Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Now that Spring Break is in full swing on the Alabama Gulf Coast, loads of beachgoers are traveling between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. And it’s almost certain that most are wondering about all that construction adjacent to the Gulf State Park Pier.

The answer is the resurrection of the Gulf State Park Lodge. The original lodge and convention center was wrecked by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and a new and extensively improved version has a projected completion date of May 2018 for the park’s beachfront construction.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 9, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Dog deer hunters whose dogs trespass on private property will fall under a three-strike rule that was adopted at the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board meeting at Lake Guntersville State Park last weekend.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Chris Blankenship, Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division, is on a mission, and the next month may be crucial to the outcome of his ultimate goal.

Blankenship was in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., this week to continue spreading Alabama’s common-sense approach to the management of the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The drizzle of rain didn’t bother Antoine Cheatham at all after the beagles that were released from the dog box hit the ground running.

Cheatham and his buddies, Prentiss Thomas and John Shanklin, are the diehard rabbit hunters that Stuart Goldsby of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division recruited for the 5th annual Hunter Education Volunteers and Youth Rabbit Hunt, held on property near Lake Guntersville.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The initial 2017 meeting of the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board focused on how well Alabama’s hunters and saltwater anglers complied with reporting regulations, and the assessment definitely showed mixed results.

At the meeting last weekend in Montgomery, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division Director Chuck Sykes and Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) Director Chris Blankenship provided an overview of the two reporting systems they oversee.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

At one time trapping was almost as common in the Alabama outdoors as hunting deer, turkeys and quail. Through the years, as fur prices declined and the animal rights movement grew, trapping became stigmatized. The result was the number of trappers dwindled to almost nothing.

Lately, there has been an uptick in trapping participation but not for the same reasons our fathers and grandfathers did it. The trapping market is now driven more by wildlife management rather than fur production.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Oyster consumption has been occurring along the Alabama Gulf Coast for millennia with the Indian Shell Mound on Dauphin Island as historical evidence.

Fast forward to the 21st century and dining on oysters has increased exponentially. Instead of creating shell mounds, the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling Program is designed to use the discarded shells in more creative and productive ways.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It’s been said that delayed gratification is almost always sweeter than the instant variety. Anyone who saw Dudley Luckie’s face last week during the annual Buckmasters Life Hunt at Sedgefields Plantation would most definitely agree with that adage.

Luckie was scheduled to be at last year’s Life Hunt, which brings disabled and seriously ill individuals to one of the premier properties in Alabama to hunt white-tailed deer. But surgery to deal with Luckie’s daily battle with spina bifida kept him from attending.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When Adam Bearden and Nicki Greene are planning a date, there’s never any of the usual, “Well, what do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Picking the date activity is easy for this couple. They hop in the boat and go bowfishing for buffalo fish, members of the sucker family that are abundant in Alabama’s lakes and river systems, and carp, both common and grass carp.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Chuck Sykes is a happy guy, at least to a point. Sykes, the Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division, has been regularly checking the number of deer reported through the Game Check system, which became mandatory for the 2016-2017 season.

“I figured that only about a third of the deer killed were being reported,” Sykes said.

During a routine road block in which State Troopers conducted checks for public safety and insurance verification, game wardens provided assistance and checked for conservation violations.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The 2016 fall season has been especially fruitful for the Alabama State Parks System. Starting with the overwhelming approval of Amendment 2 on the ballot in November to encouraging visitor numbers, enthusiasm abounds at State Parks.

And to keep that momentum going, State Parks is offering a substantial discount on overnight accommodations at 11 State Parks.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When is the best time for hunters to harvest does in Alabama? According to Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director Chuck Sykes, the answer is simple: When you have the opportunity.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Alabama waterfowl hunters who ventured out on opening weekend will probably have to expand their territory after several recent rain events have changed the amount of water currently available to the ducks.

“Earlier in the year we were in an extreme drought situation throughout Alabama, especially northeast Alabama,” said Seth Maddox, Waterfowl Coordinator with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “We had a pretty good number of waterfowl here for the youth hunt and the start of the season.”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Despite a combined effort to loosen regulations on removal and to increase awareness of the problem, the feral hog population has now reached all 67 counties in Alabama.

Chuck Sykes has been dealing with the scourge of feral hogs for years, now as Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division, and previously as a private wildlife consultant. Sykes said some landowners are making progress. Others, not so much.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

If oyster dressing was on the Thanksgiving menu, the likelihood is the cook had to look for oysters at other than traditional outlets.

Since the oyster season opened on November 1 in Alabama coastal waters, production has been unusually low. Thank goodness, the oyster aquaculture industry in the state has been able to take up some of the shortfall but certainly not all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Most fundraisers and similar activities that require significant public participation may enjoy several years of success and great turnouts. Most, however, tend to fade significantly after a decade or so.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) Wild Game Cook-Off series is the exception to the rule.

Now in their 20th year, the AWF Cook-Offs not only continue to thrive, they also are breaking records for attendance again this year.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The dirt clod I picked up last weekend at the hunting camp in Choctaw County crumbled into a cascade of sand and dust with just slight pressure from my thumb.

Hunters and landowners who have been trying to put seeds in the ground in hopes that this extended dry period will finally end find themselves and their equipment caked in dust after the fields are planted. The few sprinkles that moved through the state this week aren’t going to alleviate the lack of moisture.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Alabama voters will have the opportunity on November 8 to vote on Amendment 2 and determine what happens to the funding of the Alabama State Parks System.

Amendment 2 safeguards the funding designated for State Parks and ensures the money cannot be diverted to any other use in state government.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

This has been a particularly productive year for anglers who target redfish along the Alabama Gulf Coast, and the Alabama Marine Resources Division is doing its best to ensure it stays that way.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

For those who don’t live near the Alabama Gulf Coast, you might not be aware that Gov. Robert Bentley declared a Lionfish Awareness Day recently.

The reason for the public declaration was to coincide with the Lions on the Line event that was held at the Flora-Bama Marina and Flora-Bama Ole River Bar & Grill, which sit astride the Florida-Alabama line, hence Lions on the Line.

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