Outdoorsmen with houseboats who want to eliminate the launch and boat ride daily from access points far from the Wax Lake Outlet Delta this hunting season can apply for houseboat mooring sites on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area in St. Mary Parish.
The special teal hunting season and regular duck hunting season still are weeks away but there’s time to put your name in the hat, er, computer, to get a houseboat mooring site, according to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. While the region has lost some of its appeal from the roaring 1980s and 1990s, when ducks often covered the WMA, it’s better to get the application approved now than, say, if suddenly the teal hunting season is fabulous.
Vaughan McDonald, LDWF biologist manager who oversees the Lafayette Coastal Region, said as much early this past week when touting the benefits of acquiring a permit early for one of approximately 45 houseboat mooring sites at designated pilings on the Main Delta (Log Island Pass) and on the Wax Lake Delta (Campground Pass).
“If we get big numbers of ducks down there, I’m sure there will be people calling to see if there’s space available,” McDonald said Monday morning from his Lafayette office.
The state agency is accepting lottery applications through Aug. 13 for the 2020-21 hunting season. Permits issued to selected applicants will be valid from Sept. 1 through March 16, 2021, when all vessels are to be removed. Year-round mooring isn’t permitted on Atchafalaya Delta WMA.
Of course, deer hunters can benefit as well as waterfowl hunters.
Successful applicants will be allowed to moor adjacent to pilings only. All permits will be issued using a computerized lottery system.
The fee for a two-piling permit is $300 while the fee for a three- to five-piling permit is $500. Only checks or money orders, made payable to LDWF-Atchafalaya Delta WMA Houseboat Mooring, will be accepted and must be submitted with the application. If an applicant isn’t selected via the lottery drawing, the check or money order will be returned.
Atchafalaya Delta WMA houseboat mooring permit lottery applications can be printed from LDWF’s webside at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/atchafalaya-delta, or obtained via email by contacting Lance Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the state agency first started the mooring permits program, the sites were filled to the max, McDonald said, remembering the days he duck hunted the area while he was studying at Southeastern Louisiana Univerity. Duck hunters flocked to the fertile delta just like the ducks did then.
“I can remember hunting there when I was in college. You could almost walk boat to boat parked in the marsh and the campground was packed,” he said.
“Interest has gone down the past few years. That’s consistent with the number of ducks visiting down there. It hasn’t been too great the last few seasons and it (houseboat mooring sites) hasn’t been filled the last two years.”
There are obvious advantages to having a houseboat parked inside the WMA, within a short boat ride of some of the heaviest duck hunting action. Mainly, boaters can avoid a long trip in the dark along the Calumet Cut that intersects with the Intracoastal Waterway.
Plus, McDonald said, “Some people just don’t like to sleep in tents.
“It afford the hunters who have them (houseboats) the convenience of having a boat there. It’s a getaway-to-the-camp weekend.”
The free primitive campground is utilized to the max, he said.
“You can go to the Wax on weekends and it’ll be full of tents, especially on opening weekend,” he said.