Thursday, November 3, 2011
November 3, 2011
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Alabama’s bowhunting community recently added another convert to its fold. Neal Foster of Mobile, a lifelong deer hunter who heretofore had bagged his game solely with a rifle, received an adrenalin-flushed awakening about hunting with bow and arrows.

However, it was his prowess with the rifle that eventually led to his introduction to the archery world. Foster, an avid king mackerel fisherman who has had a great deal of success on the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) tournament circuit, was entered in a big buck contest with a bunch of his SKA buddies.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The generosity of Alabama’s outdoors community continues to amaze me. When it comes to sharing our great outdoors with our military – veterans, active duty and wounded warriors – Alabama shines.

A perfect example of the community working together to treat our veterans and active military to Alabama’s abundant outdoors treasures occurred in Macon County when the A HERO Foundation put together a bass fishing weekend for the military, including Marines of all ages and from all parts of the country.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

President Ronald Reagan probably said it best when he uttered these words in 1985: “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”

That quote is emblazoned on a display with the Marines’ insignia of Eagle, Globe and Anchor in the museum on Parris Island, S.C., the Marine Corps Recruit Depot synonymous with turning raw recruits into Marines.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

By DAVID RAINER

That big buck that’s been leaving those huge, split-toe tracks near your favorite stand finally shows up during shooting hours. You try to concentrate on the crosshairs and squeeze the trigger. As the echo of the muzzle blast ripples through the woods, the buck snaps his head up and looks around for the thunder, then prances into the thicket with his white tail held high in alert.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

By DAVID RAINER

July 8, 2010

With the rebirth of viable stands of the majestic longleaf pine in south Alabama, one of the denizens of the longleaf ecosystem is being given another chance to mount a comeback.

The Eastern indigo snake, a protected and threatened species throughout its range, disappeared in Alabama in step with the loss of longleaf stands. Attempts by Dan Speake of the Alabama Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at Auburn University, to repopulate the non-venomous snakes met with some early success. However, over time, a viable population was not established, probably due to habitat degradation around the release sites.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

By DAVID RAINER

Destroyer of Light and Swagg slipped into the murky waters of the Mobile-Tensaw, familiar habitat to the ancestors of this mottled crew that eventually totaled 11.

With the help of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, students from the Fairhope High School aqua science class released 10 alligator gar, including the aforementioned pair, they had reared from hatchlings back into the habitat from whence the species came.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10-30-2008

By DAVID RAINER 

More than 200 people came from near and far for the journey way back into the Freedom Hills of northwest Alabama. And the dress was just as diverse – from tuxedos to camouflage and hip boots, from colorful casual clothes to the full black attire – replete with Sunday-go-to-meeting black hats – of a group of “mourners.” 

The funeral was obviously worthy of a dignitary, although this wasn’t your typical bigwig. This observance was in the name of White Hills The Merchant, a grand champion coon dog known as “Merch.”

Merch died in the prime of his coon-hunting life of a “twisted stomach,” according to his owner, Raynor Frost of Coudersport, Penn.

By DAVID RAINER 

Chris Jaworowski has witnessed first-hand how a feral hog situation can get out of hand in a hurry.

Jaworowski, Area Wildlife Biologist for the Lowndes Wildlife Management Area (WMA), saw two feral hogs when he started his career at Lowndes in 1997. The next year, he saw between 50 and 60 hogs.

“By the third year, they had pretty much taken over a 5,000-acre tract,” Jaworowski said of the 11,124-acre WMA in central Alabama. “Supposedly, our hogs came from an intentional release by a neighboring landowner in the early 1990s. Those 10 hogs have multiplied exponentially.”

By DAVID RAINER

They came from all over the country, dressed in wet suits, chest waders, hip boots and knee boots and bailed off into Mobile Bay. They emerged covered in enough mud to make a rambunctious 5-year-old boy envious.

But this mud fest was not about play. It was serious business. This was the opening step in a five-year journey to restore habitat in coastal Alabama.

By DAVID RAINER

Should anyone question Alabama’s claim to the title of biodiversity champion east of the Mississippi River, a road trip from the sparkling white sands of the Alabama Gulf Coast to the breathtaking vistas of Little River Canyon should settle that debate.

Having lived near the Gulf Coast for more than 15 years, I was well aware of the abundant wildlife and natural resources of the coastal plains region. However, I really hadn’t taken the time to explore the opposite end of the ecological spectrum and spend some time in northeast Alabama, where the landscape is completely different.

March 28, 2013

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
 
Brrrrrrr! What a difference a year makes for the opening weeks of wild turkey season. Last year, spring sprung extremely early with dogwoods blooming around March 1. This year, I’m still throwing logs on the fire.

Just days ago, I had on my warmest thermal undergarments and an insulated jacket for a Sumter County turkey hunt with Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director Chuck Sykes and two-time World Champion turkey caller Larry Norton.

This, apparently, is the winter that won’t end as weather forecasts predict freezing temperatures this week for most of Alabama.

March 8, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
No month in Greg Vinson’s lifetime will likely have the profound impact of this leap year’s February.

Not only did Vinson’s wife, Stephanie, give birth to their first child, a boy named Gaige, the 34-year-old from Wetumpka also had the best tournament of his short professional career on bass fishing’s ultimate stage – the Bassmaster Classic.

Gaige, who weighed in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 19 inches, on Feb. 6 preceded his dad’s weigh-ins the last weekend of the month at the Classic venue of Shreveport, La., and the Red River fishery.

By DAVID RAINER

When the caller ID indicated my pal Jay Gunn was on the phone, I thought it would be one of those “catching-up” calls. However, I would soon be pleasantly surprised by what was on Gunn’s mind.

“You got anything going tonight?” he asked.

“Not really,” I replied.

“Meet me at my house at 7:30 (p.m.), conditions are perfect to do some floundering,” he said. Of course, I jumped at the chance and asked what I needed to bring, knowing full well that Gunn was completely outfitted for the excursion.

June 13, 2013

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

High winds and waves during the two opening weekends of red snapper season is the perfect example of why Capt. Randy Boggs has promoted a novel concept for the head boats that fish the Gulf of Mexico.

Boggs, who owns two head boats docked at SanRoc Cay Marina in Orange Beach, has pushed has pushed for a pilot program that would allow up to 20 head boats to choose their days at sea. Head boats are walk-on charters that charge a daily fee per head and typically carry more anglers than charter boats, which are most often booked by groups.

June 12, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Sometimes surprises come in big packages, some 10 feet and longer.

While visiting old friends last weekend at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic (MGCBC) in Biloxi, a steady stream of boats was backing down to the weigh dock with huge fish.

With 53 boats from all over the Gulf Coast participating, the top boats would usually be spread out among the five Gulf states, but this MGCBC was an exception. Basically, boats from Alabama ruled.

The top two blue marlin were landed by Alabama boats, which also had the winning yellowfin tuna, the third-place wahoo and swept the top three spots in the dolphin category.

October 10, 2013

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When he was a kid, Michael Niemeyer found adventure in the outdoors, discovering and interacting with as many animals as he could find in south Alabama. As an adult, he’s turned that passion into a vocation.

Niemeyer and J.J. McCool formed a business, Wildlife Solutions, that deals with the outdoors as a whole. McCool specializes in habitat restoration and enhancement. Niemeyer is the “critter getter,” handling the nuisance animal aspect of the operation.

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Marine Says "Fishing Makes Day Better"

June 6, 2013

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

A little more than a week ago, the nation celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Occasionally, we get the opportunity to celebrate those who are still serving our great country.

Such was the case when Marine Lance Corporal Taylor Klarman headed home to Baldwin County for some R&R after a tour in Afghanistan. Although a big sow bass in Magnolia River refused to fall for any of the lures Taylor tossed her way, he knew he was home.

December 13, 2012

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
 
A week or so ago, a friend sent me a picture of the feeder he has on his property in Baldwin County. He’s sent me photos before, but they had always contained a nice buck or two. This photo was different. The feeder was totally surrounded by feral hogs.

Other landowners, hunters and farmers are experiencing the same anxiety as the feral hog problem continues to spread throughout Alabama and the nation. Feral hogs are now found in 45 states with no abatement in sight.

May 1, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Playing catch-up is a difficult task in almost every endeavor. That’s especially true when the issue at hand is the explosion in the feral hog population.

I heard a story last week from a hog hunter who had trapped and relocated a group of hogs to the Tombigbee River swamp in the 1980s before everyone realized what a destructive force an unchecked wild hog could become.

The complicit owner of the swamp told the hog hunter, “If I knew then what I know now, I’d have killed you and the hogs.”

While that statement might be a bit over the top, landowners with feral hog infestations know the damage these eating machines can wreak.

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