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Hunting, Research, and Management

Muscles tensed, heart pounding, head down, eyes fixed on a thicket of greenbrier and dewberry, and nose filled with the aroma of a woodcock, your bird dog is just waiting for the flushing of the bird and the crack of your shotgun. It’s mid-December and the woodcock have returned to Louisiana!

Louisiana has important wintering grounds for woodcock with some of the highest numbers of wintering woodcock in the United States. Several WMAs, national forests and wildlife refuges, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' lands, as well as private lands, are managed to enhance woodcock habitat and hunting opportunities—this means more birds and great places to hunt them. As a result, Louisiana consistently has more hunters who spend more days afield hunting woodcock than any other southern state. Based on annual LDWF hunter surveys, an average of about 5,000 hunters harvest more than 22,400 woodcock each season.

Mandatory Harvest Information Program

If you are required to be licensed to hunt migratory birds (ducks, coots, geese, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, or gallinules), you must get a Harvest Information Program certification and carry proof of your HIP certification with you whenever you’re hunting migratory birds.  If you are 17 and under you do not need a HIP certification unless you are participating in a WMA youth waterfowl lottery.

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Woodcock Hunting on Public Lands

Interested in hunting woodcock in Louisiana? Public lands in Louisiana, including WMAs, national forests and wildlife refuges, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' lands, offer ample woodcock hunting opportunities. Woodcock distribution varies from year to year depending on soil moisture and temperature. In most years, areas in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River floodplains, such as Sherburne WMA, Indian Bayou Area, and Dewey Wills WMA, offer the best woodcock hunting. However, hunters should not overlook upland areas, such as Kisatchie National Forest and Clear Creek, Bodcau, and Sandy Hollow WMAs, which can also offer very good hunting.

Research and Management

The American woodcock (Scolopax minor) is a migratory bird that lives in the northern United States and southern Canada during the spring and summer. The primary breeding range for woodcock is southern Canada, Maine, and westward to the Great Lakes region and as far south as central West Virginia. Woodcock begin their fall migration in September and spend the winter anywhere from the central to the southern United States, with Louisiana wintering more woodcock than any other southern state. Since Louisiana represents an important wintering area for woodcock, LDWF conducts a lot of research about the species, including a banding project and habitat studies, and manages habitat to attract woodcock.

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— Did You Know? —

American woodcock have many local names, including bogsucker, Labrador twister, timber-doodle (probably the most well-known), big-eyes, blind snipe, brush snipe, swamp bat, mud bat, and so on. In Louisiana, the woodcock is known as bécasse (bay-Cass), from the French bécassine meaning snipe.

Migratory Bird Preservation Facilities

A Migratory Bird Preservation Facility is any person, taxidermist, cold storage facility, locker plant, or hunting club which receives, possesses, or is in custody of any migratory game birds belonging to another person for purposes of picking, cleaning, freezing, processing, storage, or shipment. To operate as a Migratory Bird Preservation Facility, the facility must:

  1. Ensure incoming birds are properly tagged
  2. Keep an accurate record of both incoming and outgoing transactions
  3. Allow the premises to be inspected.

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