June 14, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Many people along the Gulf Coast are not likely familiar with the RESTORE Act, a part of the transportation bill that is currently being debated in Congress. Yet, there is a group of people who consider RESTORE legislation the best vehicle to overcome the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 by directing the majority of the penalties assessed to BP and other affected parties to the Gulf area.
 
A recent conference call among conservation and outdoors groups illustrated the importance of the RESTORE Act to the outdoors community along the Gulf Coast.
January 26, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Charles Herron wasn’t looking for any special recognition a few years ago when he started sharing his love for the outdoors with young hunters in central Alabama.

Herron, who started out with a pulpwood truck and chainsaw 35 years ago, has done particularly well in the timber business in Alabama and through the years has assembled a spread teeming with deer and turkey in Elmore County. Every other weekend during gun deer season, Herron turns that property into a youth-hunting paradise.

 By DAVID RAINER

During my ramblings outdoors as a kid and even now, when I was lucky enough to find an arrowhead I marveled at the craftsmanship involved and always wondered how Native Americans were able to achieve such meticulous detail with only primitive tools.

After a trip to Moundville Archaeological Park and the Flintknappers Class and Gathering, I don’t have to wonder any longer.

The flintknappers there demonstrated how one can take the right kind of rock and a few primitive tools and fashion an arrowhead or knife blade as sharp as or sharper than one made from the finest steel. The keys, according to the veteran flintknappers, are finding the right material, getting a little instruction and then practice, practice, practice.

By DAVID RAINER

It was already past time to head to the house and get ready for another day of framing houses on his construction job, but Eric Easley and fishing buddy Michael Myles had a big adventure remaining in the upper end of Mobile Bay during the wee hours of Aug. 14.

The pair had been catching redfish around McDuffie Island at the mouth of the Mobile River and was packing up their gear to get ready for an interesting ride back to the boat ramp in a 14-foot jon boat with a 15-horse outboard.

June 27, 2013

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Understanding what constitutes legal dove hunting should be easier this fall after the Alabama Cooperative Extension System published new planting guidelines for Alabama.

In previous years, the state had been divided into three zones with three sets of acceptable planting dates for top-sown wheat. The new recommendations eliminate the zones and set the acceptable dates for top-sowing wheat as August 1 through November 30.

November 23, 2011

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

As soon as the leashes were unhooked, the hounds disappeared in a flash into the darkness. It didn’t take long to determine which way they went.

“That’s Daisy, I’m calling a ‘strike,’” said Arnold “Nubbin” Moore, president of the Black Creek Coonhunters Club who quickly recognized the high-pitched bark of his female black and tan hound. Moore had the “Nubbin” moniker bestowed on him by his grandfather, who looked at the five-pound newborn and named him after what we country folks call an underdeveloped ear of corn.

October 31, 2013

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When my daughter asked where I’d been as I walked in the door late the other night, I responded, “Lionfish workshop.”

“That’s the fish that’s poisonous, right?” she asked.

“Nope, the lionfish is venomous, not poisonous,” I said.

Judging from the puzzled look on her face, I needed to explain that lionfish have venomous spines but the fish’s flesh is perfectly edible, in fact, delicious and not poisonous.

March 29, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Although my fishing buddies are no longer with us, each time I pass by or fish Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores I remember the day Mike Young and Mike Miceli took me on my first fishing trip in the lagoon back in mid 90s.

Young and Miceli were veterans of fishing the lagoon, which is known somewhat as a “feast or famine” fishing spot. Little Lagoon is a half-mile-wide body of brackish water in Gulf Shores separated by about a half-mile beach from the Gulf of Mexico. Little Lagoon Pass is a small outlet to the Gulf, the lagoon’s lifeline to water flow and water quality.

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Looking much like a synchronized swimming routine, anglers at the end of Gulf State Park Pier gracefully yielded their positions along the rail to the fisherman with the bowed rod in hand.
 
Laughingly called the “Pier Shuffle,” the regulars at the 1,540-foot pier in Gulf Shores know the angler must go where the fish on the end of the line takes him, which means cooperation takes priority if the fish is to be landed.
 
David Thornton got hooked on pier fishing some 40 years ago, and his enthusiasm was only boosted when the new pier was completed in 2009.
 
“I’m from Mobile and this type of action just

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Although the outdoors had been a great part of his life, at age 47, Henri Billiot had never even heard a wild turkey gobble, much less hunted one. In fact, it took a disaster of epic proportions to provide the impetus for the Louisiana native to join in the grand tradition of the spring turkey season in Alabama – a storm called Katrina that left him with practically nothing.

Billiot lived in Saint Bernard Parish just outside New Orleans when Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. Saint Bernard Parish was among the hardest hit areas and basically remains uninhabited.

January 30, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

By DAVID RAINER

During the hectic holiday season last year, one item of important business conducted by the Forever Wild program got somewhat overlooked.

January 16, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

With the coldest temperatures in decades forecast for the three-day hunt, participants in the Buckmasters Life Classic Hunt never wavered. They had all faced much tougher situations than the 9-degree temperatures.

The 11 hunters that came to Sedgefields Plantation in west central Alabama were dealing with obstacles that ranged from traumatic brain injury to lymphoma to IED (improvised explosive device) injuries, so a little cold weather wasn’t going to hamper this opportunity to hunt white-tailed deer on some of the best hunting land in the Southeast.

May 31, 2012
 
 By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Graduate student Kevin Gregalis deftly manipulated the switches on what many would mistake for a game controller to a Nintendo or Xbox. But this was no game. Gregalis was maneuvering a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) with a camera tethered to the equipment aboard the Lady Ann charter boat.
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  
While the absence of the patriarch of the Hinton family around the campfire at Sedgefields Plantation was truly felt, the 19th annual Buckmasters Life Classic Hunt was a celebration of the legacy of Jimmy Hinton Sr.
 
“This past December, we lost the chairman of the board at Sedgefields Plantation,” said Jackie Bushman, Buckmasters’ founder and CEO. “Mr. Jimmy passed away at 88 years old. He went quail hunting before he passed away. Mr. Jimmy left this world as a great husband, a great father, a great grandfather, and one of the great outdoorsmen we’ve had in Alabama.

By DAVID RAINER

Trout fishing on the Sipsey Fork below Lewis Smith Dam continued to take center stage at the latest Alabama Conservation Advisory Board meeting in Gadsden, although the board did not take any action on the conflict between user groups. The board did vote to approve the use of telescopic sights on crossbows.

September 13, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Lamar Harrison and his son-in-law, Mike Eubanks, had a successful hunt on the opening day of the mourning dove season in Alabama’s North Zone last weekend, and they didn’t fire a shot.

For the past 10 years or so, the pair has played host to a growing number of guests on their farm near Orrville, Ala., and the fertile soil of the Alabama Black Belt that nurtures just about any sort of row crops. The soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and millet provide excellent forage for all sorts of wildlife, including a considerable flock of doves for the opening hunt during many of the previous years.

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
After a significant public outcry, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mobile District has agreed to take a second look at a controversial lock policy that would preclude recreational boaters on rivers like the Alabama.

Because of budget restrictions, the Corps had announced that recreational boats would no longer be allowed to use the lock facilities on 27 waterways in the U.S., including the Alabama and Chattahoochee rivers.

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