs and also on select private wetlands, state parks and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properties. Boxes are placed in or proximal to wetlands with good brood habitat in an effort to increase survival rates of young.

Waterfowl Program personnel work with a network of 25 LDWF biologists and specialists that check boxes at least twice/year to monitor annual production. Data from nesting boxes are computerized and summary reports developed. This program is increasing local breeding populations of wood ducks and increasing use of our WMAs by wood ducks. Hooded merganser nesting in boxes is also increasing on some WMAs. Program personnel conduct interagency wood duck workshops in conjunction with federal and state wildlife personnel to provide updated information and techniques to program participants. Personnel also work with university staff to facilitate wood duck research projects.

Wood duck population monitoring is difficult due to the bird's use of densely vegetated habitats. Banding is the primary tool for sampling wood duck populations and provides important information for management. Banding data, when combined with population and harvest data, also provide vital information on the life history, population status and ecology of wood ducks. LDWF typically bands nesting hens while checking nesting boxes, and all captured birds during the pre-hunting season period (July-August). The number of wood ducks banded each year, but over 1,700 have been banded the past 2 years, and Louisiana has banded more wood ducks since 1990 than any other southeastern state.

The preseason banding program is directed toward "local" wood ducks to obtain management information specific to wood ducks from Louisiana and the southern part of the flyway, including the recovery distribution, recovery rates, and survival rates. These data, along with reproduction data help to assess the affect of harvest on wood duck populations.

Waterfowl Program

The Waterfowl Program is coordinated by two biologists, the Waterfowl Study Leader and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) Coordinator and involves many aspects of waterfowl/wetlands management, research, and monitoring. Due to the migratory nature of ducks and geese, many of these activities are coordinated with other states, multiple federal agencies and private conservation groups. Consequently, Waterfowl Program personnel represent LDWF on various committees which are involved in formulating state, regional and national programs that have impacts on wetlands and waterfowl.

Objective

The objective of the Waterfowl Program is to manage waterfowl resources and wetlands to provide for optimum wildlife benefits and quality outdoor experiences.

Louisiana is arguably the most important wintering area for waterfowl in the United States. Hordes of ducks and geese have utilized the coastal bays and marshes, flooded swamps, agricultural fields, inland lakes, river backwaters and oxbows for hundreds of years. Those habitats provide for the needs of a large proportion of Mississippi Flyway waterfowl during migration and winter, and for those of breeding wood ducks, mottled ducks, and a growing number of whistling ducks. The wetlands of Louisiana and their associated waterfowl attract hunters, birdwatchers, and scientists alike.

Waterfowl hunting is incredibly popular in Louisiana, and our harvest ranks at or near the top. According to the most recent USFWS Waterfowl Harvest Report, duck harvest in Louisiana ranked 1st and 4th in 2003 and 2004 respectively. That duck-hunting activity brings a lot of economic activity to the State. The latest evaluation of the economic impact of waterfowl hunting in the United States showed that hunters spent 1-million days and $105,000,000 hunting ducks in Louisiana in 2001.

In order to meet public demands for this resource, Waterfowl Program personnel offer technical assistance to improve wetland habitat on public and private lands to provide food for wintering ducks and geese, nest-sites and brood-rearing habitat for breeding wood ducks, and to improve hunting opportunities. They coordinate and participate in research efforts with other LDWF personnel, university staff, government agencies, and conservation organizations. Several population monitoring surveys are conducted by Program personnel to develop population indices, track population trends and document distribution of waterfowl. Lastly, biologists in the Waterfowl Program are an integral part of the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Committee that gathers and interprets the technical data used to set annual waterfowl hunting regulations.

Resident Small Game Program

The Resident Small Game Program involves management, research and population monitoring activities for bobwhite quail, rabbits, and squirrels. Personnel also develop and participate in the wild turkey research conducted by the Department. Cody Cedotal (ccedotal@wlf.la.gov) coordinates the Resident Small Game Program.

To meet public demands for resident small game, the Resident Small Game Program and Technical Services Program offer technical assistance to improve habitat on public and private lands. Program biologists also conduct research to assess and improve management. Several population monitoring surveys are conducted by regional and program biologists to develop population indices and track population trends of small game species.  Personnel also represent LDWF on various committees which are involved in monitoring and formulating regional and national programs which may have impacts on small game wildlife.

Resident Small Game Seasons

2019–20  Schedule

Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag Limit

Possession Limit

Quail

Nov. 16 – Feb. 29

10

30

Rabbit

Oct. 5 – Feb. 29

8

24

Squirrel

Oct. 5 – Feb. 29

8

24

May 2 – 24*

3

9

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Consult Wildlife Management Area and Federal Land schedules for specific regulations and dates on those areas.

*Spring squirrel season is CLOSED on the Kisatchie National Forest, national wildlife refuges, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property, and some state wildlife management areas (check WMA season schedules).

Deer Tag Requirements

Prior to hunting deer, all deer hunters, regardless of age or license status, must obtain deer tags and have them in their possession when hunting deer. Immediately upon harvesting a deer, the hunter must tag the deer with the appropriate carcass tag before moving it from the kill site, and the hunter must document the kill on the harvest report card portion of the deer tag license.

The hunter must record the date of kill and the parish of kill on the carcass tag. The tag must remain attached to the deer while kept at camp, or while it is transported to the domicile of the hunter or to a cold storage facility. Hunters who keep the carcass or meat at camp must also comply with the game possession tag regulations. Within 72 hours, the hunter must validate the kill using the toll-free validation phone number 1-844-522-4325 or online.

Hunters harvesting deer on Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) lands should follow the instructions provided to them by LDWF. When deer check stations are in operation, hunters on wildlife management areas (WMAs) can validate deer during mandatory deer checks.

Turkey Restocking Program

Habitat Assessment

Locating suitable release sites for wild turkeys has been key to the success of Louisiana’s turkey restocking program. Over the years, LDWF received many requests from landowners and sportsmen to stock wild turkeys. LDWF continues to get five to ten requests annually. It has been LDWF's policy for many years that restocking requests be evaluated by a regional biologist and/or Turkey Program Leader prior to being approved. Criteria used in the evaluation are the presence or absence of wild turkeys, distance from presently occupied turkey range to request area, amount of suitable habitat at the release site, support by local residents, land use trends, and potential for expansion.

Restocking Summary

LDWF's trapping and relocation efforts have resulted in the capture and release of 3,856 turkeys. Wild turkeys have been released in 45 parishes since 1963. During the mid-1990s, a total of 766 turkeys (480 captured in-state and 286 received from out-of-state) were released at 35 sites in 20 parishes. Most areas in the state capable of supporting viable wild turkey populations have now been restocked.

Management

Turkey habitat management activities include improving turkey habitat on wildlife management areas and the Kisatchie National Forest as well as providing technical assistance to landowners and managers with an interest in improving turkey habitat on their lands. Habitat management techniques frequently used include maintaining openings, planting fall and spring food plots, hardwood composition enhancement, and, in pinelands, prescribed burning.

Wildlife Division personnel provide recommendations to LDWF on hunting seasons and regulations based on the results of the monitoring programs.

Dove Hunting

2019-2020 Season

South Zone

  • Sept. 7-15
  • Oct. 12 - Nov. 17
  • Dec. 19 - Jan. 31

North Zone

  • Sept. 7-29
  • Oct. 12-17
  • Dec. 28 - Jan. 26

Dove hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset EXCEPT for opening day of the first split on WMAs and LDWF leased dove fields where shooting hours will be 12 pm (noon) to sunset, EXCEPT for Elbow Slough WMA, which will be open one-half hour before sunrise to sunset..

Note that on state wildlife management areas and LDWF leased fields, non-toxic shot only is required when hunting doves; no lead shot is allowed.

Dove Hunting Zones

The following boundary divides the state into North and South dove season zones: Beginning at the Texas-Louisiana border on La. Hwy. 12; thence east along La. Hwy. 12 to its intersection with U.S. Hwy. 190; thence east along U.S. Hwy. 190 to its intersection with Interstate 12; thence east along I-12 to its intersection with Interstate 10; then east along I-10 to the Mississippi state line.

Bag and Possession Limits

Mourning and white-winged doves and fully dressed Eurasian collared- and ringed turtle-doves:

  • Daily bag limit: 15 in aggregate
  • Possession limit: 45 in aggregate
  • Note: there is no bag limit on Eurasian collared-doves or ringed turtle-doves provided that a fully feathered wing and head remain attached to the carcass of the bird. Fully dressed Eurasian-collared doves and ringed-turtle doves (those without a fully feathered wing and head naturally attached to the carcass) shall be included in the aggregate bag.

Private Dove Lease Fields

TBA

Public Dove Hunting Opportunities on WMAs

2019 Elbow Slough WMA Dove Lottery Application

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