One of the biggest problems that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) experiences is people finding a deer fawn that's seemingly been abandoned by it's parents.

After a really wet, long winter, things have really turned around. We've had some beautiful weather allowing things to dry out. Everything is greening up, and pollen is everywhere. The birds and animals are preparing for new families. Spring is here, and that means babies are everywhere. Nothing is more precious and cuter than babies, whether they are human or animal.

The sounds of birds chirping as they collect food for their broods are everywhere. Their young are learning to fly and fend for themselves. The mallards that have made their home here are sitting on their eggs. Heck, I even put a wood duck nest box in my yard, near the water.

Those animals and birds are so cute that it's very tempting to try and help out nature when we might find them in what appears to be distress. Young birds learning to fly might end up on the ground and seem to be defenseless. Trying to put them back in their nest seems to be the noble thing to do, but nearly 100 percent of the time that's exactly the wrong thing to do.

Young birds need to exercise their muscles to be physically able to fly, and their parents can get them back in the nest if it's needed. Sometimes the birds are just not healthy and become food for others in the food chain. That appears to be sort of cruel to us humans, but that's part of the survival process that keeps things going in nature.

One of the biggest problems that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) experiences is people finding a deer fawn that's seemingly been abandoned by it's parents. Their intentions are usually good but misplaced.

When a fawn is new born up until it gets a couple of months old, it has no odor for predators to locate it by its nose's ability. The spots on the brown coat act as a camouflage so other animals that might feed on them can't see them. So it's perfectly normal for a fawn to lay motionless, even in the presence of a human. It's their natural defense mechanism. They think you can't smell or see them, and usually mom is not too far away.

Folk's good intentions usually mess with nature in a bad way. Every year LDWF receives dozens of calls from concerned citizens who have found what they consider to be "abandoned" baby deer or fawns. With the best of intentions, some concerned citizens bring fawns home and then call the department to retrieve and raise them.

LDWF wants the public to know that it is against the law to pick up baby deer or any other wild animal. If caught transporting deer without a permit, these well meaning individuals will be subject to citations and fines.

Picking up fawns seriously diminishes their chance to live a normal and healthy life. When a baby deer is born it is weak, awkward, and unable to move well enough to feed and escape predators. However, the newborn fawn has a coat of light brown hair liberally covered with white spots that provides excellent camouflage against predators. They don't even have a scent, so would be scoundrels can't find them.

The mother doe will remain in the area to feed and nurture the fawn. When the young deer gets older and stronger it will be able to forage for food with its mother. Until then, its best defense is to lay motionless in a thicket or grassy field.

Fawns turned over to LDWF must be hand reared by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at considerable cost of time and expense. Initial mortality is high since fawns raised on a bottle in a pen situation do not have the opportunity to learn important survival skills. The deer that do survive in pen-raised environments must be confined to a pen for the remainder of their lives. 

When encountering baby deer in the wild, simply leave them untouched and quietly depart from the area. This action will provide the young deer its best chance to survive in the wild and prevent a possible citation for a well intended outdoorsman. 

Moving on, let's do a "State of the Pier" address. It's past time for a Diversion Canal report. It's spring in the river, as well. I fish nearly every day, and this phenomenon always amazes me. It's just like a light switch. One day the water is cold and the next the temperature is warm. This happened about two weeks ago.

Winter is usually pretty good as far as the catfishing goes, fishing on the pier. This one has been way different. It was very inconsistent, and the harvest was really spotty. It would go for days without catching a catfish. I would catch a few, then the cycle would repeat itself.

The really frustrating thing was that there was so much bait available, but it seemed like there were no fish to eat any of it. Usually in the colder months getting bait was a problem. Store-bought night crawlers were the remedy, but this year I didn't have that issue to worry about. The issue was where's the fish?

They made their appearance this weekend. It all started on Friday when the catfish bite picked up a little. Saturday the action picked up more, adding some nice bream and chinquapin to the live box I keep in the water.

Even my neighbors got in on the action as he had some friends over. They were using crawfish and night crawlers to catch their nice mess of catfish and bream. On Sunday the scenario repeated itself with another neighbor joining in on the action.

This week marked the start of boating season as the boat riding was out in full swing. Things are good the river. Remember to keep the slack out, and set the hook hard. Be safe in the outdoors, and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman’s League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Road. Starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

False River Cookie Jar Bass Tourney: Every Friday night 7 p.m.-midnight, La. Express launch, Jarreau. Fee $40/boat (two-angler boats, pay at store before launching). Weekly event through spring, summer. Call Storm Randall 225-937-0489.

Turkey Seasons Open Statewide: April 7 in Areas A, B & C. Area C closed Apr 22, Area B closes Apr 29, and Area A closes May 6. Special Youth Season Mar 30, 31.

Anything Outdoors Helping Kids Frog Rodeo: Postponed until June 15 due to high water. Save the date!

Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures Bass Classic: April 6--Trailer Bass Tournament with weigh-in at St. James Boat Club. Find all info on their Facebook Page: Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures, LLC.

Prairieville Broncos Bass Tournament: April 6 Doiron’s Landing Stephensville. Team tournament $160 entry fee. Captain's meeting April 4 (location TBA). Call Scott Watson 225-610-0699, Karen Watson 225-270-1565, or email

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