Youth Turkey Hunting Area
By Steven W. Barnett, Wildlife Biologist
Outdoor related activities that may kindle a child’s interest and promote participation in hunting and fishing are a high priority with the Alabama Department of Conservation’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). One of the newest endeavors initiated by the WFF is a partnership with the University of South Alabama Foundation in 2004 to establish the state’s first Youth Turkey Hunting Area.
The USA Foundation Hunting Area, located on a 5,000-acre tract in north Mobile County, hosted the inaugural youth turkey hunts during the 2004 spring turkey season. A total of 14 youths participated in the hunts. Based on their comments, the kids enjoyed this new opportunity. Several adult-youth pairs experienced action, chasing gobbling turkeys.
The Youth Turkey Hunting Area is managed similar to the youth hunts on the Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Each youth must be under 16 years of age and be accompanied by an adult supervisor at least 25 years old and possessing a valid hunting and WMA license. Only one firearm is allowed per adult-youth pair and only the youth is permitted to use the firearm for hunting. Each adult-youth pair must check in and out at the check station as a single unit. Hunting hours are from daylight until 1 p.m. on designated dates during the spring turkey season.
A register is maintained at the self-service check station where each adult-youth pair must record permit numbers, time in and out, harvest data, and complete a short questionnaire regarding the overall hunting experience. This information assists biologist with making improvements to enhance a child’s hunting experience and helps our technical staff in managing the habitat for turkeys.
To promote a quality hunting experience at the USA Foundation Hunting Area, the number of permits is limited for each hunt date. Adult-youth pairs must register before hunting by contacting the WFF District 5 Office in Spanish Fort at 251-626-5474. Permit packets, received at registration, include regulations, USA Foundation Hunting Area maps, and other pertinent information.
The habitat at the USA Foundation Hunting Area consists primarily of pine plantations of different age classes, interspersed with hardwood creek bottoms. Wildlife openings are managed on the area and plans to expand the wildlife openings are ongoing. Also, some roads and trails are designated as “walk-in use only” to limit disturbance. There are several clearcuts on the property, making a good set of binoculars useful. Hunters need to take advantage of the hilly terrain and the hardwood drainages when attempting a set-up in these new clearcuts to avoid a gobbler’s keen eyesight.
For more information, contact Steven W. Barnett, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, P.O. Box 247, Daphne, AL 36526; phone 251-626-5474.