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Texas turkey trip pays off big

Screen Shot 2021-04-10 at 2.34.19 PMWe had a good week in Texas turkey hunting. The weather started out kind of bad at first. It is unusual to go turkey hunting in Texas when it’s cold and the wind blowing 25 miles an hour, but things settled down for us. By the time we left, it was 80 degrees.

But we still racked up on the turkeys. Four of the five of us got a limit (4 per hunter in Texas) and we had some really good ones. There were a lot of mature turkeys.

Screen Shot 2021-04-10 at 2.33.52 PMIt was tough in the mornings because the gobblers are still with the hens and it was hard to get them away. But in the afternoons they had separated a little more and it worked out better. Later in the season the hens are on the nest and that isn’t as much of a problem.

As I said, we killed some good birds. Most of them were 3-4 year old birds. I had one that was 23 1/2 pounds which is pretty big for a Texas turkey.

We are planning a New Mexico hunt and will work in a few closer to home as well. We will keep you up with what’s going on, including some reports from around our area.

As always, be safe out there. Never take any chances and ALWAYS know what you are about to shoot at before you even think about pulling the trigger.

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Talking turkey with the LDWF

Thanks to Cody Cedotal, Resident Small Game/Wild Turkey Program Manager with LDWF for the following information for our turkey hunters. Louisiana’s turkey season is just around the corner. Get your gear ready.

What is the upcoming 2021 turkey season looking like statewide? Do some areas look better than others?

“I am hopeful that 2021 will bring us  a good season overall.  We have been conducting some research in western LA and southeast were we have seen good numbers of birds including both jakes and mature gobblers.   Our Wild Turkey Poult Production Survey indicated an improved hatch in the Southeast and Northwest  Management regions over last year’s survey.”

Is flooding a major concern? It doesn’t seem to be as bad as last year, but what do you think?

“Flooding decreases habitat availability for birds and access for hunters on both private and public lands. It also has negative impacts on reproduction.   High water during Spring and early Summer is always concerning.  This is a critical time as hens are nesting and raising broods.  Depending on timing and duration, this could be detrimental to wild turkey reproduction in some of our bottomland areas.  Though this year’s flooding forecasts are not as extreme as years past, turkeys and other wildlife have not yet recovered from the impacts of past floods.

On another note, we are also monitoring turkey populations closely in southwest LA after two major hurricanes impacted these areas this summer.  The damaged caused by these storms will certainly impact hunter access and turkey movement of the next several years.”

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Turkey harvests by year in Louisiana based on estimates and hunter validated turkey kills:

Screen Shot 2021-03-22 at 9.53.28 PM*** Statewide turkey season delayed by 2 wks. 

Bussey bass keep getting bigger

IMG_5737This is right down the road from Simmons’ Sporting Goods!

Touring bass pro Tyler Stewart of West Monroe has had a lot of bass fishing highlights in his young career. Another one came Sunday, March 16, when Tyler landed his personal best largemouth bass — a 12.74 pounder. And it came from Bussey Brake Reservoir, just north of Bastrop. Stewart was fishing the shallows looking for spawning bass when he felt a mushy feeling on his black and blue colored Googan Bandito Bug, so he did what all experienced bass anglers do. He set the hook. Nothing happened. Nothing moved. Then, a tug. Stewart had hooked into a 12.74 pound largemouth that is the biggest ever officially weighed and reported on the 2,200 acre lake north of Bastrop. It was also Stewart’s “PB” as they call it — his personal best biggest bass.

“I flipped the Bandito Bug up in a bush and when I picked it up, it was just kind of spongy…mushy,” he says. “When I set the hook, I didn’t even turn her. Then, there was a slight tug. Then a real pull. I knew it was a good one. I had to pull it up over another bush and when it rolled, my fishing partner Matthew Colvin saw it. I reeled a couple of times and told him to get the net. I didn’t have to. He was already standing there with it in his hand because he saw the fish swirl and knew it was a giant right after I hooked it. It was pretty exciting.”

Stewart was fishing in only about two or three feet of water and there wasn’t anything special about the bush he cast into. He said he was just flipping the bushes and dropped it in the right spot. Stewart had the fish weighed on certified scales and returned it to the lake to hopefully use the fish’s genetics to create even more big bass.

Stewart encourages all anglers to practice catch and release with the big bass at Bussey where it can become a top bass fishing lake for years to come.

Tag: You’re it

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.49.31 PMPrior to hunting turkey, all turkey hunters, regardless of age or license status, must obtain turkey tags. They must also have the tags in their possession while hunting turkey.  Immediately after harvesting a turkey, the hunter must tag the turkey with the appropriate carcass tag before moving it from where it was killed. The hunter must record the date and parish of kill on the carcass tag and record the date of kill on the corresponding tag number on the harvest report card portion of the turkey tag license.

The hunter must keep the tag attached to the turkey while keeping the turkey at camp and while transporting it to the hunter’s home or a cold storage facility. Hunters who keep the carcass or meat at camp must also comply with resident game possession tag regulations (see below).

Within 72 hours of harvesting the turkey, the hunter must validate the harvest either by phone (844.LACHECK or 844.522.4325) or online.

Harvest information collected through tagging and validation provides an additional index for turkey population levels; we use this information when considering changes to seasons and bag limits.

Replacing Lost Tags

Hunters can obtain duplicate tags to replace lost tags for a fee from any license vendor. Hunters who have harvested turkeys prior to losing their remaining tags must remove and discard the duplicate tags to account for the original tags that have been used and validated. Hunters must record these validated turkeys on the duplicate turkey tag license.

Possession Tags

You must tag any part(s) of a turkey that has been divided with the name, date, address, and LDWF license number of the person who harvested the turkey. You must write this information legibly in pen or pencil on any piece of paper, cardboard, or material which is attached to, secured to, or enclosing the part or parts. You may use the Resident Game Possession Tags provided in the most recent regulations booklet for this purpose.

Bussey Chunk !

While some of us are  gearing up for turkey hunting, some folks are gearing up for the spring fish spawn. And it looks like it is here. What a catch at Bussey Brake today. This  9.75 pounder was caught by Timothy Powell fishing with Jeff Pearson and shared on Facebook.

Remember to stop by Simmons’ and check out our fishing department. We’re right on the road to Bussey Brake!

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Boating fatalities on the rise

Screen Shot 2021-03-10 at 12.59.58 PMPlease be safe when you are on the water for any reason.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division is once again reminding all boaters to practice safe boating as we approach the spring and summer boating season.

The reminder comes after two more boating fatalities within the past week, bringing the number of Louisiana boating fatalities in 2021 to seven.  At this time in 2020, there were only two recreational boating fatalities.

“We haven’t even gotten into the prime boating season in Louisiana yet and we are seeing fatalities climb at an alarming pace,” said Col. Chad Hebert, the head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.  “We are urging boaters to please adhere to all safe boating laws and practices.”

On Feb. 28 a person fell off of a personal watercraft without wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and drowned in Vermilion Parish.  Then on March 6, a boat with five people on board struck a railroad bridge in Lake Pontchartrain, near New Orleans, that resulted in one fatality and four people being treated for serious injuries at an area hospital.

“A life jacket is the life- saving equipment on a boat. Please, please use it,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “We want more people enjoying the water, but there are safety rules that are important to follow.”

The LDWF Enforcement Division encourages everyone to wear PFDs (commonly called life jackets) and have a sober operator while on the water.  They also recommend that all boaters take LDWF’s boating education course.  It is required for anyone 16 years old and younger to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved and properly fitting PFD while underway on a vessel under 26 feet in length.  Also, everyone on a vessel less than 16 feet in length, propelled by a hand tiller motor, must wear a PFD while underway.  There must also be a PFD for each person on board a vessel and anyone riding on a personal watercraft must wear a PFD.

Operating or driving a vessel in Louisiana while intoxicated has the same penalties as operating a vehicle.  A DWI on the water can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel while impaired.  Boaters are encouraged to take the LDWF-approved safe boating course. It is mandatory for anyone born after Jan.1, 1984, to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF certified over 9,610 boaters in 2020.

To register for the course, visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education.

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Time to get that turkey twitch

Are you starting to feel the urge to break out in a little “cluck” and “gobble” every once in a while? Do you find yourself walking around and suddenly holding your shoulders back, holding your chin up and poking your face forward and doing a little strut?  That’s normal if you are a turkey hunter. It’s time for turkey hunters to start getting that little turkey twitch. It isn’t that long until the season is here for and that’s about the only cure for this strange behavior.

It’s high time to get your gear into shape and fill in your missing equipment. If there is anything you need, don’t hesitate to come by and check out our turkey hunting supplies at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop. In Louisiana, here are 2021 season dates and zones. Plan and prepare now and enjoy it more later!

2021 Turkey Area Schedules

Area A:   April 2 – May 2*

Area B:   April 2-25*

Area C:   April 2-18*

Youth & Physically Challenged Hunt (restricted to youth and wheelchair confined physically challenged hunters – Areas A, B and C on private land only): March 27-28

*Seasons Open in Areas A, B and C, on private lands only. See separate WMA Schedules, National Wildlife Refuge Schedules, and Federal Lands Schedules for season dates on those areas.

2021 National Wildlife Refuge Schedules

Contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for information regarding NWR hunts:

Bayou Cocodrie NWR: March 27-28 (Youth Lottery Only)
Bogue Chitto NWR: March 27-28 (Youth & Physically Challenged Only) and April 2-25
Lake Ophelia NWR: March 27 (Youth Lottery Only) and April 3-18
Tensas NWR: March 27-28 (Youth Only) and April 2-11
Upper Ouachita NWR: March 27 (Youth Lottery Only)

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