At its March 26 meeting, Alabama’s Conservation Advisory Board made numerous changes to hunting and fishing regulations in the state. In a move sure to be popular with hunters, gun deer season will continuously run from Nov. 19, 2016, through Feb. 10, 2017, statewide – provided that the Game Check harvest reporting system makes it through the legislative review process.

Following is a summary of recommended changes by the board for the 2016-2017 hunting and fishing seasons.

  • Recommended mandatory reporting of deer and turkey harvests via the Game Check system. The implementation of Game Check is dependent upon legislative approval. Game Check has been voluntary for the past three years.
  • Recommended extending deer season to end Feb. 10 statewide, with no closed period in December. Archery season in the South Zone would be bucks only from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24. This season is dependent upon Game Check becoming mandatory (see map).
  • Reduced doe season in portions or all of select north Alabama counties (see map).
  • Revised the dog deer hunting permit system to require a 500-acre minimum acreage for any new dog deer hunting permits issued after March 26, 2016, and placed Baldwin and Marengo counties under the revised system.
  • Established a new regulation to prohibit dog deer hunters, after being warned, from allowing their dogs to encroach onto another property without the landowner’s permission. This provides conservation officers with an avenue to address individual offenders, rather than an entire club.
  • Reduced the number of dog deer hunting days on the Talladega National Forest in Calhoun, Clay and Talladega counties and end dog deer hunting by noon on the National Forest.
  • Strengthened existing regulations aimed at preventing the unintentional import of disease pathogens such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on hunter-harvested deer (elk, moose, caribou, white-tail) carcasses taken in other states. The new addition restricts the importation of harvested animals, with certain exceptions relating to deboned meat, thoroughly cleaned parts and finished taxidermy, from states where CWD occurs. The carcasses could potentially carry the same pathogens as live animals.
  • Modified the waterfowl hunting zones in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to establish a refuge and an area off-limits to gas-powered motors during waterfowl season, and adjusted shooting days and times for the Mobile-Tensaw Delta Waterfowl Management Area.
  • Expanded the turkey season boundaries in Lawrence County to include the portion of the county north of Highway 24.
  • Extended squirrel and rabbit seasons to run Sept. 15, 2016, through March 5, 2017.
  • Established open season of raccoon and opossum.
  • Eliminated Special Early Canada Goose and Snow/Blue Goose Season because the new federal framework now includes a Sept. 1-30 season for both species.
  • Adjusted the North Zone dove season dates to address late season migration. The North Zone dates would be Sept. 10 through Oct. 30, 2016, and Dec. 8, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017. South Zone dates would be Sept. 17-25, 2016, Oct. 8-23, 2016, and Nov. 12, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017.
  • Increased the sauger length limit to 15 inches.
  • Established a 15-inch largemouth bass length limit to Pickwick Reservoir.

Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. emphasized that the Conservation Advisory Board extended the deer season in north Alabama contingent upon Game Check becoming mandatory. “If Game Check does not successfully make it through the legislative review process, the extended season will not go into effect,” he said.