Thursday, March 19, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

A rarity and a rookie shared the spotlight this week at the Alabama Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt, which was headquartered in Montgomery.

The rookie was Ken Attaway of Academy Sports + Outdoors, who had never bagged a turkey. It was one particular feature of the turkey that guide Mike Brunson called to within 20 yards of Attaway that had all the turkey hunters, guides and landowners shaking their heads in awe.

After Attaway successfully capped the hunt with a perfect shot, the measuring tape came out and to their amazement, the turkey’s beard measured a whopping 12 9/16 inches.

Friday, March 6, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Unlike the previous two years, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division recommended few changes for the 2015-2016 hunting seasons and bag limits to the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board last weekend in Montgomery.

Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. also used the Advisory Board meeting to compliment the work of the Marine Resources Division and Director Chris Blankenship in regards to the Red Snapper Reporting System, which showed a considerable discrepancy in the red snapper catch estimated by NOAA Fisheries. Alabama’s reporting system estimated 455,000 pounds of snapper were taken last year, while NOAA Fisheries’ estimate was 1.2 million pounds.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Montgomery is a special place for Evergreen’s Eddie Salter, known in the hunting community as the “Turkey Man.” That made it easy for Salter and David Harrell to pick a place for the inaugural Turkey Man Expo, which was held last weekend at the Montgomery Convention Center.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Hank Williams Jr. is not the only one with a family tradition in Alabama. Count Chuck Sykes and his dad, Willie, among those with a lengthy family history in certain activities, but this one involves the great outdoors.

Chuck was only 6 years old when he started heading to a certain deer stand on a 4-acre food plot with his father. He observed for a few years as Willie harvested

Thursday, February 12, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Unlike most victims, Chuck Sykes knows exactly when a deer tick bit him that led to a six-month journey through pain, suffering and frustration.

“I was bitten on July 30,” said Sykes, Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “I knew I’d been bitten. I was looking at some potential rabbit research projects with the dean of Wildlife and Forestry at Auburn University. On the way home, I felt a tick bite me behind my knee. I pulled over to the side of the road and got him off.”

As a lifelong outdoorsman, Sykes said the tick bite didn’t raise any unusual concerns because of previous encounters with the blacklegged tick (aka deer tick).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Thankfully, a new red snapper stock assessment has confirmed what Alabama anglers and fisheries managers have said for a long time: There are a lot more red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico than previous assessments indicated.

Whether that changes the parameters of the 2015 red snapper recreational season has yet to be determined.

At the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting held last week at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala., the new red snapper stock assessment was discussed, as well as a number of other items that could impact anglers off the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Hunting in Alabama will move into mostly uncharted territory soon when much of south Alabama enjoys its inaugural February deer season.

Last year, a portion of southwest Alabama swapped 10 days of deer hunting in December to be able to hunt the first 10 days of February. It was a popular move.

After analyzing additional data from the deer reproductive studies conducted throughout south Alabama, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division recommended that most of the property south of Montgomery, except for several locations along the Chattahoochee River, be included in the south zone with the February deer season.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

A little more than three years ago, Carrie Mason was your normal 16-year-old, looking forward to having a driver’s license and enjoying the outdoors with her parents, Art and Dianne Mason.

Everything changed when Carrie unknowingly encountered a small, insect-like creature common to the outdoors – the deer tick. She became ill, and doctors couldn’t make a firm diagnosis. She kept getting worse and worse.

“About two months after my 16th birthday, I started getting sick,” said Carrie, who was among the 15 hunters at the Buckmasters Life Hunt recently at Sedgefield

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Published 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The recent cold spell was just what the ornithologist ordered for those who love to watch eagles soar over north Alabama.

As Lake Guntersville State Park continues its Eagle Awareness program, this push of cold air has bird watchers and park officials excited.

“This year is our 30th anniversary of Eagle Awareness,” said Amanda Glover, park events coordinator at Guntersville. “As far as the numbers of eagles we’ve seen, the numbers have been great.”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

In the past, the rut in Alabama has been a mysterious phenomenon. The breeding activity of white-tailed deer in one part of the state doesn’t necessarily coincide with the rutting activity in other parts of the state. As research continues to reveal more information about the rut in Alabama, it certainly doesn’t fit into a category that wildlife biologists would consider typical.

Because Alabama had to undergo an extensive restocking program through much of the middle of the 20th century, the breeding activity for Alabama’s deer is all over the figurative and literal map.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

To borrow from an old song from the holidays that I was forced to endure for six years as a snaggle-toothed youngster, “All I want for Christmas are my two red snapper.”

It’s obviously not going to happen in a couple of weeks, but there is hope the situation will look much better in the near future.

Congressman Bradley Byrne, Alabama’s U.S. Representative from the First District, and Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship think a plan to move red snapper management to regional control could become a reality.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Mike Jones’ son, 12-year-old Chase, learned a valuable lesson about deer hunting recently – you can’t shoot ‘em if you’re lying in the bed.

The elder Jones said he decided to climb into a deer stand on his father-in-law Jerry Hill’s land after his son balked at rising early two days in a row. That decision paid off with one of the largest bucks taken in Alabama lately. Buckmasters scored the deer at 188 3/8, although the traditional Boone & Crockett scoring system will deduct for some irregular points, including a split brow tine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

To say Jud Easterwood of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division is pumped about the approaching waterfowl season would be a significant understatement.

A combination of excellent duck numbers and early cold weather in the northern reaches of the Mississippi Flyway has Easterwood, the WFF’s waterfowl project coordinator, very enthusiastic about the season, which opens on Thanksgiving Day and runs continuously through Jan. 25, the last Sunday in January 2015.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Ninety white-tailed deer are grazing and running around in various parts of Alabama with distinctive collars around their necks. Those collars come in two colors, orange and brown, and the difference in colors is extremely important.

DO NOT shoot the orange-collared deer, please. The deer with brown collars have no such restriction, according to Dr. Stephen Ditchkoff at Auburn University, which is conducting studies on the collared deer through its white-tailed deer research program.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Despite its opposition to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Amendment 40, better known as Sector Separation, the Alabama Marine Resources Division decided that discretion is the better part of valor at last week’s Council meeting in Mobile.

Historically, the red snapper fishery in the Gulf has been divided into two segments, commercial and recreational. Amendment 40 will split the recreational sector into charter-for-hire vessels and private recreational anglers

Thursday, October 23, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

As is often the case, Charles Jones of Asheville was behind the wheel of his 18-wheeler when he was passed by a vehicle with a special tag that really got his attention.

It was a Purple Heart tag, and Jones, a former Army Green Beret, said an idea popped into his head and it wouldn’t leave.

When Jones is not on the road, he’s usually at Scott Deuel’s Stick Lake Hunting Preserve on top of Straight Mountain north of Springville, Ala.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

One of the most endearing aspects of living in semi-rural Alabama in the mid-to-late 1990s was a sound emanating from a 20-acre pecan grove adjacent to our home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Thursday, October 2, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

As I’ve said before, I was fortunate to grow up with an outdoors-oriented father who planted the seed that would eventually direct my adult life. One aspect of that exposure to the outdoors was archery, in the forms of both target shooting and bowhunting.

In fact, my late father and some of his friends built a quasi-3-D archery range outside of the small town where we lived. It was quasi because there weren’t any 3-D targets at the time, but the range was set up in the woods with varying terrain and unknown distances, that is until you shot a few rounds. I spent many Saturdays shooting and maintaining the range.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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