The last three deer harvests in Louisiana averaged right at 152,000 deer, with the current minimum population estimate of 500,000 deer statewide.
See the forecast for your state’s deer season 2012.
“Over the last five years the [deer population] trend is down, but likely stable now after some landscape-scale habitat changes and environmental variations we’ve been through,” said Scott Durham, Deer Program Manager for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ (LDWF) Wildlife Division.
Those “changes and variations” include less timber being cut down in Louisiana’s commercial forests, resulting in less deer browse and cover. This appears to have led to lower fawn recruitment. Drought this summer and last summer has lowered the quality of available forage. The historic Mississippi River floods of April and May 2011 killed or displaced untold numbers of Louisiana deer. And, wild hogs are an increasing problem.
“Hunter survey data indicated a ten percent increase in the hog harvest last year, to approximately 98,200 hogs, meaning we have more hogs on the landscape,” says Durham. “Recent research shows that deer and hogs do not mix well and that deer can be displaced by hogs, and hog populations are high enough in some areas of the state to affect deer numbers through direct competition for food resources.”
Concerning the drought, Louisiana did have significant rains in the spring, some of them torrential, and deer had plenty of high quality foods to make it through even a dry summer. Over a third of the state was in moderate to severe drought by the middle of August, all of that in northern parts of Louisiana, with the southern half of the state receiving ample rains.
As with most Gulf States, the rut is variable, from the end of August along the coast proper, to early December as you move inland to the northern border.
The Southern Regional Report
It looks like this will be another strong season for southeastern deer hunters, with deer herds in good to very good condition. Deer populations are stable to slightly growing, and all states expected a strong fawn crop this year. The central south (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) saw drought expand over the region as summer went forward. However, this part of the country did receive substantial spring and early-summer rains, which generated a good deal of forage, so deer went into the summer in pretty good condition.
Top Trophy Zones
AR: Arkansas and Chicot counties.
FL: Alachua, Gadsden, and Jefferson counties.
LA: Avoyelles, Concordia, and East Feliciana parishes.
MS: Delta counties like Bolivar, Tallahatchie, and Yazoo are well represented in the record books. Outside of the Delta, Adams County has produced trophy bucks for the past 50 years, including the current state typical record, a 10-pointer killed in 2010 that netted an amazing 184 6⁄8.
OK: Osage and Coal counties. The latter is developing a reputation as a big-buck county, and that was only enhanced last year when 13-year-old Kelsey McKay shot a 200 7⁄8-inch monster non-typical. It is the largest buck ever taken in Coal, a county well represented in the state record books for both typical and non-typical whitetails.
SC: Orangeburg, Aiken, Fairfield, and Colleton counties.
TN: Cumberland and Van Buren counties, and the Tennessee sections of the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell Military Installation.
TX: Irion, Kennedy, Maverick, Tom Green, and Webb counties.