Thursday, January 11, 2018

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

With Alabama in the peak of deer season, freezers are getting full, which means it’s time to prepare some tasty venison.

As a buddy and I were discussing on a trip home from a hunting excursion, venison got a bad rap back in the day because of several reasons. Most deer hunting in the mid-20th century was done in front of a pack of hounds on a hot deer trail. Plus, it was verboten to shoot a doe back then. Hence, bucks replete with rutting hormones or lactic acid from being chased by the hounds, or both, made some of the meat less than palatable.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Interaction between humans and black bears saw an uptick last year, and that will likely be the trend for the near future, at least in one corner of the state, according to Dr. Todd Steury of Auburn University.

Funded by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division’s State Wildlife Grants Program, Professor Steury, along with graduate students John Draper and Chris Seals, recently completed a multiple-year study of the black bear population in Alabama.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Unwanted guests can sometimes show up during the holiday season, but they almost always go home at some point. Unfortunately, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division got word recently that an unwanted fish species has invaded Alabama waters, and Fisheries Section Chief Nick Nichols is afraid the silver carp wants to make the Tennessee River home.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

If you’re passionate about the outdoors and think those endeavors will be limited to a hobby or favorite pastime, think again. The University of Montevallo in central Alabama has a path to convert your outdoors activities into a career.

The President’s Outdoor Scholars Program allows students to tailor their studies en route to a degree that could translate into a career in the outdoors industry.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Despite a concerted effort by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division’s Hunter Safety Program, Alabama deer hunters are still falling out of treestands in disturbing numbers.

Plus, there has been one firearms fatality where the cardinal rule of unloading your firearm before exiting your deer stand was not followed.

Seven Alabama hunters had suffered treestand accidents as of December 1. Fortunately, there have been no fatalities in the falls, but several serious injuries were reported.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Christmas music is wafting through the air everywhere you go these days, and the Alabama State Parks System will embrace that theme throughout December.

The holiday celebrations begin on Dec. 1 with Santa’s Underground Workshop at Rickwood Caverns State Park near Warrior, just north of Birmingham. Santa will greet visitors in the cave, which will be decorated in Christmas lights. The Underground Workshop will be open through Dec. 23. Admission is $10.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Despite Alabama’s woods teeming with deer and deer hunters, many will take a Thanksgiving break to acknowledge the bountiful blessings of living in our great state.

Those blessings include food – lots of food – on Thursday through the weekend. The traditional turkey will likely be on the table, but many families who love the outdoors will enjoy wild game as well.

For you movie buffs, like Lloyd Bridges’ character in the movie “Airplane,” it looks like I picked the wrong time to try to lose weight.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Fall is a magical time on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The white pelicans execute their synchronized flying patterns as mullet leap for the sky for no apparent reason. In the distance, the spray from their spouts reveals a pod of dolphins on the hunt as they surround a school of baitfish.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Bryan Nettles of Mobile is of a generation that doesn’t have the connection to the outdoors that I and my Baby Boomer hunting buddies have.

We stayed outdoors and followed in our fathers’ (or mentors’) footsteps into the world of hunting, for both recreation and sustenance.

However, like many from the later generations, Nettles just needed a little nudge to join the hunting community, and he found that encouragement in the form of an Alabama Mentored Hunt.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The buck of your dreams steps into the open. You try to remain calm and get ready for the shot. You place the crosshairs of your trusty scope-rifle combination on the deer’s shoulder and squeeze the trigger.

As the boom echoes across the bottom, the buck snaps his head to attention and then darts into the thicket with his white tail pointed skyward, indicating a clean miss.

What just happened? The scope had always been dead on, an inch high at 100 yards.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

There’s an old saying that to find a person’s passion, follow the money. That apparently is true for Alabama’s hunters, who fuel the economies in many parts of the state that need it the most.

To ensure the citizens of the state understand how important hunting is to the state’s well-being, both economically and culturally, Hunting Works for Alabama was formed last year to enlist the aid of the  business community to spread this important message.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The Alabama Conservation Advisory Board will welcome new members and share its appreciation with departing members at its first meeting of 2018 in February.

Jessica Butler of Scottsboro and Greg Barksdale of Hanceville will join the board as first-time members, while Brock Jones of Boligee returns to the board for a new term.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Preliminary numbers from the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System, aka Snapper Check, indicate the fear that Alabama anglers would exceed the 2017 quota were unfounded.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Capt. Richard Rutland can no longer express disappointment about the fishing at a certain Exxon-Mobil petroleum platform just south of Dauphin Island.

“I’ve never caught a fish off this rig, but I stop here every time,” Rutland said as he eased up to the rig to look for cobia lurking in the shadows of the rig structure.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

National Hunting and Fishing Day will be celebrated across the nation Saturday, and Alabama will join the festivities with special access to the abundant natural resources in the state.

At a news conference Tuesday at Lower Wetumpka Shotgun Sports Club outside Montgomery, Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), announced that to honor the vast economic and cultural impact of hunting and fishing on Alabama, DCNR will waive boat launch fees at Alabama State Parks and offer a free day of fishing at Gulf State Park Pier on Saturday.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Contrary to what your buddies at the hunting camp have said or what you’ve read on social media, it is still illegal to bait deer in Alabama.

Similar to previous years, the so-called “corn” bill that was introduced in the Alabama Legislature this year did not become law. Yes, the bill passed the House of Representatives, but that’s as far as it went.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The contract has been signed, sealed and delivered. That means sometime this fall or early winter, Alabama will have a new diving destination about 20 miles south of Orange Beach.

New Venture, a 250-foot surveying vessel, is currently being prepped for deployment and will be towed to a predetermined spot and sunk as soon as the prep work is completed and the weather allows, according to Craig Newton, Alabama Marine Resources Division’s (MRD) Artificial Reefs Coordinator.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Instead of the stillness of the usual August day in Alabama, the wind provided relief from the oppressive heat, and it made James Eagleman happy.

“Got a little wind to contend with today,” I said.

“Yeah, that makes it fun,” Eagleman said at the new Barbour Creek Shooting Academy near Eufaula. “If there’s no wind, it’s too easy.”

The “it” is long-range shooting out to 1,000 yards in the midst of the abundant peanut, soybean and cotton fields in Barbour County.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When an iconic publication like Reader’s Digest recognizes the natural beauty and recreational opportunities in Alabama’s great outdoors, it provides confirmation of what we Alabamians have been saying for a long, long time.

Reader’s Digest named the trails at the Walls of Jericho (www.rd.com/culture/best-hikes-in-america) as one of the top 20 hikes in the nation.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)

With the availability of large tracts of land diminishing at a rapid rate, the Alabama DCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division and the Forever Wild Land Trust have teamed up to step outside the proverbial box to provide additional hunting opportunities in the state.

The new concept in this combined effort is to purchase smaller tracts using Pittman-Robertson and Forever Wild funding and develop those properties as special opportunity areas (SOAs) that are managed differently than the traditional wildlife management areas (WMAs).

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