When Ryan Wooten got the chance to get away from his office a few minutes, he knew where he was going.
It was the last Monday of the spring turkey season and he knew a spot north of Baton Rouge held a prize: A trophy gobbler stealthy enough to elude all hunting during the season’s first three weeks.
That’s why Wooten was so surprised. “When I made the corner (on the gravel road), I saw this turkey with a hen and a another gobbler, I thought to myself this may be a busted hunt because they saw my truck,” Wooten said.
That’s when he made a fateful decision: When the turkeys disappeared into the woods, he drove past them, then parked a distance ahead of that crossing spot. He set up a decoy in an opening, then disappeared into the woods.
“I figured they would have been long gone. As luck would have it, a hen showed up as soon as I sat down. She eased off in the woods, and I waited about 10 minutes, I yelped one time and got cut off by the gobbler. Within five minutes he showed up coming right to the decoy. ... This must be my lucky day,” he said.
It was. The gobbler turned out to be one of this year’s trophies: 23 pounds, spurs measuring 1 1/2 inches and an 11 1/2-inch beard.
The next seasons
Retired state wildlife biologist David Moreland said his season in East Feliciana Parish was successful, too, but added that next year’s season — and beyond — begins today.
Moreland said while its time for Louisiana hunters to leave the woods and start fishing, it’s also time to get the fields ready for the young poults, turkeys hatching in the next weeks. They will provide future successful turkey hunts.
“If the fields are too thick with grass, the poults cannot feed. If they do not feed, they do not survive,” Moreland said, before turning to advice offered by Department of Wildlife and Fisheries turkey biologist Jimmy Stafford.
Moreland said Stafford told him that hunters and landowners “need to create some areas where poults can feed and catch insects, short grassy areas with dirt so they can walk around and field.”
Stafford’s advice to Moreland keyed on habitat management, part of which was to check out their open, grassy areas and “throw a softball in the patch. If you cannot see it, the patch is too thick for poults to feed in.
“Look for (turkey) nests before cutting grass or discing.”
Moreland turned to what he knows best: whitetail deer.
“Deer are feeding heavy in my arrowleaf clover and on the native forage that came out early, so get the summer (food) patches in early before the rains go away,” Moreland said. “Once this work is done then (it’s) time to do some fishing.”
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is making a one-day statewide push to help boaters born on or after Jan. 1, 1984, to “get legal.” It will hold its second annual Boating Education Lagniappe Day from 9 a.m.-5 p.m Saturday, May 12, at eight locations.
State law requires anyone born on or after the 1984date to successfully complete a nationally approved boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.
LDWF instructors will teach about choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements, equipment requirements, navigation rules and charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft and more.
LDWF Enforcement Division’s Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne said the day’s fee-free course will offer food and drinks, giveaways and door prizes.
Mayne said space is limited and recommends prospective students register at the LDWF’s website: http://www.wlf.
louisiana.gov/lagniappeday or by calling the number listed for the preferred site.
Course locations include:
GONZALES: Cabela’s, 2200 W. Cabela’s Parkway. Call (225) 765-2999.
KENNER: Academy Sports & Outdoors, 1000 West Esplanade Blvd. Call (504) 284-2023.
OPELOUSAS: St. Landry Lumber Co., 207 North Railroad Ave. Call (337) 948-0257.
LAROSE: Larose Civic Center, 307 East 5th St. Call (985) 447-0821.
ALEXANDRIA: Academy Sports & Outdoors, 3205 S. MacArthur Dr. Call (318) 487-5634.
LAKE CHARLES: Lake Charles Civic Center, 3rd Floor, 900 Lakeshore Dr. Call (337) 491-2580/(337) 491-2588.
WEST MONROE: Academy Sports & Outdoors, 111 Constitution Dr. Call (318) 362-3102.
MIDEN: LDWF Region 1 Minden Office, 9961 Hwy. 80. Call (318) 371-3049.