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).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Early August means that kids and parents are frenetically preparing for the opening of the new school year, and we hunters are looking for every opportunity to remind us that the hunting seasons are not far away.

With attention focused on the future seasons and what will lead to successful outings, hunters could possibly be playing catch-up if their preparations didn’t start earlier this year, according to Chris Cook, Deer Project Study Leader with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Trophy fish are definitely determined by the eyes of the beholders. However, when those eyes belong to a dedicated angler, it takes a big fish to be deemed a trophy.

In freshwater, the holy grail in bass fishing is a 10-pound largemouth, although those have become more common in recent years.

In saltwater, the king mackerel fishermen strive for that elusive 60-pounder, while inshore anglers hope to reel in an 8-pound speckled trout.

For the lesser known species of tripletail, the quest for glory is reached when the scale registers 30 pounds.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Plenty of red snapper, the Alabama Gulf Coast’s premier reef fish, crossed the scales at the 84th annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR) at Dauphin Island last weekend, but one reef species was conspicuously absent for the second year in a row.

The gray triggerfish season is closed for all of 2017 because NOAA Fisheries determined that the recreational sector exceeded its quota for the past several years. Triggerfish recreational landings in the Gulf were estimated to be 422,436 pounds in 2016. The annual catch limit was 201,223 pounds.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Jim Godwin crouched next to a patch of white sand in the Conecuh National Forest last week and gently released a dark, 6-foot-long serpent. The threatened eastern indigo snake didn’t hesitate to slither quickly into the intended target, a gopher tortoise burrow.

The head of the eastern indigo snake, with its tongue testing the muggy July air, made a brief appearance at the burrow’s entrance, but there was too much hubbub going on in the longleaf pine forest for it to pose for photos. No encore. Elvis has left the building.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

With a new pacemaker in place, Dr. Bob Shipp is preparing to oversee the thousands upon thousands of fish from the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama’s coastal waters that will be tossed onto the counter at the weigh station during the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR), scheduled July 21-23 at Dauphin Island.

Shipp, Professor Emeritus of the University of South Alabama’s Marine Sciences Department, will serve as head judge at the weigh station during the 84th rodeo, which happens to be his 35th behind the rodeo scales. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

It seems like eons ago when Alabama and the rest of the states on the Gulf of Mexico were collectively staring at a potential apocalypse that might eternally alter the way of life along the Gulf Coast.

The wellhead at the Macondo Prospect was uncontrollably spewing barrel after barrel of crude oil into the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig was destroyed, and our economy and culture were hanging by the thinnest of threads in the summer of 2010.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Bass anglers who fished Lake Guntersville in the first half of the current decade enjoyed possibly the best bass fishing in the nation with phenomenal stringers anchored by 8- to 10- to 12-pound whoppers.

When those 30-pound-plus stringers of five bass started to wane the past couple of years, lake property owners and bass anglers who regularly fish the lake, affectionately known as the “Big G,” began to fret and then became downright afraid there was something significantly askew in the lake.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Fishing buddy Todd Kercher posted a video last weekend that many feel justifies the significant extension of the red snapper season for private recreational anglers in federal waters.

Todd took his family out in the Gulf of Mexico to catch a limit of snapper, two per person with a 16-inch minimum. What he captured on video was what many snapper anglers have been screaming for the past few years.

As Todd tells one family member that they have a limit in the boat, they start throwing the leftover bait into the water.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

 

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

If you didn’t get your Conservation ID during the 2016-2017 hunting seasons, the number is required for those who wish to apply for an alligator tag in this summer’s Alligator Limited Quota Hunt.

Registration is underway through 8 a.m. (CDT) July 11 to be eligible for the computer-generated, random drawing.

The application process started on June 2, but technical difficulties had to be resolved before the process could resume.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

On numerous trips outdoors, I’ve often wondered about the extent of the flora and fauna in the surrounding areas, but I don’t have the background to identify all the different species.

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