Alabama is blessed with a rich diversity of wildlife species for viewing and hunting. Long seasons and liberal bag limits allow hunters plenty of opportunity to participate in our hunting heritage. In fact, Alabama hunters can hunt at least one species during every month of the year.
White-tail deer are the number one game animal hunted in Alabama. Approximately 180,000 deer hunters account for more than 4 million man-days of hunting activity annually and have a significant impact on the local economy of rural Alabama. The harvest varies from year to year but hunters typically harvest in excess of 300,000 deer annually. Two publications authored by Bill Gray and Chris Cook, wildlife biologists with the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, regarding deer management in Alabama are available online.
Collecting harvest information including sex, age, weight, lactation rates, and other attributes should be a facet of an active deer management plan. Chris Cook, Deer Study Project Leader for the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, compiled instructions and developed data sheets for hunting clubs to collect the necessary information to take an active role in managing their white-tail deer resources.
The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries recently formalized a response plan to implement if Chronic Wasting Disease is discovered in Alabama or within 50 miles of our border. Other information regarding CWD is available by visiting the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website.
The Eastern wild turkey is the second most popular game animal in Alabama and accounts for about 500,000 man-days of hunting annually. Many of Alabama's turkey hunters are quite avid and enjoy the 4-6 week long spring turkey season. Steve Barnett, District V Supervising Wildlife Biologist, and his wife Victoria co-authored a new book regarding the wild turkey in Alabama. The book is an excellent resource for all turkey hunting enthusiasts and managers.
Alabama quail hunting has changed significantly over the past decades. Many Alabamians can remember when every local pea patch held a covey of quail. Farming practices and habitat changes have negatively impacted quail populations across the southeast. Much of Alabama's quail hunting now takes place on commercial quail hunting preserves. Stan Stewart, retired Wildlife Biologist with the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, authored a publication entitled "Ecology and Management of the Bobwhite Quail in Alabama." The book is an excellent resource management guide for landowners, quail managers, and quail enthusiasts.
Mourning dove hunting typically kicks off the fall hunting season as many hunters look forward to a day on a dove field with family and friends. Unlike many other hunting activities, dove hunting is usually a highly social event with many hunters on the same field. Alabama is separated into 2 zones (north and south) with most of Alabama being in the north zone. The north and south zone seasons typically begin in early September and October, respectively.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System revised recommendations for plantings related to dove management. Please visit this site for the latest information regarding plantings related to dove management.
Feral hogs sightings in Alabama were once primarily confined to the river swamps of southwest Alabama. For many reasons, feral hog populations have increased across Alabama during the past 15-20 years and now occur in all 67 counties. Many counties only have small populations of this highly destructive mammal. However, many areas of the state now have high populations of feral hogs that cause severe damage to agricultural crops, habitat, and other natural resources.
Approximately 21,000 individuals hunt waterfowl annually in Alabama. The Tennessee River drainage and the Mobile Tensaw Delta provide a large portion of the waterfowl hunting opportunities for most migratory species. Wood ducks are the primary species hunted throughout the remainder of the state.
Alabama's alligator population has grown during the past 50 years to the extent they now cause hundreds of complaints annually from citizens concerned about public safety. An alligator hunting season was instituted in a defined portion of the Mobile Delta in 2006 to limit population growth and reduce issues related to public safety. The hunts have since been expanded to areas in southeast Alabama and Monroe(north of Hwy 84), Wilcox, and Dallas counties.
Small Game Hunting
Alabama's most popular small game species include dove, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, oppossums, and waterfowl. Small game hunting is often an opportunity for family and friends to gather and socialize and enjoy the camaradarie. Small game hunting is a great way to introduce kids and other beginning hunters to our hunting heritage.
Alabama's black bear populations are primarily limited to SW and NE Alabama. Bears are a game animal in Alabama with no open season. With the growing bear population, it is important to report any sightings you may have to help with management of the species in the state.