Hunting

J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA

Acreage

7,524

Contact

mmcgee@wlf.la.gov; 318-343-4044; 368 CenturyLink Dr, Monroe, LA 71203

Parish

Catahoula

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

The unique habitat on J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA supports a diversity of plants and animals, including rare and endangered species. The WMA’s terrain is extremely rugged with high ridges dropping sharply into creek bottoms and elevations ranging from 35 to 245 feet above sea level. Four small streams, totaling approximately 10 miles in length, meander through the WMA. Big Creek, the longest of these streams, is a rapidly flowing stream with a sand, gravel, and sandstone ledge bottom.

The forest overstory is a mixture of loblolly-shortleaf pine and upland hardwoods. The main tree species are magnolia; sweetgum; blackgum; loblolly and shortleaf pine; hickory; elm; ash; white, southern red, cherrybark, water, and post oak; beech; red maple; and hophornbeam. The understory species include Vitis sp., deciduous holly, Smilax sp., baccharis, flowering dogwood, rattan, huckleberry, oak leaf hydrangea, buckeye, blackberry, silky camellia, sourwood, downy serviceberry, Crataegus sp., and many other grasses and herbaceous plants.

The majority of the WMA (approximately 6,180 acres) was established in 1980; LDWF purchased 2,021 acres of the property and 4,159 acres were donated. Between 1984 and 2002, LDWF purchased approximately 1,345 additional acres in various tracts.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Popular game species on J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA include white-tailed deer, squirrel, and turkey. The turkey population is healthy—LDWF holds an annual public lottery hunt for turkey on this WMA as well as an annual youth lottery turkey hunt on the weekend prior to the regular turkey season. There is also a youth deer season. Woodcock, rabbit, and raccoon are also available. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: The Boeuf and Ouachita Rivers provide boating access to the western portion of the WMA. There is an impounded 5-acre gravel pit which offers some fishing opportunities. A boat launch is available at the impoundment. Freshwater species including bass, sunfish, and catfish are popular with area users, but fishing is limited by lack of available aquatic habitat. See regulations for details.

Camping: There are two primitive camping areas on J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA.

Birding and wildlife viewing: Louisiana black bear frequent J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA; reported sightings have been increasing. Black bear research is ongoing on this WMA.

Birders often observe bald eagles and their nests in the area. Many neotropical birds visit the WMA every year, and the area is home to large numbers of passerine birds.

Hiking: There are three nature trails on J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA. The Big Creek Hiking Trail, located on the north end of the WMA, winds through 7 miles of stands of mature mixed pine hardwoods and passes many scenic points of interest including several waterfalls. Hikers should be aware this trail is rugged and best suited for the physically fit. St. Mary`s Falls Trail is also located on the north end of the WMA; it is a 1-3/4-mile trail through upland mixed pine hardwoods and passes several smaller waterfalls and scenic views. The Rock Falls Trail is located on the south end of the WMA; it is a 1-1/2 mile trail though through mature stands of mixed pine hardwoods. The waterfall along this trail measures near 17 feet and is reported to be one of the tallest in the state. These three trails offer some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities and natural beauty in the state.

Other: horseback riding, berry picking

Directions

J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA is located 6 miles west of Sicily Island. Major access routes to the WMA include LA Hwy 8 and 915. LDWF maintains a system of all-weather gravel roads and several ATV trails that provide access to area users. There are three self-clearing permit stations located at the WMA’s main entrances.

Floy Ward McElroy WMA

Acreage

681

Contact

mmcgee@wlf.la.gov; 318-343-4044; 368 CenturyLink Dr, Monroe, LA 71203

Parish

Richland

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Floy Ward McElroy donated this property to LDWF in 1990 to establish a wildlife refuge and management area. Mrs. McElroy retained use of the property, primarily for cattle production, until her death in November 2000. Mrs. McElroy mandated that LDWF use this WMA for outdoor education and youth hunting activities.

The property consists of pastures with scattered hardwood timber, a band of hardwoods along the Boeuf River, which borders the WMA for 4 miles, and one stand of approximately 20 acres of bottomland hardwoods. The upland hardwood habitat on Floy Ward McElroy WMA is unique in this part of the state. Sloughs and backwater areas are found along the Boeuf River. LDWF has planted 240 acres of the pastures with hardwood seedlings. Tree species on the WMA include water, willow, cherrybark, cow, Shumard, overcup, nuttall, white, and post oak; hickory; sweet and bitter pecan (water hickory); sweetgum; sycamore, basswood; elm; cypress; swamp cottonwood; persimmon; and honey locust. The forest is very fragmented; many trees are found along old fencerows and river scars.

The majority of the WMA’s terrain is flat, varying only 10 feet in elevation, from 75 to 85 feet below sea level. Elevation dips to 65 feet near creek bottoms and the Boeuf River. Other than backwater flooding of the drains stemming from the Boeuf River, the property does not flood.

In the early 1980s, beavers impounded a scar of the Boeuf River, creating a swamp-like 32-acre lake. Permanent water has killed most of the timber in this area, except cypress, black willow, water elm, and buttonbush.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting: LDWF holds annual youth lottery hunts for white-tailed deer and squirrel on Floy Ward McElroy WMA. There is also an open youth dove hunt the second weekend of the dove season each year. See regulations for details.

In addition, LDWF holds a physically challenged wheelchair-confined lottery hunt for deer. Click here for a physically challenged hunter permit application and additional information.

Birding and wildlife viewing: The wetland area of this WMA provides habitat for wood ducks, wintering waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, alligators, and wetland mammals. LDWF has constructed an observation platform overlooking the lake.

Directions

Floy Ward McElroy WMA is located 2 miles north of Rayville. This WMA is only open to vehicular traffic on specified days.

Soda Lake WMA

Map: 

Acreage

2,500

Contact

jjohnson@wlf.la.gov; 318-371-3050; 9961 Hwy 80, Minden, LA 71055

Parish

Caddo

Owner/manager

Caddo Levee District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Description

Soda Lake WMA was historically a seasonal lake that flooded during late winter and spring. A similar water regime continues today, but only the bluffs located on the western edge of the WMA remain above flood level. The lower elevation habitat is a broken woodland consisting of willow, cottonwood, ash, hackberry, and overcup oak. Due to annual flooding, the understory is very sparse and contains rattan, peppervine, dewberry, and sawbriars. Open areas support wild millet, smartweed, and several species of grasses.

The rugged escarpment of Twelve Mile Bayou on the western edge of the area supports a diverse, old growth forest. Approximately 35 acres in size, this forest is a unique natural upland plant community of shortleaf pine, sweetgum, and white, post, cherrybark, shumard, and cow oak. The dominant trees are estimated to be 100 to 130 years old. Two rare plants, American alumroot (Heuchra americana L.) and lowland brittle fern (Cystopteris protrusa Bernh.) have been found growing on the north and east-facing bluffs.

LDWF manages Soda Lake WMA primarily as a refuge for migrant waterfowl and songbirds. The WMA also provides year-round habitat for a diverse population of resident songbirds, mammals, and insects. Together, LDWF, Ducks Unlimited, and the Caddo Levee District maintain a series of moist soil impoundments that provide excellent waterfowl and bird watching opportunities.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: There is an archery-only season for white-tailed deer. Small game and waterfowl hunting are available under special conditions. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: There is a public boat launch which can be accessed through the WMA parking area on the south side of LA Hwy 169. The launch allows convenient access for boating and fishing on the upper end of Twelve Mile Bayou. See regulations for details.

Other: birding, wildlife viewing

Directions

Soda Lake WMA is located about 15 miles north of Shreveport, approximately 1 mile east of LA Hwy 1. You can access the southern end of the area from LA Hwy 173 west of Twelve Mile Bayou and the northern end from LA Hwy 169 east of Twelve Mile Bayou. Interior access is limited to walk-in and bicycles only.

Elm Hall

Map: 

Acreage

2,839

Contact

Tony Vidrine 

(337)948-0255

5652 Hwy 182, Opelousas, LA 70570

Parish

Assumption

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Acquired by LDWF in 1998, Elm Hall WMA is located on the northeast corner of Lake Verret; the western boundary of the WMA fronts the lake. There is an aesthetically rich, naturally flooded cypress-tupelo swamp adjacent to Lake Verret. Moving east, elevation rises slightly toward a more bottomland hardwood area. Bayous and oilfield canals provide access and diversity to the WMA. Most of the swamp stays flooded year-round; the bottomland areas periodically flood.

Common swamp plant species include cypress, tupelo, buttonbush, alligator weed, smartweed, elephant ear, and duckweed. The main species in the bottomland areas are red maple, black willow, swamp privet, and hackberry. Cottonwood, sycamore and oaks are found on the slightly higher areas, especially on the banks of oilfield canals.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Common game species are white-tailed deer, rabbit, and squirrel. Waterfowl species are present during winter migration, and wood ducks are found on the area year-round. Hunters must have a self-clearing permit. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: Fishing for bream, white crappie, and bass is excellent in the oilfield canals and on the edge of the WMA in the northeast corner of Lake Verret. Other common fish include catfish, mullet, and freshwater drum. See regulations for details.

Camping: Camping is allowed in the designated camping area.

Birding: Bald eagles frequent Elm Hall WMA and nest in the tall cypress trees surrounding Lake Verret. Ospreys, hawks, owls, and neotropical migrant birds are also found on the WMA.

Directions

Elm Hall WMA is located 5 miles west of Napoleonville. You can only access this WMA by boat; major public launches nearby include: Attakapas Landing at the end of Hwy 401, Pierre Part on Hwy 70, and the end of Hwy 402.

Spring Bayou WMA

Acreage

12,506

Contact

Tony Vidrine 

(337)948-0255

5652 Hwy 182, Opelousas, LA 70570

Parish

Avoyelles

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Spring Bayou WMA is in the low-lying Red River backwater system. In general, the terrain is low, poorly drained land, with numerous lakes and narrow ridges. About 40 percent of the WMA is covered by water, with various open lakes, bayous, bays, and sloughs. The area is drained by Little River.

The forest cover consists of nuttall and overcup oak with bitter pecan on the higher elevations. The lower elevations contain overcup oak, bitter pecan, swamp privet, and buttonbush. Lake edges are fringed with cypress, willow, and buttonbush. The understory consists of deciduous holly, hawthorn, dogwood, and seedlings of the overstory. Other plants include rattan, greenbrier, peppervine, trumpet creeper, dewberry, smartweed, verbena, wild lettuce, vetch, sedges, and grasses. Aquatic species include water hyacinth, alligator weed, delta duck potato, water primrose, lotus, and duckweed.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Available game species include deer, squirrel, rabbit, waterfowl, and woodcock. There are youth deer and squirrel seasons and a youth turkey lottery hunt. Trapping for furbearers is allowed; available species are raccoon, mink, bobcat, and nutria. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: Fishing is excellent and very popular during the spring and summer. LDWF has released triploid carp throughout the area to combat encroachment of aquatic vegetation and improve the health of the fishery. Common species are largemouth bass, various panfish, and catfish. Commercial fishing is allowed by permit. Boating and waterskiing are popular in open water portions of the WMA. See regulations for details.

Camping: There are campgrounds with electricity accessible via Spring Bayou Road.

Other: hiking, photography, birding

Directions

Spring Bayou WMA is located 2 miles east of Marksville, off LA Hwy 115 and 452. These highways connect to LA Hwy 1 and 107 in the immediate vicinity of Marksville. Vehicle access to the east side is via an improved shell road off the Bordelonville levee. You can mainly access the interior by boat. There are three concrete boat ramps on the WMA. You can access the Boggy Bayou boat launch and campgrounds via Spring Bayou Road.

Elbow Slough WMA

Acreage

160

Contact

adailey@wlf.la.gov; 318-487-5885; 1995 Shreveport Hwy, Pineville, LA 71360

Parish

Rapides

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Elbow Slough WMA is a small tract within the Red River floodplain. Formerly agricultural cropland, the WMA’s terrain is flat with heavy clay soils that are poorly drained. LDWF planted approximately 100 acres of native hardwood species on this WMA in the early 1990s. LDWF also constructed a 40-acre impoundment and manages it to provide seasonal shallow water habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. The remaining acreage is natural water and planted fields.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting: Hunting opportunities are limited due to the size of the tract. However, dove and rabbit hunting are usually good. Hunters must use nontoxic shot. See regulations for details.

Birding and wildlife viewing: Although small in size, Elbow Slough WMA provides quality habitat for numerous wildlife species. A wide variety of resident and migratory songbirds and many species of wading birds use the area. Mammals ranging from shrews to white-tailed deer make this area their home.

Other: hiking, photography

Directions

Elbow Slough WMA is located near the intersection of U.S. Hwy 1 and LA Hwy 3170.

Tangipahoa Parish School Board WMA

Acreage

1,643

Contact

fburks@wlf.la.gov; 985-543-4781; 42371 Phyllis Ann Dr, Hammond, LA 70403

Parish

Tangipahoa

Owner/manager

LDWF leases the property from Tangipahoa Parish School Board

Description

LDWF has leased small, scattered tracts of land that make up this WMA from the Tangipahoa Parish School Board since April 2003. The intent of both parties is to better manage wildlife and ensure continued public access to this land.

The first tract is located in the center of Tangipahoa Parish, south of LA Hwy 16; it contains 347 acres of upland pine habitat actively managed for loblolly pine timber production. There are timber stands of various ages with scattered hardwoods. The second tract is also found south of LA Hwy 16. This 649-acre tract is bordered on the east by Hillcrest School Road. Habitats include longleaf and loblolly pine and mixed pine/hardwoods. The third tract is located north of LA Hwy 38, near Lewiston. It contains 647 acres of longleaf and loblolly pine and mixed pine/hardwoods.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Available game species include white-tailed deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, mourning dove, bobwhite quail, and woodcock. See regulations for details.

Other: hiking, photography, birding

Directions

Access the first tract via Neal Road west of Briar Patch Road and LA Hwy 445. Head south on Dummyline Road at Sharon M.B. Church to access the second tract. Access the third tract via Brumfield Lane. You must have a self-clearing permit to access any of these tracts.

Thistlethwaite WMA

Acreage

11,100

Contact

Tony Vidrine 

(337)948-0255

5652 Hwy 182, Opelousas, LA 70570

Parish

St. Landry

Owner/manager

Thistlethwaite Heirs

Description

The terrain on Thistlethwaite WMA is generally flat bottomland, with a gentle north-south slope. Drainage is slow, with standing water after heavy rains. Forest cover is predominantly water, willow, overcup, white, cherrybark, nuttall, cow, and post oak. Other species are bitter and sweet pecan, hickory, hackberry, sweetgum, ash, elm, and maple. The lower areas contain cypress and tupelo gum. There is a dense understory of palmetto in many areas of the WMA. Selective timber harvesting has enhanced browse species such as dogwood, redbud, elderberry, French mulberry, greenbrier, rattan, and blackberry.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Available game species include deer, squirrel, rabbit, wood duck, and woodcock. The deer herd is high-quality—hunters take many trophy bucks on this WMA. There is a youth deer season. Trapping for furbearers is permitted; species include beaver, raccoon, mink, bobcat, otter, and opossum. See regulations for details.

Birding: Hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and neotropical migrant songbirds are common on Thistlethwaite WMA.

Hiking: LDWF maintains approximately 1 mile of wooded trails on the WMA.

Directions

Thistlethwaite WMA is located immediately northeast of Washington off LA Hwy 10. You can also access the WMA via I-49 at the Lebeau exit. LDWF maintains 17 miles of improved roads on the WMA. You must have a self-clearing permit for any activity on the WMA.

Dewey W. Wills

Acreage

63,984

Contact

adailey@wlf.la.gov; 318-487-5885; 1995 Shreveport Hwy, Pineville, LA 71360

Parish

LaSalle, Catahoula, Rapides

Owner/manager

LDWF, LaSalle Parish School Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Description

Dewey W. Wills WMA is managed to provide wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. The area is flat, poorly drained land that is subject to annual overflow and is interlaced with a number of bayous and lakes. The forest cover is a mixture of bottomland hardwoods. The major overstory species are overcup, nuttall, and willow oak; bitter pecan; ash; and elm. The understory of the lower elevations is composed mainly of swamp privet, native grasses and forbs, and seedlings of the overstory. On the higher elevations, the understory is composed of deciduous holly, hawthorn, smilax, swamp dogwood, peppervine, rattan vine, dewberry, blackberry, palmetto, and seedlings of the overstory.

Prior to establishing Dewey W. Wills as a WMA, the timber in this area was harvested, creating an open canopy. Through LDWF’s forest management program, livestock was removed from the area, stimulating understory production. The forest canopy has now closed, and browse plants have been reduced. In recent years, a combination of conditions known as oak decline has developed on the area, killing a significant portion of overstory trees. LDWF has modified its forest management program to fight oak decline.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Game species available on Dewey W. Wills WMA include deer, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, turkey, waterfowl, and woodcock. There is a general turkey lottery hunt as well as a youth deer season and lottery hunt. There is also a small game emphasis area. Trapping is permitted for the following furbearers: raccoon, nutria, beaver, mink, bobcat, fox, and coyote. See regulations for details.

There is also a physically challenged deer season. Click here for a physically challenged hunter permit application and additional information.

Fishing and boating: LDWF maintains five concrete boat ramps on Dewey W. Wills WMA. There is excellent recreational and commercial fishing in this area. Common recreational species include largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and other species of sunfish. Common commercial species include buffalo, carp, drum, gar, and catfish. See regulations for details.

Camping: LDWF maintains four primitive camping areas on Dewey W. Wills WMA.

Birding: A variety of neotropical songbirds, shorebirds, wading birds, and various raptors are found on Dewey W. Wills WMA.

Directions

Dewey W. Wills WMA is located approximately 20 miles northeast of Alexandria. The area is easily accessible via LA Hwy 28 East. The interior of the WMA has a network of all-weather roads that provide vehicular access.

Tunica Hills WMA

Acreage

6,503

Contact

fburks@wlf.la.gov; 985-543-4781; 42371 Phyllis Ann Dr, Hammond, LA 70403

Parish

West Feliciana

Owner/manager

LDWF, Louisiana Office of State Parks

Description

Tunica Hills WMA is composed of two separate tracts. The North Tract (2,346 acres) is immediately adjacent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The South Tract (4,156 acres) is off Old Tunica Road, which is part of the scenic Natchez Trace System and has been used for travel since colonial times.

The WMA’s terrain is characterized by rugged hills, bluffs, and ravines. The area lies at the southern end of the “loess blufflands” escarpment that follows the east bank of the Mississippi River south from its confluence with the Ohio River. These blufflands offer a diverse and unique habitat that supports some species of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Louisiana.

The forest on the area is classified as upland hardwood, with some loblolly pine and eastern red cedar mixed in on the ridge tops and creek terraces. Hardwoods include American beech; American holly; flowering magnolia; cherrybark, water, and cow oak; hickory; sweetgum; Osage orange; hackberry; eastern hophornbeam; ironwood; yellow poplar; elm; and maple. The understory varies from dense in younger areas of timber to fairly open in older areas. Common understory species are oak leaf hydrangea, two-winged silverbell, trifoliate orange, pawpaw, flowering dogwood, sweetleaf, spicebush, blackberry, and switchcane. At least 20 species of plants classified as rare in Louisiana are found on this area; two of these species have not been found anywhere else in the state.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Hunting is allowed at specified times for deer, turkey, and small game. There are youth and general turkey lottery hunts and a youth deer season. Trapping is allowed for coyote, fox, bobcat, raccoon, and opossum. See regulations for details.

Birding and wildlife viewing: Tunica Hills WMA is home to several resident and migratory bird species including some that are rare elsewhere in the state, such as the worm-eating warbler and the Coopers hawk. There are eastern chipmunks and numerous snake species, including canebrake rattlesnakes and copperheads. Black bear tracks are observed occasionally.

Camping: There is a tent-only, primitive camping area off of Parker Road on the South Tract.

Hiking: There is a nature trail and three hiking trails on Tunica Hills WMA.

Other: horseback riding, biking, photography

Directions

Tunica Hills WMA is northwest of St. Francisville. Access the North Tract from Farrah Davis Road off LA Hwy 66, approximately 14.3 miles west of U.S. Hwy 61. While you can access the South Tract from a few different points, the best way to go is by driving 17.3 miles west on LA Hwy 66 from U.S. Hwy 61 to Old Tunica Road. Continue on Old Tunica Road for about 1 mile to enter the WMA. A series of trails provide interior access to both tracts.

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