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  • Writer's pictureRobert M

Solo Hunting Joyce WMA

At first glance, the Maurepas swamp is beautiful, but she is a formidable opponent past the cypress knees. The Joyce WMA lies in the Maurepas Swamp and is located north of Manchac Pass and stretches from the Tickfaw River to the Tangipahoa River. The swamp is predominately cypress-tupelo but has other trees mixed in. Besides the beautiful flora in this swamp, it is home to a diverse animal population. Numerous bird species, nutria, deer, hogs, alligators, etc., all call the swamp home. The whitetails here are unlike any deer; they are brutal animals who live in a constantly evolving environment. The cajun word flotant describes a floating island with trees growing on it. These flotants change the landscape of the swamp every day. One morning you may be able to get down your favorite canal, but the next, it will be impossible. Walking in the swamp is no easy task, be prepared with waders and life jackets. What may seem like solid ground may turn into holes big enough to swallow you whole. Add up all of these reasons, and it can be a challenging time hunting. On the other hand, the marsh/swamp is hauntingly beautiful. On a cool, foggy morning, its' beauty is unrivaled. One of my favorite activities is to wake up early and kayak into the swamp and listen to the birds wake up the world.

The first time I went into the Joyce by myself, I searched for the elusive swamp buck. This hunt was one of my first times hunting deer on public land. I had been a handful of times before but never saw anything. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of archery season and extremely hot with enough humidity you could mistake it for your local gym's sauna. So I went into a canal off the Tickfaw River and went far into the channel. This canal is what Matt and I like to call Old Reliable because we go there often. We have hunted woodies, nutria and even bumped a deer before. I found a place where there were small levees on either side, big enough for deer or myself to walk along. I saw numerous raccoons, nutria, and even fat squirrels on my walk along the levees. I followed the levees till I found some bedding areas and set up shop. I was sitting under two young pines for a significant amount of time until, to my surprise, I spotted two deer in the distance, but they were too far to shoot with a bow. As I sat there, being eaten alive by mosquitoes big enough to carry a small house cat, I watched the deer slowly graze along the levees. The beauty of whitetail deers is something hard to describe. This animal is in every state in the lower forty-eight; it lives in swamps, forests, and mountains. It is rugged and regal. I sat in awe; I kept hoping and praying that they would slowly inch closer to me. For people who do not hunt, seeing a deer come out is one of the most exciting things for a hunter. A wave of adrenaline washes over you, and for those few minutes, you are brought to a place where time, money, personal issues, and anything alike no longer exist. It is one of the most intimate and ancestral experiences one could have. Watching them graze as the sun rose over the cypress trees with Spanish moss hanging from them was one of the most beautiful sights you can behold. Fortunately for the deer, I could not line up a shot, but the thrill of seeing my first public land deer made the trip worth it.

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