If you take a close look at this photo, you'll see that it is NOT a whitetail deer. The picture was taken literally less than two miles from Highway 80 off Bellevue Road in the Haughton area.

What you are looking at is an elk. Though, it's a young elk, it's certainly not native to Haughton, Louisiana.  But apparently he had been wandering the area for a few weeks and this photo is believed to be the last one of him snapped by a game camera a day or so before he met his maker.

I received a text message from my oldest son's father in law, who lives no more than a mile and a half from my home, stating, "You're not going to believe what a kid just killed out of my deer stand."

That's when I got the photo. Of course, I thought it was all a joke, but indeed it was true.

Once the picture was posted to social media, the keyboard ninjas kicked in questioning the validity of harvesting the animal, which had obviously been pen raised or raised in a high-fence area.

That's when I had to jump in with the info we had just received directly from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) wants to alert Louisiana hunters to the possibility of encountering escaped pen-raised deer this season due to damage from Hurricane Laura and other storms this year.

Hunters who possess a Louisiana Big Game Hunting License may take these free-ranging, escaped alternative livestock animals, which include fallow, axis, sika and white-tailed deer, elk, red deer and other exotic hoof stock.

Escaped white-tailed deer may have ear tags, however, distinguishing those animals from native deer may not be possible. In Louisiana, captive exotics are listed as alternative livestock and fall under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF). Alternative livestock owners must recover escaped alternative livestock within 96 hours of escape and notification. Many of the exotics associated with escapes during Hurricane Laura will likely be free ranging during the 2020 fall hunting season.

Hunters and other members of the public are asked to report sightings of these animals to LDWF. Hunters who harvest any of these animals are encouraged to contact LDWF to have the animals tested for chronic wasting disease.

If you see or harvest a suspected pen-raised deer, contact LDWF wildlife field offices at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/contact-us or after-hours at 1-800-442-2511.

With Hurricane Ida and Tropical Storm Nicholas causing so much flooding and devastation to the southern part of Louisiana, the same situations could occur this year.

So, should you hunt somewhere near the coast where pen-raised animals might have escaped, or maybe you're just sitting in a stand in North Bossier Parish and all of a sudden there's an elk in front of you; Yes, it's legal to take him! (as long as you have your big game license)

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