Alabama hunters now have access to the most recent results of a white-tailed deer fetal study conducted during the spring and summer by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division. Results from the fetal study, hunter survey and Game Check system will assist in the setting of seasons and bag limits.
WFF Director Chuck Sykes said the fetal study data is posted on www.outdooralabama.com/hunting after the information from the intensive collection effort in 49 counties was recently compiled. The study involved taking does from specific sites and performing necropsies to determine fetal development, which provides a date of conception.
This year’s samples were taken from 104 sites, the majority of those from south of Highway 80. WFF personnel attempted to take a sample size of five deer per site with at least two sample sites per county. Additional sites were added along the Chattahoochee River for extra scrutiny. Sykes said that between 450 and 500 deer were sampled for the study.
Previous fetal studies provided Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. and the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board with the data to support the decision to give portions of southwest Alabama a 10-day season in February. Those 10 days were swapped for 10 days of hunting in December.
“These fetal studies, along with the information we get from Game Check, will give us a better understanding of the breeding activities in south Alabama and whether the February season is justified where it is now or whether it should be expanded,” Sykes said. “Of course, a lot of that depends on how many hunters participate in Game Check. It is extremely important that hunters participate in Game Check so we can find out what the details of the harvest are in those areas.”
Sykes said there is no one-size-fits all approach to deer management in Alabama.
“There will never be a clear-cut boundary line of rutting activity,” Sykes said. “However, the Game Check results, combined with the fetal study data, will give our Department more accurate information to set seasons and bag limits. Major road or river systems must be utilized to give hunters, as well as conservation enforcement officers, clear-cut boundaries. So, our Department will continue to gather data, which will enable us to make the most precise decisions possible."
There are three ways to participate in Game Check. The easiest and fastest way is to use a smartphone with the Outdoor Alabama app for both iPhones and Android devices. Hunters can also visit www.outdooralabama.com to participate or call the toll-free telephone number at 800-888-7690.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Patrol, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com.